Andy Spade takes on Hudson’s Bay Company branding
Many Canadians are proud of the Hudson’s Bay Company, passing the striped wool blankets and coats on as heirlooms, but there’s one New York ideas man who thinks our patriotic staples—and their founding company—are in need of an upgrade. Andy Spade, the husband of trendy tote maker Kate, has taken on a new hobby of late: under the banner Partners and Spade, he is re-imagining tried-and-true branding images of big retail institutions. Also on his long list are California’s Swanson winery and Target, which he will infuse with some of the imagination that helped the couple’s own brand succeed.
Back in 2008, J. Crew commissioned Andy to help revamp the company’s menswear collection. His answer was a departure from the company’s usual preppy persona: he turned a small, abandoned Tribeca bar called the Liquor Store into a menswear shop, leaving the original bar and rail fixtures intact, presenting “exhibitions” by local artists in the change rooms and, of course, flooding the store with cool music. It was a huge hit whose success was predictable; the Spades’ power of persuasion has always been incredible. Kate has been a constant beacon for fashionable preppies, turning her simple handbag line into a major lifestyle brand. (Toronto’s own Virginia Johnson had a hand in Kate’s success; she illustrated her popular living and hostess handbooks.) The Partners and Spade Web site already has some HBC products: an axe with a striped handle, a kindling carry bag and a rugged-looking duffle.
Of course, upgrading staid retailers is not a new concept (just ask Joe Mimran, who placed his apparel brand Joe Fresh Style in Loblaws, giving customers a new shopping experience), but we can’t wait to see Spade’s ideas for the Hudson Bay Company’s image.