So the Bloke has passed a year and they decided to celebrate.
So a menswear party that takes place in LA? Fuck yeah.
Jeffery Plansker is the man. He decided menswear store in a city that isn’t stereotypically LA (Pasadena is about 30 minutes from DTLA) in a way that was traditional. No 3D scanners, no synthetic fabrics. All heritage and contemporary brands that make classic men’s clothing, all sold in a place that is almost literally lifted from London (it’s called Burlington Arcade for a reason). And so, The Bloke was born!
Jeff’s store follows how the market has shifted toward the independent menswear “atelier”. While mall-brands like J. Crew and Banana Republic will always have their place, guys are slowly moving products that are a bit different and higher quality. Stuff like Drake’s and Ring Jacket, are finally being sold together in one place. The store experience is also important, as many of these places function more like lounges and can be equipped for events, rather than just being like a supermarket.
This whole phenomenon has lead to the popularity of retail places like The Armoury, Brio Beijing, No Man Walks Alone, Trunk Clothiers, and even the development of similarly positioned (but private label) stores like Drake’s, Anglo-Italian, and Sid Mashburn. With that said, it seems that major cities like London and NYC are the epicenters of this movement featuring concentrated groups of menswear guys and fun events. For a while, LA was left in the dark. The only stores we had were Brooks Brothers and J. Crews. Now we have The Bloke!
Having the Bloke around has been so great. It’s the only place in LA (that I know of) where you can get Drake’s ties, good selvedge denim, Alden’s shoes, Kamakura shirts, and Rowing Blazers jackets. Thanks to this curated selection of goodies, it then functions as a destination store for many LA guys, giving us a place to hang out and drool over clothes. It certainly helps that the store is very open, with plenty of space to stand or sit, and close to a handful of eateries.
It’s only run by two people, Jeff and his store manager James. You can go in and ask them anything, with Jeff more than likely sharing a personal story about the particular brand. Jeff is also a DJ and you can definitely tell from looking around the store. Vintage jazz poster adorn the walls, with the occasional menswear book or vintage magazine available for sale as well. The next room also has a few jazz records for extra measure.
In general, the store is awesome and I’m always excited to go in, partly for the products and partly just for existing and providing a space for menswear to gather. I mean, Drake’s has been there a few times now, allowing us to see more than just ties!
The store has made it through their first year and decided to celebrate this with a Drake’s trunk show and a party with music, drinks, and great company. Jeff actually closed the store for a week in order to rearrange a few things and give The Bloke a fresh look for it’s second 365 run. I got to the store a bit before the party to photograph the new changes without people in the way.
Adding to the fun One Year festivities, there was also photography exhibit in the vacant space across The Bloke. The first floor was called “This American Carnage” and the second floor had studio shots of when the photographer, Bill Gubbins, spent two weeks in 1969 shooting Frank Zappa in the studio recording Hot Rats. As a guy who has always had an interest in natural, snapshot-esque photography, I found it amazing.
The day started with a Drake’s Fall trunk show, headed by NYC manager Matt Woodruff, but the party started at 6PM and kept going until shortly before midnight. There actually was a great turn out (I tried my best to hype up the event), being a mix of invited clients, vendors (Put This On, Drake’s, Eight & Bob, etc), menswear enthusiasts, and wandering locals. I love menswear events (because I like connecting in a niche community) but I also like being able to meet new people! It was basically like LA’s version of the countless events that seem to be a dime a dozen in NYC, Hong Kong, and London.
I was literally torn between talking to cool people and documenting the night, though I was able to find a middle ground and enjoy the party. I really felt that there was potential in this night, as if people know that there is a community, they will want to be apart of it (or at least support the store) and it will grow! I was certain that there were guys out here in LA who had severe FOMO about the recent Drake’s x The Rake party.
Plus we always love a chance to take some silly pictures with some super stylish people! And boy, they definitely brought their A-game.
Quick outfit explanation. I obviously wanted to wear something Drake’s-esque but through my lens. I was completely enamored with the mustard yellow corduroy jacket and wanted something like it for this fall/winter. Luckily, during a visit to Roxy’s Vintage Deluxe, I found this true vintage sack-jacket. The fit is perfect and the cloth is wonderfully broken in; I’m probably going to wear it lots.
It was a nice match for grey Stoffa trousers (to no surprise) and a pinned, blue striped spearpoint with my Drake’s foulard. I mean, what else would I do except a striped shirt and patterned tie? Overall, it’s semi-inspired by Alex Winchell’s outfit, just with a burgundy foulard instead of a navy tie.
Spencer also goes Drake’s inspired thanks to this hearty superplaid tweed sack-jack (from Brooks no less), a blue stripe OCBD, and a paisley tie that reminds me of the 40th anniversary Drake’s ties. Bonus points for the saturated socks and the unlined chukka boots. It’s straight up Michael Hill!
Oh boy. This event was one of the funnest nights I’ve had! Sure it’s cool to see Drake’s in my local menswear store, but it was just the different guys I was able to meet and hang out with. I tried my best to spread the word since it’s better to hang out all together instead of one-on-one without any real central theme; it ended up working, as you can see in all of the pictures! Now we’re back to waiting until the next menswear event where we can all be together again, without too many weird looks.
Congratulations to The Bloke, Jeffrey, and James for this milestone achievement. It’s a tough industry to be in, but they’ve clearly done a great job to keep the business thriving. We’ve also got to thank them for putting on such a great event! Without them, LA would have been lost, lacking it’s own destination atelier and falling further behind the other menswear cities. Thanks to the Bloke, we can hold our own.
Luckily, things aren’t over. On November 3, I’m doing a J. Crew event at South Coast Plaza in the OC and on the following day (Sunday, doy) Spencer and I will be at Disneyland for Dapper Day! I hope to see you guys there, but maybe you should follow me on instagram or join the FB Group to find out more updates.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
Photography by the Wongsta