This weekend, the guys and I decided to check out the latest LA destination for classic menswear: the Bloke. This is going to be a long post.
LA is an interesting place when it comes to menswear. If you’re particularly affluent, you usually buy brand names: Hugo Boss, Tom Ford, etc. If you’re in the average camp, your wardrobe will probably be more along the lines of Suit Supply, Indochino, and J. Crew. Obviously, vintage stores and warehouses have their place, but this is usually the way it goes: designers or mall brands. Los Angeles really lacks the cool, inviting haberdasheries like The Armoury, Drake’s, or Trunk Clothiers. That is, until the Bloke opened.
The Bloke is the brain child of Jeffery Plansker , a fellow “LA-based creative” who has directed films/commercials and hosts a radio show on DubLabs. Like the owners of the stores I mentioned, he felt a need to start a store after realizing that there was no one stop place for him to shop. A place where you could grab a drink and purchase a great pair of jeans or shoes. While most of menswear has been falling toward an Italian theme the past five years, Jeffery pushed for a mid century, British-American blend. The entire store felt like a love-letter to the mod movement thanks to the iconography, music, and clothes. For added measure, the store is located in the gorgeous Burlington Arcade in Pasadena that makes it look like it’s right out of central London.
I’ve been semi-involved with the store opening, as I first came into contact with Jeffery when he posted about it on the Ivy Style Facebook page. His mention of Alden shoes and Drake’s ties really intrigued me. Eventually we had coffee a few times and discussed his store. What was very surprising was that he did almost everything on his own. He designed the space, he met with retailers while on vacation, and even had a hand in literally building the store.
Almost all of the products were British made: Loake shoes, Drake’s shirts and ties, Fred Perry polos, and Corgi socks. However, we had some American representation with Alden shoes and Tellason denim! As far as I know, there really isn’t a retail store like this here in LA. Normally, we regular retailers which has everything (denim, suits, shirts, shoes) under their label: Muji, Johnston & Murphy, Suit Supply, and so on. A store with a curated vision and a variety of brands is something unheard of here, at least in my experience.
Let’s dive into the store.
It’s really great to have a place in LA to get Drake’s shirt and ties. People say that we can get Drake’s stuff from Barney’s, but there’s a huge difference between buying online and be able to see the garment for yourself. Obviously this type of model doesn’t work on guys who prefer a good deal or need a cheap piece, but having an actual physical location allows us to fuel our hobby and continue to come back repeatedly until we eventually buy it. It’s pretty dangerous, especially for me, since I love Drake’s.
Fred Perry is a brand that I’m not all too familiar with. Started in 1952, the british polo brand made polo shirts and shorts and eventually grew in popularity during the 1960’s. With colored ribbing on the sleeves and collar, they look great if you’re looking for that midcentury-mod look. Obviously, I prefer spearpoints and gaucho style ones but I could see these being rocked with skinny jeans and chelseas or loafers (with white socks).
You can sometimes judge a haberdasher based on their choice in shoes, and carrying Alden’s is a great sign. As one of the best shoemakers in the world, they are an aspirational brand for me to own. Right now they have three pairs in stock: Norwegian Split toes (perfect timing, considering the recent article by Derek), Derbie longwings, and a classic penny loafer. I’m sure if they carried cordovan pairs, they would certainly attract the hardcore menswear guys. I’m sure they’re hiding somewhere in LA!
The Bloke also carries a few pairs from Loake, the shoemaker that made my chukkas. There were variations of tassel loafers, but it was their penny loafers that caught my eye. These had a perfect shape and came in a gorgeous color of light brown suede. Unfortunately they only had down to a size 8D (I’m a 7E), but I would’ve walked out with a pair if they had some.
It’s important to note that since they are a small clothier, the Bloke only carries a few in each size. If you want to grab a pair, you better buy them before they sell out!
In addition to clothes and a variety of men’s lifestyle accoutrements (cologne, whiskey, soaps, watches, etc), they have a small annex where they plan to host different pop-ups. To differentiate themselves from other habadasheries that host trunk shows for traveling makers like Ambrosi, Nackymade, and Spigola, Jeffery wanted to do more artisanal things that would jive with the less-menswear focused clientele of Los Angeles.
His first pop-up is Groove Merchants, a purveyor of vintage records and music posters. I’m not a huge music guy, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves. I can definitely see a cool native Angelino stop in for some records and perhaps decide to up his style with some raw denim or a great pair of British footwear.
You might notice a lack of uber sartorial pieces here (besides the Drake’s shirts and Tellason chinos) but the reason is obvious: LA doesn’t wear suits. However, Jeffery partnered up with his friend Jonathan Behr Bespoke in order to handle the clients who do want something more formal. Jonathan’s bespoke shop is actually in Beverly Hills, but the Bloke was positioned to serve as a satellite shop to clients who don’t live too far West. It reminds me of how the Armoury started in Hong Kong, as they were conceived as a accessory/measurement showroom for W.W Chan. Obviously they grew in size and began to work with other makers.
I didn’t get to look too much into the fabric books, but they’re pretty lightweight. I mean this is LA after all.
Another stand out was their sunglasses collection. With classic wayfarers and some rounded frames, they provide a pretty versatile look. I’m in love with the blue-ish green lenses, which definitely contrasts to what you normally see. You can see that the round ones really give off a 30’s vibe while the wayfarer’s give off a 60’s one. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing some frames!
Ryan, who joined us again after the PJT trunk show, decided to grab some dope frames. The blond color really is different than the browns and blacks (or shiny golds) that most people wear while the green lenses really pop. He even got to pick a leather carrier for them (he went with black)!
It can’t be a blog post without some style documentation! Everyone was immaculately dressed and I hope perhaps we set the tone for the occasional Pasadena passerby. I’m a firm believer of “creating the market” and a lot of people seldom dress up here; if we make it look easy and effortless, perhaps I’ll finally have the squad I’ve been waiting for.
The owner himself. Jeff never struck me as a flamboyant dresser, but you don’t always need to be in order to look good. With a simple combination of white trousers, blue OCBD, striped tie, and a great ivy jacket, he made a dope outfit. Obviously khaki chinos would have been the “ivy” choice, but the white trousers give off a more LA (or even Italian) vibe that is much more intentional. I’m probably going to copy this at some point.
I caught Mr. Johnathan Behr right as the shop opening was ending, so I barely had a chance to connect with him. He wore a sharp 3PC suit (with upturned peak lapels no less!) with a checked shirt and a purple tie/pocket square. Since his main showroom is near my own work, I’m certain that we haven’t heard the last of him!
Roy is a classic menswear enthusiast that really exudes what it means to have a natural, long lasting style. While I scour eBay and thrift stores for 1960’s jackets and OCBDs and, he actually has kept everything that he’s worn throughout his life. Does that mean he’s wearing his own clothes or does that make him a vintage enthusiast as well?
Either way, his style is impeccable with touches of prep, ivy, and trad all over, which is especially cool considering that he’s been in LA for a long time (which doesn’t come to mind when you think ivy). He wore a simple ensemble of light brown trousers, bowtie, OCBD, and navy blazer. However, it’s all the details that matter. The jacket has triple patch pockets and is a poly-wool blend. While most tend to hate polyester anything, Roy brought up some good points: the jacket doesn’t wrinkle, it can be easily cleaned, and it gathers no moth holes.
Like Johnathan, I’m sure we’re going to see Roy more and more on this blog.
It’s odd to see Spencer pair denim and a sportcoat, considering that he wears more vintage than I do! The combo of a brown jacket, OCBD, and selvedge denim is something that I’d consider “new ivy” since denim has replaced the chino as the “goes-with-everything” trouser. For those of you who want to look smart without going all in on tailoring, this is a look to copy. Personally, I would have gone with a striped shirt to keep things more visually interesting.
Ryan is a slight ivy-trad dresser that absolutely killed it at this opening. With a navy jacket, he adds in the quintessential blue-white stripe button-down collar shirt (a dope choice) with a black knit tie for some solid charm; instead of khakis, he opts for green trousers from his Sid Mashburn fresco suit. It’s a great pairing with his blue jacket that interesting enough to have harmony without being out of place. I’m definitely stealing this look myself.
Here’s my ivy outfit. Originally, I was going to wear a brown jacket and denim, but once Spencer showed up, I decided that it wouldn’t set a cool image if we matched. Obviously a blue blazer was necessary, but opting for my 1940’s wool-mohair one instead of a traditional 3-roll-2 jacket, makes this outfit a firm “Ethan’s approach to ivy”. The pleated grey trousers, white socks, and black penny loafers are also my choices (trads would go with flat fronts and burgundy/brown pennys) while the striped OCBD and repp tie are the normal choices.
Overall, it’s a fairly simple outfit but I think it’s one of my best. What do you think?
I’m really glad that the Bloke opened up here in Pasadena. Even though I leave near LA, I’ve found that good classic menswear stores are hard to come by, especially in a haberdashery sense. I’d say that Sid Mashburn (in Santa Monica) is the only one that comes close, but perhaps the Bloke will give them a run for their money! Like I said earlier, almost all the other stores here only sell their own stuff. Having a store that sells a bunch of different brands that are curated in a unique way is something I’ve been waiting for. Obviously this was a soft opening and their products will change overtime. I know that they are still waiting to carry Kamakura shirts, which is a definite boon to any LA ivy enthusiast since Kamakura only sells out of NYC or online.
At least for now, there’s a cool store that has the propensity to host some fantastic brands and introduce them to a LA market. Perhaps it’s the first step in bringing classic menswear to Los Angeles! I can’t wait to check them out once they start carrying Kamakura and when they have other pop-ups and events, as that’s the way that Jeffery wants to market his store and set it apart from the typical faire.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
Photography by Ethan W.