Back in the summer of 2013, news broke that Haspel, famed New Orleans purveyor of seersucker and poplin, would undergo a relaunch with designers Shipley and Halmos at the helm. Formerly a licensed brand, Haspel would once again produce its own line, and do so in the USA. Traditionalists with fond memories of Haspel’s crisp, warm-weather suiting will no doubt be dismayed by the result, but by now they should be well acquainted with disappointment.
The collection is brightly colored, slim, and fanatically on-trend. Neo-prep tropes such as patch madras, bright chinos, and sockless loafers are hodgepodged together with the latest #menswear fetishes in the form of double-breasted jackets with bold windowpane checks. There is even a “dignified hoodie” in the form of a sailing jacket layered under a suit.
No doubt Haspel is trying to appeal to the broadest base possible, but the effect is a congeries of discordant themes.
Any reference to the brand’s hundred-year history is limited to the “history” section of the company website; the clothes lack even the watered-down vintage look found in other heritage-inspired lines. Lacking any specific sense of time and place and disconnected from its past, Haspel is diluted by a vague “nowness” that fails to speak to any specific sensibility. It is neither totally neo-prep, nor Southern heritage, nor, despite signifiers such as patch pockets on a double breasted jacket, a sartorial lifestyle brand, and yet it strives to be all of these simultaneously.
This non-committal lack of focus might be the result of poor timing. In terms of the heritage prep trend, Haspel is certainly late to the lawn party. — ZD
Update: Haspel’s PR firm has informed us that Graj + Gustavsen is no longer working with the brand in any capacity, and that what was referred to as a “hoodie” is actually a sailing jacket. This article has been corrected to reflect this information.