A week ago, the new Blackjack was unveiled. It’s now a free-standing store with their very own eponymous label. Will you bite?
Blackjack is back, as we announced two weeks ago. Once a multi-label store, they are now a single-brand boutique in The Shopping Gallery (voco Orchard) that is conceived to lure the Gen-Z—and younger—customer. That is unmistakable from the minute you come face to face with the all-glass façade of the next-to-the-escalator unit. Unlike the green-top table on which the casino banking game—which lent its name to this fashion label—is played, the interior is essentially in black and white, totally unlike the CC you know in your neighbourhood. It vaguely reminded us of Alexander Wang stores in China (interestingly, the one in The Shopping Gallery, opened in 2012, is now shuttered). And, also Tokyo’s #FFFFFFT and sibling #000T, stores offering white tees and black tees respectively. Blackjack is now a “luxury fashion label”, unabashedly with a street vibe.
The clothes are merchandised for those with a closetful of casual clothes and wish to keep it that way. Almost every piece in the debut “capsule”, described by the brand as “limited edition”, is for those occasions when dressy would elicit the respond, “going to a wedding?” Don’t get us wrong. The clothes could be suitable for an evening event, such as a night out at the bar or club with your close, clamorous friends, but beyond that, they lack the versatility that we imagine such a line would benefit from. There is a predominance of T-shirts and, unsurprisingly, hoodies, but they are not of the persuasion that might find you using them for sports or wearing to next month’s reunion dinner. (Curiously, every piece is for pre-order only.) Although we were told by the staff that the “clothes are unisex”, the store appears to be separated into two parts: for men and women. The crop tees and tanks are, as the staffer, said, picked up by women. They speak to us campus chic and will probably attract a pair of Havaianas or, if open toes are not preferred, Crocs—white, of course.
Despite being a store founded in the mid-’90s, Blackjack the label is not the jeans couture or the leisurewear in the form of Juicy Couture of the era. It has more in common with the athleisure of the present, moving along contemporaneously with the oversized aesthetics of Balenciaga (its fate, after the Christmas ad controversy, unknown). But unlike those brands that eagerly jumped on the bandwagon of the oversized T-shirts and the midriff-baring, Blackjack is rather design-centred. Considerable thought is paid to the fineness of the fabric choice (it felt like double-knit cotton jersey for the tees—truly nice hand feel), proportion of the garment (not ridiculously voluminous), logo placement (skewed!), and details/trims (even in the back). We rather like the truncated contrast binding in the rear hem of some of the T-shirts, but not the elastics with screaming logotype on the pants, shorts, and skirts—too Alexander Wang. regrettably.
It’s heartening that a physical, not just online, store is opened to encourage those who want to be acquainted with the brand to touch and properly feel the merchandise for themselves before committing to a purchase. This is especially vital when you consider that the clothes, being the output of a “luxury fashion label”, is not exactly cheap. The least expensive T-shirt is S$120 and a nylon tote is S$190. These prices are probably not alien to those already forking out astronomical sums for those by the likes of Gucci X Adidas. It can be confidently said that none in their target market would remember Blackjack of yore. This can be a totally new fashion name and few would know any better. The link to its past is, therefore, not quite decipherable. In the monochromatic space, faded photos of the first store at HPL House explain the brand’s origin. A pair of vintage Maharishi pants (apparently in collaboration with Blackjack then) is hung to the left of the entrance. Do tokens from the past lend credibility to a fledgling clothing brand of the present?
Blackjack is at voco Orchard. Photos: Chin Boh Kay