Bucking The Tide
Style meets art at JJ Cooper, an upscale boutique that’s taking aim at men’s fashion on Amelia Island and throwing its first bash with painter Bradley Gordon
For a long time, men who lived in Fernandina Beach and wanted wardrobes that made them look more like distinguished gents and less like surfers headed to the beach didn’t have many options. Shopping for nice clothes meant driving 45 minutes to Jacksonville.
But not anymore, thanks to JJ Cooper. This men’s boutique, located in the heart of historic downtown on Centre Street, offers high-end apparel including button-down shirts, pants, suits, sport coats, shoes and tuxedo rentals, as well as accessories like luxurious leather bags and shaving kits. Some popular brands that the store carries are Peter Millar, Fish Hippie, Moore & Giles, Paige, A Fish Named Fred,
Randolph, Swims, and Smathers & Branson.
Everything at JJ Cooper is sold with a touch of (masculine) southern charm. Walk into the refurbished late 19th-century two story building housing the store and you’ll see exposed brick walls, a bourbon-filled bar, feather bowties by Charleston-based company Brackish, and fine art depicting iconic southern animals like mallards, dogs, and bucks painted by Bradley Gordon of Oxford, Mississippi.
Gordon, who has gained national attention for his modern wildlife artwork, is partnering with
JJ Cooper for the shop’s upcoming Southern Showcase this summer, which will feature the artist and 28 of his new paintings of coastal landscapes and animals. The event, equal parts art expo and shopping fete, will highlight items from the store’s vendors with live music and food from local chefs. If you’re lucky, 10-month-old William, son of owners Betsy and Jake Michaelis, will make an appearance—in an infant-sized seersucker suit, of course.
“We try to do a little bit more than everybody else,” says co-founder Jake Michaelis, who grew up on Amelia Island. The 41-year-old opened the store with his wife and another business partner in January 2017.
The store’s associates pull together stylized looks for customers, and an in-house tailor ensures perfect fits. JJ Cooper will even deliver clothing when it’s ready.
“I never wore jeans to high school. I wore pants. I never walked out the door with my shirt untucked. I took the approach of: You never know who you’re going to run into. Dressing up shows respect and that you care,” says Michaelis, who sees customers walk out the shop’s door with new clothes and newfound confidence.