It’s nearly 45 years since Joseph Ettedgui, the small, bespectacled retailer rarely without his cigar, left Casablanca and set up shop in London. Ettedgui revolutionised the way British women shopped, introducing Azzedine Alaïa and Helmut Lang, and eventually his own line, to his Norman Foster-designed shop on the King’s Road.
Now under creative director Louise Trotter, Joseph is continuing Ettedgui’s obsession with items that never languish in the wardrobe unworn, as well as precision tailoring and perfectly cut trousers, with their first ever menswear line. It’s an approach Mark Thomas, Joseph’s head menswear designer, clearly shares. “For the men’s first season we wanted to build a wardrobe, and the essence is about the perfect luxury essentials,” explains the softly spoken designer. “This will be the foundation for the future collections, which is what Joseph did in the very beginning – we’re linking the past with the present.” Thomas’s first collection draws on Mods, rockers and skinheads. His pea coats are cropped and given a new spin in waxy, checked wool. Silk trousers are streaked with wide pinstripes, while neat wool trousers swing at the ankles. A donkey jacket, once sturdy enough to protect dustbin men’s shoulders, in Thomas’ hands is smartly cut and particularly polished.
“A white underwear T-shirt was considered risky at one time,” says Thomas, who cut his teeth at Givenchy and Neill Barrett. “I am just fascinated by subcultures and I don’t think they exist in that way any more. Everything is so over-referenced and evolves so quickly. I love the conviction and the purity of how they dressed; it’s about a gang of lads in uniform. They took one garment and made it iconic – the parka, the biker jacket, the Crombie are all [still] staples in men’s wardrobe today.”
All clothes by Joseph
Art direction Mate Moro, Aron Filkey
Creative direction Nora Gyenge
Styling assistant Harry Doncaster