For the debut of its first menswear flagship – located on London’s Savile Row, no less – luxury British label Joseph is taking us back to its 1990s heyday. ‘Black and white, masculine and feminine, classic and contemporary – designing the store has been about stripping the label right down to its core elements,’ says Simon Mitchell of Sybarite, the architecture firm behind the new outpost’s slick interior.
Launched in 1972 by Moroccan entrepreneur Joseph Ettedgui, the Joseph brand grew from a small display of Kenzo knitwear in Ettedgui's Chelsea hair salon into a global retail chain, unearthing designers such as Castelbajac, Azzedine Alaia and Yohji Yamamoto along the way.
‘The thing about Joseph Ettedgui, was that he really was a curator,’ says creative director Louise Trotter of her pioneering predecessor, who passed away in 2010, a year after she began her tenure at the brand. ‘So [for the menswear store] we wanted to find a space to curate the clothes. We ended up creating a series of three rooms, each with a different identity and each with a different purpose.’
The first of the three spaces is an open, uncluttered entranceway where product is kept to a minimum. Only the most fashion-forward pieces are displayed here, arranged across marble plinths or hung on the angular, wall-mounted rails. Moving into the central space, white shelving and rail units precisely outlined by glowing black frames showcase the complete ‘Joseph wardrobe’. The third and final section at the back of the store is given over to what Trotter calls the ‘Joseph uniform’ – the wardrobe staples for which the brand is renowned.
The material palette, Mitchell says, is an ode to Joseph’s tradition of playing with opposites. On the ceiling, mirror is paired with black glass; on the floors, concrete is juxtaposed with the store’s original chequerboard tiles, while display fixtures mix vulcanised rubber with corten steel and marble. ‘There’s a tradition and a classicism to Joseph, but always with something that’s unexpected and we worked hard to reflect that in the space,’ reflects Trotter, pointing out playful details such as the tactile bulbous rubber door handles that welcome customers into the store and the marble display plinths that sit like chess pieces on the chequerboard tiles.
With a busy year of store openings ahead (new outposts are set to spring up in Miami, the UAE, Singapore, the Philippines and China) the 1000-sq-ft Savile Row store is a significant step in the brand’s expansion into menswear, which only began in 2013. ‘Joseph is always about organic growth; we grow and we open when it feels right,’ says Trotter. ‘I think the Savile Row store will be an amazing opportunity for us to really get to know the menswear customer and from here, we’ll be able to understand where we can grow.’