- Curtis Hinton
Curtis: Let's go back to when you first started studying fashion, what was the driving force behind this?
Joshua: I would say I, the driving force behind studying fashion is a little bit as to why I got into it. I think when I got into fashion I got into tailoring, I would say I got into tailoring, not fashion. Tailoring has always been my passion, it's what I love more than anything in the world and I would say that's what I got into. To become, in my mind a really good tailor and to go down that motion of going to where I wanted to be, I needed to learn fashion design as well as tailoring so I could get as many different perspectives on the industry to get to do what I really wanted to do. So I would say the driving force was to gain as much experience in as many assets as possible to get to where I wanted to be.
Curtis: At that point where is it you wanted to be?
Joshua: I think from the first time I discovered putting a suit on I knew that I wanted to make my own because I looked at it and thought, this looks great but it could look better if I made alterations. To get to the real root of it you have to go way back, when I was little I made my own toys, I got toys as a child which was great, but I would disassemble them and remake them adding bits to make them different, bigger and better! Because that's just the nature of me, I like changing things. So when I looked at clothes I felt the same way, I like the idea of clothes and I like the idea of looking a different way which is why I wanted to do it in my design, in my own way.
Curtis: To build a brand around your own name is always going to be difficult, especially when first starting out, what challenges did you face when launching Joshua Kane?
Joshua: So many different challenges I think I knew I wanted to build a brand, it's funny because that's what people do now. They work really hard to communicate a message through Instagram or Facebook and they are desperate for people to know the brand so when people are looking at them they know what they are looking at, but for me, it was different because I did it backwards. Because I was like, well this is me and I'm going to make suits that reflect my personality and I'm going to do it the way I want to do it and I'm going to make them look like me, my personality. I want someone to look at my suit and go that's a Joshua Kane. To answer the question I have literally poured my heart and my soul into my clothes and I've hoped that in time if I use that design handwriting enough people would be able to recognise my suits without having to actually see me in the picture.
Curtis: When you envisioned yourself in that first suit how different was it from the first suit you ever made?
Joshua: The first suit that I tried on, looked in a mirror and it generated a reaction? I can't really remember what it was. It probably would have been something out of my dad's wardrobe. I think I was going to a wedding, I was about 13 and we had some old clothes it was my dad's wardrobe and it was one of my brother's old suits, it was like a hand-me-down twice generation over. I was very influenced when I was 13 watching pulp fiction and seeing these bad guys in suits and thinking fuck that looks cool, and wanting to be like them in the movies and I remember putting it on and thinking it doesn't look like it does on them and I don't look as cool as they look. In my head, I started challenging myself and thinking why don't I look as cool as they look. I think that was my initial reaction, it was a little bit of inspiration and an early point for me.
Curtis: Let's talk about the process when making a new design. How do you even start a new collection?
Joshua: I always have an overlap when it comes to collections, I'm not one of these designers that finishes a collection and that's the end of it, something this year then something different next. I always have this transitional period and I think its just my creative process. I'm always working on the next project before I finish the last one. Things that don't quite fit evolve and the evolution period of that design supersedes the last collection and goes into the next one. It begins the foundations of the next collection and then I just build on that. I think of it as just layers. You add more and more layers and the better your design becomes, but that doesn't mean it has to become over-designed or too busy your layers could be minimal, it's just the layers of your design process and the process of elimination finding somethings that don't work and adding others. Sometimes it's about simplifying or sometimes throwing everything at it to seeing what happens.
Each design is a new challenge and each person is someone new to get to be creative for and for each person we work with they talk and then those they talk to talk and then before you know it everyone is talking.
Curtis: When you come to creating a new design you aren't creating a new collection you're creating what is essentially a new environment with runway shows, new look store decor, how much work goes into this?
Joshua: For me, there are enough clothes in the world, no-one needs more clothes. In terms of going and buying a beautiful bespoke suit, no one needs that. Creating something that is memorable, it could be the most important day of your life, like a wedding as we tailor suits for both (male and females) and creating this experience for people in this life with everyone knee-deep in shit news and everything is doom and gloom and it's all Brexit this and that, to be able to do something that makes people happy I think is an absolute luxury and a commodity to do something that makes people happy and that really stays with them. That's why I try to make it a complete experience from the moment they walk in, how the shop looks whilst they are having their fittings to what we offer them in their experience to the aftercare and even communicating with the customer after they have their suit. I love to see pictures especially if it's someone's wedding I love to see how happy their big day is and to think we were just a small proportion of that. I think that the whole experience is the future of luxury. If someone asked me what luxury was I would say it's the experience, the end product is just an element of it.
If you create the most amazing suit in the world but did not enjoy working with the person who made it for you, you would not have the same sentimental connection to the product and that's for me where we are trying to be different and trying to create something that's memorable. I like to use the expression 'It's never been done before' especially the thought process. Constantly trying to push and evolve the thought process.
I'm like a surrogate - I gave birth to something for them and they get to go and look after it. I'm like the surrogate mum who wants to see how it doing. I like to check in and make sure the babies are okay.
Curtis: The success you've had with your brand and the knowledge that people know what a Joshua Kane suit is, would you say this is higher than receiving an actual award?
Joshua: I don't know it's such a difficult question, I mean you use the word success like I'm a success - I don't believe myself as a success I just see my self on my own on my path on my own journey. There are things that we've done very well, things that have been very noteworthy and things that have been very successful. But in my mind, I haven't been successful yet because there are so many things that we still can do.
If I even begin to download what is in my mind on a day to day basis people will think, ‘You're a crazy man'. We are just 5 years in, we had our 5 year birthday in the summer and we made a video called ‘The JK5' which is three and half minutes long, it's a summary of everything we've done, from starting the company in my bedroom to our last fashion show. This is just step 1 of what I have planned. Year 1-5 is step 1, year 6-10 is step 2, years 11-15 is step 3 maybe at that stage we can start to think we are successful but until then we are just hustling like everyone else is.
Curtis: You've worked with many celebrities on different projects what is your most favourite piece you've worked on?
Joshua: Wow that's so hard, I mean there's probably two. Again all of my stories date back to my childhood because I still think I'm a child, I act like one, I try to be one. As a kid the first thing my mum ever taught me to draw was Spider-Man, I was obsessed with Spider-Man. I illustrated folders and folders of different outfits for Spider-Man and every day I would redraw his outfit. My first ever fashion designing as redesigning Spider-man's outfit with different colours and shapes and then I got obsessed with making it perfect. So when I met and got to create Tom Holland’s suits for the infinity war press tour I was literally making a suit for Spider-Man, I think I did a tweet where I said 'if childhood me could walk in to a room and I could say you've just made a suit for Spider-Man I would have to pinch myself', its such a fucking cool story me playing around drawing the designs as a child and then now making suits for the real Spider-Man.
Curtis: The Joshua Kane brand you have said you've just finished step 1... where does it go from here?
Joshua: I think I have been very vocal about things that I want to do, I just don't really know what order they will happen. Every business has a plan and it's like this and that. I have a series of stuff I want to do, I have a path that is predetermined to a point that is beyond my control. Like I'm a big believer in fate and things will happen when they are meant too, If I try and force them they won't happen correctly. I would love to open a store in America, I would say we are popular with L.A and New York. I love America I have been going on holiday there every year wherever I can. I lived in New York for a little bit, L.A is my favourite city in the world because I'm a skateboarder at heart and I love the climate, the culture and the old Hollywood glamour element. We have plans to open up pop-up stores in both cities in the next year or two. Really start taking my design ethos and letting other people experience it.
Curtis: Let talk about the upcoming runway collection, what's the inspiration behind this?
Joshua: 'Mythical Creatures' and escapism is the DNA of the collection. It's an evolution of what we have done in the past collections but there are going to be lots of crazy experiences and mythical animals. 'The Kinsfolk' by definition is to be blood-related, so with 'The Kinsfolk' we designed these pairs so the suits were meant to match and compliment but not be identical like DNA. Very much in the same ethos, there will be families of 'Mythical Creatures' in this collections so groups of designs that compliment one another based on creatures, like families or packs of animals. So take that approach and spice it with my tailoring and you'll end up with what we are about to do.
I think its the best reaction of my design capability that I've ever done. Will it be my best performance? I hope so.
Curtis: Thank you for your time Joshua.
Joshua: Thank you.