16th Feb 2016
There’s a talented new tailor about town.With the launch of the Lexus Life RX campaign featuring Jude Law in London last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Kane, bespoke tailor and fashion’s new prodigy, tipped to be the next Alexander McQueen. Here he talks us through his process, his inspiration and the importance of diversity.
You’ve worked at Paul Smith, Jaeger and Burberry Prorsum. How did that experience help you to launch your own label?
I think it helped a huge amount but I always knew what I wanted to do. At about fourteen or fifteen when I started buying clothes, I realized that I wanted to make my own and so my mum taught me how to sew. I think I made my first suit for someone when I was seventeen and then I started making my own and I’ve worn them ever since. It was inevitable I was going to end up creating my own label and I wanted to wait until I was thirty, but I had an opportunity at twenty-eight, that generated a lot of press, and I thought hey, why wait another two years? Let’s just go for it now! I left my job and went home, albeit slightly panicked. I had a mortgage to pay and suddenly didn’t have an income. I called two friends, got two interns to come around and we sat on the floor and did a mind map of what I wanted to do in a month. I sold one suit, then sold another?this was from my house and that was less then two years ago.
In two years I opened my flagship store and design studio. I’ve got between 10-15 full-time staff and 30 part-time staff. For me, the whole point of the brand is not ever cutting a corner and not ever trying to make margin. I would rather be more luxurious, do something even more extreme, try and keep the price point as relative as possible all the while designing really indulgent beautiful things that I love.
Jude Law on set at the Lexus Life RX campaign
From looking at your designs, attention to detail is something that really stands out. How long does it take you to design a collection from pen on paper to final fitting?
It really varies. I actually make half of the runway collection myself and then work with the factory on production. I create the pattern and most of the suits are all first time prototypes. I will literally, in an old bespoke way cut a sleeve and put it in. If it doesn’t work, I’ll scrap it and make another sleeve until it works. I can do one prototype in two weeks and it can be perfect but in that two weeks it’s incredibly labour intensive and I can’t be distracted by anything. I’ll then finalize the final pattern and give it to be replicated. There are not many people who do that.
And especially nowadays with the much talked about concept of fast fashion, (Raf Simons resigned from Dior and Alber Elbaz left Lavin) what’s your take on that?
It’s a labour of love. To put an understanding on it, in three years I’ve taken three days off and I work seven days a week but it’s because I love it and I wouldn’t do anything else. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in amazing companies and gained experience but there’s nothing quite like being able to do it the way that you want to do it and work with and choose the people who you want to work with.
Do you have a career mentor?
I’ve probably had three or four career mentors along the way but without sounding cheesy or corny, I’d have to say, my mother and father. My mother was a fabulous interior designer and my father, an incredible businessman. I grew up with these two extreme sides, the creative and the business and I sat in the middle and tried to take in a bit of both.
What do you think will be the next menswear trend?
We don’t really work in trends as I find it fast fashion. For me, it’s outlooks on luxury and inspiration can come from cars, (Kane collaborated with Lexus for the immersive theatre experience of the Life RX from a quality point of view) or it can come from music. It’s about personalization, luxury coming through in qualitative garments that feel and are made for you or personalized to you in some way or another. There’s more aspirational and educated menswear consumers now and it’s the biggest growing section of the fashion industry essentially. Everyone’s more educated, everyone wants to know where everything is made or made out of and who is involved in the making of it. It’s about education and information.
Your catwalk shows embrace diversity with an array of models showcasing different skin tones, hair lengths and tattoos. Is that important to you?
This actually came from my first season when I didn’t have the cash flow to pay models so I went through Facebook and hired all of my friends. In the last runway show, about 75% of the models are all friends literally off my Facebook messenger. We had everyone from Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas and Dougie from McBusted to Machine Gun Kelly from Bad Boy Records who closed the show. We’ve got this quite cool, very organic, very sort of rock ‘n roll, hey let’s just kind of do it attitude but on a really polished product and for me, showing that diversity in model is really, really important. Everyone’s got a personality.
And finally, who do you think is the most stylish man?
He’s not alive anymore. Beau Brummel, the original dandy. He basically invented the suit as it is today or he certainly set the path going forward.
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