Renowned for his individual style, Mr. Ignatious Joseph is a fixture in a world of menswear, being a visible character in both business and international gatherings, such as Pitti Uomo. However, he isn’t one of the peacocks that go over the top with colours and freaky accessories – a vice versa. Taking a seemingly simple combination of blue blazer and grey trousers into sartorial heights by perfectly chosen shades of colours, clever proportion play – his cropped-cut trousers predate Thom Browne’s similar designs – and his trademark, rich-coloured red shoes, he successfully redefines the classic look and makes it truly his own.
Making a classic into his trademark isn’t all what Mr. Joseph is known for, however. Grown up in British Ceylon as a son of a local government official, Mr. Joseph was introduced to the classical style and manners from the early days of his life. Later, as a professional in the hospitality business, his understanding of style proved to be a priceless asset. When the sense of style amalgamated with valuable view about tastes of global business community, the foundation for his eponymous brand, IGN. Joseph, was solidly laid.
In IGN. Joseph, Mr. Ignatious Joseph has taken a task of spreading his sense of high-quality effortless elegance throughout the world. Despite his own preference for subtly coloured shirts, the whole range of IGN. Joseph caters to the wider audiences as well, with both classic styles and striking patterns being available. The products of the brand, which has its beginnings on fine shirts approximately 15 years ago, are available throughout the world from high class menswear retailers. Aside of shirts, IGN. Joseph offers neckwear, accessories and travel assessors in its lineup.
IGN. Joseph has also a strong ethos in putting artisanal work and quality before the often inflated “brandmaking” of many fashion labels. While several fashion brands produce endless clones in mass-marked factories, Mr. Ignatious Joseph maintains the integrity of IGN. Joseph by putting high quality, handcrafting and classic elegance as its core values.
An interview with Mr. Ignatious Joseph
Having met Mr. Ignatious Joseph a couple of times at Pitti Uomo, I finally had a chance to properly be acquainted with him and see his collection of fine menswear during an evening event, held in his beautiful apartment in Florence at Pitti Uomo 89. It became immediately apparent that, aside of very high quality menswear, Mr. Ignatious Joseph is a connoisseur of finer things. When discussing with him it became clear to me that I wanted to do an interview with him, as his outlook to style and life is something very inspirational for everyone wishing to choose the elegant path in life.
Currently residing in Düsseldorf, Germany, Mr. Joseph has lived in many cities around the world. However, in prior to menswear business, he gained insight about international clientele in a different path of profession. “I began in the hospitality business. To be successful here one has to really understand people and service. However, I wanted to get out of the corporate world and translate my experience and passion into a more personal form”, explains Mr. Joseph.
While the world of hotels gave him an important base and service spirit for business, the roots of his personal style philosophy had already grown in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in his youth: “I grew up in Sri Lanka, a British colony at the time. The British were known for their capacity to combine recreation with elegance. Take cricket for example, a game played in white clothing despite the long duration and the physical exertion involved. Despite its athletic qualities, cricket culture in my day was always governed by a dress code, a style with comfort. My stylistic philosophy might be described as comfort with a crease.”
The aforementioned comfort and elegance comes together in Mr. Joseph’s clothing label, IGN. Joseph, which produces, as he describes, “Clothing to ‘be seen, but not heard’, worn but not exhibited”. Founded approximately 15 years ago, the IGN. Joseph products are nowadays available throughout the world from high quality retailers, including several international online merchants.
“Of course it reflects my own style. I would not sell something I could not wear with pride” says Mr. Joseph when asked about the style of the brand. “Gentlemen’s attire has a history. Obviously I did not invent everything”, he continues, setting the brand even further apart from the often rather soulless fashion labels, where designers often just caters to the new-craving clientele.
Describing “simplicity and dignity” as the main characteristics of IGN. Joseph products and producing the goods in Europe, it would be easy to imagine that the pricing of Mr. Joseph’s products would fall into the top-tier, as well. That, however, isn’t the case. “Medium-price range, high-end quality” approach, as Mr. Joseph explains the value policy, makes the products available to a common man as well.
“As a merchant, I have had to respond to the general economic trends.”, says Mr. Joseph about following changes in trends of the menswear world. “However, I believe in fair trade. My brand was conceived with artisan production, sustaining the crafts which have always made clothing interesting. It has not been easy to maintain the quality of fabrics and tailoring while industrial production has driven many artisans out of business. Perfection in my brand is not a marketing device but a result of working with traditional, mainly family-run, manufacturers, where the final product always has a genuinely human touch, a touch which those who wear my apparel can feel”, he continues, explaining the importance the true craftsmanship and quality has to him. “I am happy when my brand sustains and expands the appreciation for the artisanal clothing and those who produce it.”
Despite being a visible and memorable attendee at menswear gatherings, Mr. Ignatious Joseph doesn’t take part into the “menswear icon” culture, emerged during the Internet age. “I do not have any icons”, says Mr. Joseph. “To be well-dressed is not a religion, it is certainly no place for fanaticism of any kind”, he states, underlining the age-old gentlemen’s code to maintain integrity, no matter what.
The menswear gatherings – especially Pitti Uomo – remain very important to Mr. Joseph for more relevant reasons. “Pitti Uomo has remained the most important place to exchange ideas about gentlemen’s style and to communicate with the artisans who make the finest products.” From these exchanges, an opportunity to collaborate with other style aficionados sometimes occurs: “Occasionally I collaborate with individual retailers where there is a devoted clientele that shares my fascination and enthusiasm. I am certainly interested in sharing my enthusiasm wherever there is inspirational potential.”
Of course, there are other fine things in life, as well. A proponent of classic ways, Mr. Joseph relaxes among gentlemanly pastimes: “I travel. I read. I follow the principal sports that the British spread around the world – cricket and football. I am also no stranger to fine food, but even there I’m not addicted to fashion or expense”, he says. The same considerate approach extends into his view about a modern gentleman – “Mobile, erudite, patient and circumspect. Despite the acceleration of travel and media, the gentleman does not worship speed for its own sake”. This view, certainly, is a solid advice.
Stylefellow wishes to thank Mr. Ignatious Joseph for this interview.
Text: Jussi Häkkinen, Anu Rautalin
Images: Ignatious Joseph, Anu Rautalin