Joshua Kane dreams big. His two boyhood passions were football and clothes. Having played in goal for Fulham FC until the age of 20, his pursuit of a career in the Premier League went further than most. Last month, during London Fashion Week, Kane sold out a show at the London Palladium, his footballing past now eclipsed by a career in tailoring.
After retiring from football, Kane won the chance to work at Brooks Brothers’ design studio in New York before moving on to be assistant designer at Jaeger, Porsum designer at Burberry and senior designer at Paul Smith. He then started his own studio in the sitting room of his flat. In less than three years, his brand has morphed from a front room via LFW into a standalone store in Fitzrovia.
This is the rise of Joshua Kane, in his own words.
The fashion world
“I was never a fashion person. I hate that exclusive, fashionista-style world. The further I entered it, the more I fell in love with the design aspect. I was always taught that tailoring is like sculpture. Anyone can access it – it doesn’t mean you’re going to buy that sculpture for £250,000, or that suit for £1,500, but you should still be able to enjoy it on a level other than just retail.
"It’s only fucking clothes. We’re only making clothes, for people to buy, and people to enjoy. It’s enjoyment out of physical things – nothing more than that.
"What I’ve always wanted to do is create stories, in the same way that you watch a film and the next morning still have flashbacks. I wanted to create something you can build on rather than a collection being over; the story of my characters evolve – there’s something to keep going back to.
"The idea of trends in fashion is bollocks. Absolute bollocks. People like different things; famous people are maybe wearing more tracksuits, but that’s just what’s being thrown at your face in pictures. You’ve still got people who love tailoring, who buy four or five suits at a time.”
“I’ve been super lucky to work with the likes of Sir Paul Smith and Christopher Bailey, which was really inspiring. However, while I was at Paul Smith, I had a really bad day and quit my job as senior designer. I panicked – I didn’t know how I was going to pay my mortgage. I called a couple of interns and said I had a job. They thought it was at Paul Smith, and I said, ‘well, come to this address’.
"I gutted my house overnight. I cleared out my living room, set up my mannequins and machines, and said, ‘We’re going to start Joshua Kane Bespoke. We’re going to make suits. I’m a trained tailor: I can make a suit in a month, but now I’m going to have to make one every nine days.’
"I had a bunch of business cards from three years of parties, where I’d be dressed in my own suits and be asked where I get them. I made up an assistant’s name, sent out loads of emails, booked in appointments, and within about 12 days Russell Brand turned up and said, ‘I’ve heard about your suits. I really want one for the stage.’ We did loads for him, and this August we finished his wedding suit.”
Kane as director
In the run up to September’s spectacle at the Palladium, Kane directed three short films, setting the agenda for both his show and the new collection. The shorts, starring Asa Butterfield [from the film Hugo], served as a dramatic teaser in the weeks preceding the show.
“I’ve caught the bug. It’s a creative outlet. It’s a fresh perspective. People don’t know how clothes move when they direct, but I do. I understand proportion, silhouette, movement of fabric, and how you can create dramatic, beautiful moments. I would love to do a feature-length version.
"It was all filmed here [in his studio] in six hours. We green-screened the back wall, and built battlements to interact with. Asa [Butterfield] is a friend of mine, and an amazing actor. His last film was the lead in a Tim Burton movie, and he stepped into my basement to be directed by an absolute first-timer. It couldn’t be any more rogue! But that’s why he did it. He loved how crazy my ideas were.”