"If I'm going to design a peacoat," said Joseph's newly minted menswear designer, Mark Thomas, ex- of Givenchy and Neil Barrett, "then it has to be the best around. After all, the shop purchases so many other brands' collections, mine has to stand out from the rest." For the non-U.K.-based, here's a bit of a tutorial: Joseph is one of London's iconic multibrand shops, known for its fierce edit of top designers and for its eponymous in-house women's and menswear collections. For the first time in its forty-year history, the company has hired a head of design for the men's collection, and Thomas was tapped. And for his inaugural collection, called "The Iconics," he had a simple goal: To remind customers of the brand's DNA of luxury. To do that, he worked with three themes (black/white, masculine/feminine, and Anglo/Franco) and four wardrobe mainstays (the peacoat, the jean jacket, the parka, and the jean).
"I wanted to combine London youth culture of skinheads and mods with an elegant, sophisticated French aesthetic," Thomas said. "My guiding lights were fabric, cut, and fit." To prove his point, Thomas created a luxurious double-face cashmere cargo jacket—effectively kicking the ordinary khaki parka to the curb. The "jean" jacket was not denim at all, but a butter-soft calfskin, while a slightly menacing "donkey jacket" had bonded leather in the back. "The donkey jacket," Thomas explained, "used to be worn by garbage men—the leather was to protect their coat when they slung the garbage bags around their shoulders." A Prince of Wales checked suit had skewed patterns, adding interest to an otherwise classic pattern. Shorter pant lengths, meanwhile, were evocative of the Thatcher-era skinheads. The collection's standout piece was a wool bomber jacket with the subtle buffalo check.