The skinheads and mods that informed Mark Thomas' debut last season as Joseph
's first menswear designer gave way to Bruce Davidson's Brooklyn Gang
for Spring. Injecting youth culture into a brand that is well past adolescence—both in actual age and ideology—is a risky strategy that requires a deft touch. Fortunately, Thomas seems to understand where "boy" ends and "man" begins. The presentation unfolded in Joseph's compact Brook Street store: In the front, seven models stood on squat white plinths; in back, there was a film shot in Brooklyn by Raf Stahelin. In both formats, the pairing of leather and knits—whether as T-shirt and knit city shorts or the inverse—stood out for its textural contrast. If the knit shorts sound like a tough sell for guys, they could reasonably make the leap to womenswear. Thomas took one pants pattern—relaxed fit, double pleat—and showed it in two fabrics to compare and contrast how the rayon silk collapses for maximum slouch and a stiff cotton keeps its volume. It's the same reason he settled on dropped shoulders and kimono sleeves almost exclusively—because an immersion into Joseph culture has quickly taught the former Givenchy and Neil Barrett designer that silhouette matters more than surface detail.
Color, meanwhile, was elemental to the collection's youthfulness; the peachy orange was inspired by the coral linings of vintage bomber jackets. The Harrington jacket and high-neck baseball jersey (surely one of the season's surprise trends) were subtle nods back, too—each time interpreted without nostalgia. Finally, Thomas' suiting proposal—a military shirt and generous trousers framed with an unstructured jacket—acknowledged that classic tailoring is not the only option for men (of any age) today. Cross-generational appeal is an underrated achievement.