My background in denim started in the 1980's whilst working in the cream of Menswear stores in Manchester; I saw a gap in the denim market for reasonably priced product, which led me to the creation of my first brand ‘Josef Jeans’ . The brand become a household name in the 90's.
Fast forward twenty years - I registered Joe & Co Denim as a Trademark in 2008 following the frustration of trying to find superior end quality denim at a price that reflects the garment, whilst at the Berlin fair, Bread & Butter.
My first denim for the brand consisted of thirty pieces in one fit, as a test run through the store I had at the time..... although it was more expensive than other brands stocked in the store, the quality & uniqueness was far superior - and it sold out within a couple of weeks. The garment was produced using Raw Selvedge 13.5oz Zimbabwe long staple Cotton, created in Japan and woven at the Nihon Menpu Mill.
My ethos behind the brand is to produce high end, timeless Raw Selvedge Denim & Apparel in small batches from the best denim producing mills out of Japan, the UK and Italy, with the focus on British Manufacturing.
Highs & Lows...
2007 / 2008 delivered the financial crash and it became a rather difficult period to say the least, therefore we had no choice but to close the shop in 2010. Joe & Co was shelved for a couple of years and I resurfaced the brand in 2012, exhibiting at Jacket Required; it was a long hard road and even harder to crack the buyers at the higher end of the spectrum. So we produced a price point denim for the middle end of the market This became a bit of a nightmare, as no matter how much positive marketing and publicity we received, the industry was flat and retailers were struggling to pay their bills - for example, a smaller multiple we supplied decided to discount the brand in all their stores within the same month that they launched it. The independents were dropping like flies, then the big boys stepped in and started a massive discount culture, buying up brands and stores. They then started producing product at a lesser quality and discounting massively - a similar culture to what we see today.
So once again I made the decision to take time out until the denim sold out in those stores.
When I started again I aimed the brand at the highest level seen in the denim industry; I produced everything in the the NW of England and sold it online, building a reputation for probably what is the best denim brand in the UK.
I don’t do seasons, I design and develop timeless product that reflects my mood at the time.... I'm not influenced by trend or fashion. Joe & Co Denim isn't a fashion brand; it’s a brand that stands the test of time, that can be worn in five, ten, twenty years time and still be on trend.
Manufacturing with Social Conscience...
All my fabrics are sourced in either Japan, Italy and the UK and garments are produced in selected factories in the NW of England (wherever possible). Just because a brand is made in the UK, it doesn't necessarily mean the brand is any good - there are a lot of factories out there who are terrible and you have to use your experience and judgment to select the right partnership.... fortunately for me, having that experience goes a long, long way.
The beauty of producing in the UK - though not the cheapest, you're only an hour or so from the furthest factory should anything goes wrong (and believe me it does, no matter how good the factory is).
The disadvantages of producing in the UK; most want to nail your hat on for producing small batches and some will not even entertain you. Or some may not have the the right machinery to produce what you require.
The buttons for our shirts and over shirts are made in England from the Corozo - a nut originating from the rain forest in Ecuador and equatorial America and more recently Codelite (R) comprised of 96% dairy milk in its finished state and reintroduced in the UK for the first time in 50 years
Every garment that makes up the range is ethically sourced & sustainable. Workers are paid relatively good wages, above the minimum wage.
Sourcing suppliers is relativity easy if you know what you're looking for (and being in the industry for over thirty years helps). it’s not about the money; it’s about producing the best product at a price that reflects the garments and once you achieve that, the nothing can stop you from realising your goals. It may take a little longer, but it’s more satisfying and rewarding.
The next step for Joe & Co is to exhibit at what I believe is the best international trade fair in Berlin (Selvedge Run) in January 2019. The show is invite only, showcasing the creme de la creme of brands from Japan, the USA and Europe - brands who are at the top of the their game. It's not a massive show, but a show that has outstanding brands aimed at the premium end of the market.
Tips For Start Up Brands...
Know your target audience
Know your factories / workshops
Costings are imperative... ie: fabric cost, rating per garment (in all sizes) as this will effect the cost of materials
Lead times.... make sure your lead times are correct and make two to three week allowances for production either side
Consider fabric delivery timescales + availability
Be true to yourself
Don’t give up
Crack on and DO IT!
Even though I’m not a follower of fashion, I do get excited about product and the fabrics that make them... I'm like a kid in a sweet shop, so to speak.
About Our Author: Josef Schindler is a true denim aficionado with expertise that spans more than thirty years. His brand “Joe & Co" are garment engineers of Raw Selvedge Denim & British Workwear from MANCHESTER, NW of ENGLAND the first industrialised city in the world, the epicentre of cotton textile & manufacturing at the time of the Industrial Revolution.... COTTONOPOLIS
Hand crafted in the old mill towns & villages of NW England, Joe works with the best UK, Japanese & Italian mills on the planet to produce limited edition pieces in small batches demanding the highest level of workmanship, creating superbly engineered timeless garments that are made to last.
'Made for the few, not for the many’
You can discover more about Joe & Co Denim HERE