Thursday, 16 June 2011

Interview - Joe Schindler (Joe & Co)

Joe Schindler is a man with some serious pedigree behind him. Having worked in the industry in one form or another for nearly thirty years, Joe has overseen and owned projects such as Schindler's Menswear in Stockport which was, until its recent closure, Stockport's finest clothing shop, stocking some of the best labels out there.

In this interview we discuss Joe's latest project – Joe & Co – as he offers us his expert insight into the great (yet sometimes confusing) world of premium Japanese denim.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What other projects have you worked on or with prior to Joe & Co?I have worked within the clothing industry in various roles since 1980. I was both the owner and creative director of Josef Jeans until 1998 and until recently I owned Schindler's Menswear in Stockport.

When did you begin to take an interest in denim?My interest in the world of denim began to take hold around the late eighties, specifically when I launched Josef Jeans in 1987.

Where did the idea for Joe & Co come from?The idea for Joe & Co basically came from the huge passion which I have for denim. It was probably when working on the Josef Jeans collection in the early nineties as there was not really anybody doing niche denim in UK at the high level which I wanted to do that the idea became a serious one.

What's the philosophy that underpins Joe & Co?
The philosophy of the Joe & Co brand is to understand the fundamentals of the denim that we use and also how the garments and components are made. We strive for the perfect fit which is really the holy grail when it comes to a pair of jeans. "Good things come to those who wait..."

Does Joe & Co denim come in a range of styles and fits?Joe & Co denim will come in four fits and styles. While these will vary from time to time, this will never be to a great extent. I guess this is because we believe that too much change can effect the ethos of the brand.

What brands have inspired the Joe & Co garments?
I wouldn't go as far to say that there are specific brands that inspire me. My inspiration comes from all over the place - and all walks of life. However, if you were to pinpoint me on that, then I would have to say that labels such as Sugarcane, Waste Twice, Anachronorm are those closest to offering real inspiration.

The Japanese have always had a big interest in selvedge denim. Do you feel it's starting to catch on more over here?
The Japanese are the masters of selvedge denim. The term 'selvedge' is used too loosely in the commercial side of the industry with too many brands using this term within their collections in order to gain notoriety yet still mass produce their product to a level whereby brands like ourselves, Sugarcane and many more will gain more credability within our market share.

There are also brands using the term 'Japanese denim' yet their products are washed in other countries like Turkey, Tunisia and so forth. Joe & Co denim is from Japan, made in Japan, and if I ever decide to wash the garments, then they will be washed in Japan.

Selvedge denim always seems to be something that confuses people or they can't quite get their heads around it. Can you explain what it is and what it's benefits are?
Selvedge denim is the result of how the fabric is finished. It keeps the fabric from fraying and is made on shorter looms which around 27-29 inches wide. These can take upto 3mts of fabric useage where other denim for the masses is made on wider looms at 58-65 inches wide.

I've always been baffled by certain people's unwillingness to spend a decent amount on a pair of jeans when they are more than happy to spend serious money on a coat or pair of old trainers. Is this something which irritates you? Why do you think it is like this?
For me, denims are as or even more important than what shoes or jacket you are wearing. However, it does not irritate me as such, simply because people's perceptions are different. The UK is a very fickle market and most people just do not understand the benefits of Japanese selvedge denim as it's too expensive for them to justify to themselves.

If you purchase a pair of Joe & Co jeans what care needs to be taken with them?I'm a firm believer that all Japanese denim should be bought in its raw state and only washed inside out once every three to six months. Of course this all depends on how many times they have been worn. This will give the wearer his own unique and individual look that no company or chemical wash will be able to replicate.

Wash inside out using cold water, no detergent (or very little if you must) and leave to drip dry.

Is there anything that differentiates Joe & Co from your standard selvedge denim?
The differences between Joe & Co denim and other selvedge brands can vary quite a lot. I guess it all depends on what you want from the brand and how much your prepared to pay for that.

A lot of denim companies now make use of Japanese denim. Is this a serious indicator of superior quality or does it very much depend on where exactly in Japan the jeans are manufactured?
Joe & Co Denim is made in Ibara, Okayama - this is the home of Japanese denim. We use only the finest craftsmen and denim mills in the world today. The techniques that are used in the manufacturing process have stood the test of time; they have been passed down from generation to generation. These craftsmen are perfectionists, and this is why the price tag on the products is as it is.

I've noticed that Joe & Co do not only produce denim products. Can you tell us about these?
We will also be producing shirting and sweats. However, these will be in very limited edition runs, much like the denims are.

What are your future plans with Joe & Co?
While at the moment we are targeting the Japanese and American market with the Joe & Co brand, we will eventually bring it the the shores of the UK. This will hopefully happen soon.

Do you have any other projects lined up?
I have a couple of projects lined up, of which one will being launched in January 2011 for AW11. This is effectively a diluted version of Joe & Co for the UK & European markets and this will be a full collection.

With regards to the name of the brand, you will have to wait until November before we release any news. However, keep your eye on Facebook as there will be some snippets added or look on my Joe & Co Denim Facebook page.
We'd like to thank Joe for kindly providing us with this interview. If you are interested in the Joe & Co products then I would recommend visiting the official site, where their full range of products can be both viewed and purchased.

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