Today renowned for his flamboyantly dandyish attire (most notably, those ever-present red shoes), it wasn’t so very long ago that Ignatious Joseph was forced to rein in his sartorial expression. During the first chapter of his career, working at fine hotels across Europe, Ignatious was bound to wear the dour uniform of the hospitality professional: grey suit, white shirt, black shoes, black socks, day in, day out. “I could not stand it,” he sighs.
The impetus to launch his own menswear firm came from a desire to escape this drudgery — and partially, as the result of a messy mishap while on a business trip in the Middle East. “I found myself one day in my room,” Ignatious explains, “and through an unfortunate accident, my last clean shirt was stained beyond hope. Since I needed to appear at my work later that day, I went in search of a new shirt. But I did not find anything like what I was used to wearing. Well, naturally, I had to make a compromise then. But I decided at that point, per the old adage, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So I left the hospitality business to start making shirts the way I believe they ought to be made.”
Establishing Ign. Joseph in the German city of Düsseldorf in 1997, Ignatious says: “When I designed my first shirt I made a decision only to use sewn collars. Most shirts have fused or pasted collars. The sewn collar is difficult to make and can only be done by hand. However, it is the most flexible and natural form. Once one has worn a shirt with a sewn collar, everything else feels like having your neck in iron.” Supple, flexible collars and cuffs are the keys to a comfortable, high-quality shirt, Ignatious argues. “You know, when the shirt was still considered an undergarment — until the end of the first third of the 20th century — collars and cuffs were separate from the main body of the shirt. And the places that count most for everyday wear are still the collars and cuffs. These are the parts that take the most wear and tear.”