“That happens a lot,” Joshua Kane explains, as a family of Chinese tourists crowd the window of his Old Spitalfields Market boutique, smiling and pointing through the glass at the multitasking bespoke tailor, who irons panels of polkadot silk while we speak. The attention is understandable: aside from the window-as-workshop display, Kane cuts an intriguing figure. Tall and slim, with long hair and a waxed, curled moustache, his blue eyes are kohl-rimmed behind natty spectacles and he is wearing – what else? – an impeccably tailored suit.
A former senior menswear designer at Paul Smith, Kane also worked under Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum before opening his flagship boutique, Blood, Sweat & Shears, this summer. He plays down the challenges of setting up shop, explaining that his 10 years’ experience with bespoke clients and a successful e-store trading internationally had already created a solid business. The opportunity to open the boutique apparently came by “complete chance.” A bespoke client knew the landlord, a meeting was set up and Kane took it on the spot. “We did a whole shop-fit in 10 days. I pulled in every favour and we had the most glamourous shop-fit team ever: designers, models, all my friends. Everything is completely bespoke designed, from the plinths to the mannequins!”
Kane has created the brand as a direct extension of his personal style. Of the elaborate tattoos covering his arms, he points out one in particular, of three men in coats and top hats looking out to sea; the image also hangs as a large print on the shop wall. “The whole brand really started from this image, which I found in the New York library when I was living there straight out of college,” he explains, “They were three amazingly gentrified tailors of Beau Brummel’s period, known for being the best – and best dressed – tailors of the time. But they were also known for being real naughty boys, always seen with the most beautiful women, at the most elaborate parties, really celebrating the best of life.”
With his impeccable wardrobe, 24-hour work ethic and orbiting solar system of glamourous friends – like studio manager and burlesque performer Katrina Darling, who often accompanies Kane at fashion parties, is he trying to recreate the lifestyle of the three tailors? “Absolutely! Success is being able to continue to design what I love and being lucky enough to have people appreciate it.” From his loyal and often famous clients, to passing tourists, it seems Kane has achieved as much. So what’s next? “Ultra-high-end versions of the jewellery collection, in solid rose gold with champagne diamonds!” And in the future? “More boutiques – one in New York. A hat collection; more umbrellas; luggage; handmade shoes.” To visit Kane’s boutique is to step into a bygone world of luxury and charm, but this modern gentleman has both (well-heeled) feet firmly grounded in the now, new and next.
Originally appeared in Phoenix magazine, Autumn 2014: Gods & Monsters issue