From football (soccer for us on this side of the pond) to fashion, Joshua Kane has done it all.
The British designer will show off his latest collection in Atlanta on April 19, marking the first time Kane has debuted a collection in the United States. The show will take place at Atlanta’s inaugural Atlanta Fashion Gives event, which is presented by the magazine Simply Buckhead and meant to benefit the fight against childhood cancer. Tickets for the show are available online.
“Joshua Kane is going to create a watershed fashion moment for our city at the Atlanta Fashion Gives event,” said event sponsor Joanne Hayes, publisher of Simply Buckhead Magazine, in a press release about the event. “We are thrilled to bring his cutting-edge designs and impeccable tailoring to the Atlanta style scene.”
Over the past several years, Kane has designed bespoke, tailored suits for A-List stars like Tom Holland, Jason Momoa, and even Rod Stewart. According to the press release, his Atlanta show will take on the theme of British rebels, but in a conversation with Reporter Newspapers, he opened up a bit more about what residents can expect from this show, his sports career, and his love of Spider-Man.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I want to start with some basics. Where did you grow up?
Joshua Kane: I was born in Oxfordshire, and I grew up in Oxfordshire. I went to school there, I went to art school there – my parents actually still live there. Then I moved to London to go to fashion school.
That was at Kingston University, correct?
JK: Yeah. Kingston University is where I studied fashion.
Were you interested in fashion from a young age?
JK: Probably no, is the best answer to that – not from a young age. I was very interested in sports. I was always interested in art, but it wasn’t really fashion that I discovered that I loved until I was about 15 or 16 years old, or maybe a bit older.
What was the incident that made you discover that?
JK: I had this sort of obsession with costume from very young, but I didn’t realize it. The first thing I ever learned to draw was Spider-Man, as any young boy is obsessed with superheroes, and my mom taught me to draw. All I would do is just say over and over again how I wanted to draw Spider-Man, and I was just obsessed with drawing his outfit and coloring it – the neon, the details, make it exactly like how I wanted it to look. And looking back, the writing was right there in front of me, that designing outfits for people is what I was going to end up doing. But back then I just … was obsessed with costume and dressing up and creating characters.
I read in an interview that you played football before you got into fashion, is that correct?
JK: I did. Yeah, at a very high level in the UK. I mean I’ve always loved being competitive. Like, I’m a very competitive person. And I think football – or soccer as you call it – really harnessed my competitive nature, and taught me how to work hard for things as well, if that makes sense.
What happened that made you turn away from that?
JK: I was living in Oxford, traveling to London to train and play football three times a week. It was just really unrealistic. I was studying to go to art school at the same time, and I just couldn’t do everything. I couldn’t do everything that I wanted to do all at the same time, and things were sort of beginning to slip. Something had to give, right? I just couldn’t do it all. Then we got to an end of a season, and I graduated, and I was applying to Kingston University, and I just stopped, you know? Enough was enough. I loved art school so much. That’s where my passion was, and meeting people more in that world, I think was just much more where I found myself happier. I found myself sort of resenting playing football more and more, and I think that was just sort of the answer – it told me what I needed to do and where I needed to be more.
You’ve worked at places like Brooks Brothers and Burberry. How would you say those experiences shaped your style and how you work now?
JK: I think they all shaped me differently. I took a little bit from everywhere I worked after graduating. I think going to Brooks Brothers straight out of school, I had no idea how the fashion industry worked. I could sew and I could draw pretty pictures, but I had no idea about business, costs, and all those things. I was pretty sure I could just design all day every day … Going into Brooks Brothers just gave me such great insight into the business and the economics … having to sell. That’s not something you really learned when I was at fashion school. The way they teach the course now is a bit more direct with things like that, but definitely when I was there, that wasn’t even a consideration.
And then places like Burberry, where I designed the runway collection … that was just an absolute money-making mammoth machine. We would do something one day on the runway, and then a week later, every single brand on the sun would be having their version of it. That was so amazing to see the power that brand had.
Each place I’ve worked has helped me take away something that I didn’t have before.
Are there any designers you’ve worked with or you admire that inspire or have influenced you?
JK: I don’t really get inspired by other fashion designers, but definitely photographers and other types of artists influence me a great deal, and a lot of my friends – actors and musicians as well. I take a huge amount of influence, but just [from] other creative people in my friendship group, and just kind of seeing what they’re doing, hearing them talk about their work and how passionate they are. A photographer friend of mine exhibiting their work and finding new, creative ways to produce their style, I think that’s always really, really interesting to me.
A close friend of mine who works in the jewelry industry, the conversations I’ve had with him about how he makes things or vintage things that he’s finding, I find so inspiring, because I’m always thinking about jewelry within my collections. Although we kind of only do jewelry made to order, it’s not a massive part of the collection, it’s something I love and I find really inspiring.
There have been a few big names who have worn your designs recently – Tom Holland, Jason Momoa. Is there a particular person you’ve really enjoyed working with or you think has worn the suits particularly well?
JK: Honestly, I’ve been so, so fortunate. I’ve worked with, in the last eight years, some of the biggest names in the world, which just really blows my mind how that happened. Sometimes I kind of forget that that happened, and I’m so busy working on the next project that I never really get time to think about it.
I’ve been so lucky working with so many cool people, but I think – back to the first thing I said – if childhood me was to be told that I would end up designing a suit that Spider-Man would wear, I think I would probably have to pinch myself. Yeah, childhood me would think that was cool.
This is the first time you’ve debuted a collection in the United States. Why did you choose Atlanta?
JK: This is not a question I can answer easily, because there’s not one answer, there’s about three. About three years ago, I started designing and developing a video game project. That is something that has been getting a huge amount of my time and attention and care, and that is a whole other entity in itself. By complete coincidence, the team developing my video game is based in Atlanta [Fathom 7]. So mix that with the fact that maybe six years ago, Joanne [Hayes of Simply Buckhead] walked into my old store as a customer and really loved my designs. We had a great conversation, and she said one day I would love to bring you out to Atlanta because I think that your designs are just something that we can’t get there. She said you have all the high ends brands … but she hadn’t seen something like what I bring. I was like, oh cool, Atlanta – that sounds fun, never been there.
We were going to do something, like a little project where we would work together, and then COVID-19 hit and then there was the big stop of any events, of course. And then all through the times, myself and her … just said if we ever get an opportunity, now I have obviously like a company happening there, it would be amazing to do a big runway production in Atlanta. Then I visited late last year as free press for this project, and I just really fell in love with it.
I love America anyway, but most of my time is normally spent in L.A. or New York. With the connection with Joanne knowing so many people there to help inroad, and to create the right network of people to come and witness the show, and the fact that the charity is involved, and we’re raising money for CURE Childhood Cancer, which is obviously an incredible charity.
The show that I’ve wanted to do for the past three years is a mixture of very, very, very high tech audio visual with high end couture fashion. With my test team on the ground in Atlanta for my video game, every person is in that city except me, so it makes sense for me to go to them.
How did you become interested in creating a video game?
JK: It was actually the first ever thing that I did. When I was nine years old, I started making video games in my bedroom – drawing Spider-Man by day, making video games at night – I mean you couldn’t write it.
I’ve always loved video games, because it’s fantasy. It’s just world building. You can just go into that screen and just disappear into another universe for as long as you choose to play for, and I think that’s always what I want my clothes to do. I want you to feel, when you wear one of my suits, one of my designs, like an otherworldly experience. Like you’re becoming someone else, like a person in a costume. And I think that’s the beauty of dressing up – it’s just kind of pretending to be a different version of yourself or someone else completely, and I think that’s really magical and really fun. That kind of harnesses the excitement of why I love clothes and building outfits.
The video game as a premise gives me unlimited freedom to storytelling. The only limitation is how good your programming and developer is, essentially. I’ve written a whole video game story, it’s actually like a whole movie’s worth of storyline. And we’re creating the characters to kind of tell a playable story, if that makes sense.
Is there anything you can reveal about your upcoming show here? You’ve mentioned the high tech nature of the audio and visuals, and I know you’ve worked in film a bit. How will those two intersect with fashion?
JK: If I was to give you one teasing line about it, it’s a mixture of audio, visual, digital, high-end British couture men’s and women’s wear, mixed together in a way that has never been mixed together before for performance.