Origin: I was born in British Sri Lanka and grew independent with it.
Studies and occupation: I attended preparatory school in Sri Lanka and then studied business administration in Germany and Switzerland. After several years as a manager in the international hospitality sector, I founded my shirt company IGN.Joseph.
Why did you choose this profession? I left hostelry and catering to satisfy my passion for fine apparel and to appeal to the clientele I had served in the international hotel business.
How did you get there? By driving (and occasionally flying) thousands of miles.
According to you, what is a good shirt? Fine fabric, robust stitching and spirit: A good shirt must move like the skin of the person wearing it. It is not to be confused with body armour.
Tailor-made or “prêt-à-porter”? There are poor tailors and excellent manufacturers. If one does not have a very peculiar size or body form, bespoke is unnecessary. The advantage of bespoke clothing depends on the artisan as well as the materials (fabrics) at his or her disposal. Unfortunately the artisan sector is disappearing. This is still where the craft gets its impulses. The “innovations” in prêt-à-porter are mainly commercial, manufacturing and distribution processes as well as sourcing. However no one should aspire to be dressed like a balance sheet.
Tie or not? There are many occasions when a tie is obligatory and then the issue is moot. Neckwear was once a practical and not merely ornamental part of dress. On weekends I do not wear a tie. But when I wear one it has to be good. A serious element of style is what I call “effortless elegance”. Weekdays the London Underground is full of young men travelling to work with noose-like silken or polyester cords around their necks. Ties are not for hanging.
Is the tie knot important to you? It is important that neckwear be tied properly so as not to damage the fabric. The knot itself ought to fit the collar of the shirt being worn.
What is your favorite outfit? Of course I like my own choice of suiting my tailor has made and admire some of the great classic lines.
And the one you dislike the most? Although I realise it is de rigeur for many in the traditional professions, I have never been keen on pinstripes. However, I absolutely abhor “battlefield casual”, the prevalent fashion among many who have never held a weapon or fired a shot in anger. Boys can be excused for playing GI Joe but such tastelessness in grown men is only secondary to the unfortunate realities that give rise to this fashion in the first place.
Trouser’s cuffs (how many cm) or not? Of course cuffs, but not up to the calf or knee. There has been a truly horrid craze for variations of battlefield dress among those who have stretched the definition of acceptable “business casual” beyond recognition. There is no reason to be dogmatic about this detail. Proper trouser length is more important, down to the bottom of the heel cap and slightly creased at about the third pair of lacing holes.
What is your favorite color? I think if one discounts my red shoes, I am very traditional—different shades of blue appeal to me.
Which color do you never wear? Gaudy colours.
What kind of shoes do you like? The classic forms, Derby, Oxford, Brogues, welted and made of high quality leather by professional artisans.
Black or brown? I cannot speak for others but this question makes no sense to me—I only wear red.
Socks: high or low? Stockings, that is to say hosiery that covers the calf, not only makes a better appearance for the entire leg, it offers warmth and support make walking less tiring. Many men make the mistake of confusing scantiness with leisure attire. Clothing has functions that are often ignored by people in their search for gratuitous novelty.
What this means to you style? Even the minimally decorative Bauhaus school applies to good clothing—style follows function.
What is your « style’s icon »? Do I need one?
Watch: mechanical or quartz? I am not into esoterica. Every once in a while I have to wind my watch.
What is your perfume? A sharp spice with a softening whiff of citrus.
How long do you take to get ready in the morning? Everything one has practiced well can be done more quickly than by someone who has no routine. When I have to travel, it is possible to by stylish swiftly. At the weekends, I leave my wristwatch on the bedstand.
Do you fold up your pants before you go to bed? I take proper care of my attire so that it can be worn the next day, esp. when travelling—what more is there to say.
What is the car or motorbike of your dreams? I drive thousands of kilometers annually and so I am rather keen on fast cars. Probably if I had nothing else to transport I would go for a Mercedes 300 SL, with all the trimmings so to speak. Ferrari makes a fine car but it is really too much work. Mercedes-Benz has always made fine, fast cars that are a bit more reliable and durable with less maintenance. I am a motorist but not a mechanic…
Are you more football or rugby? My first passion is cricket. Of course on the continent it is played very little, so I do follow a bit of football.
Where was your last getaway? I took some time to relax in Northern Italy returning from the Pitti Uomo.
What is the perfect menu according to you? Of course as a child of Southern Asia I come from a part of the world with incredibly rich culinary traditions. However, Italy is my second home and in Europe, my first when it comes to food.
Wine: Bordeaux or Burgundy (Chianti, Nero d’Avola?)? In Sri Lanka where I was born, we have the best teas in the world. The liquor of an exquisite Ceylon blend is quite sufficient.
Design: Contemporary or Louis XV? The fewer clichés the better.
Women: Blonde or brunette? I certainly hope that brains and charm are evenly distributed without regard to hair colour.
To what are you faithful? My craft and aesthetic sensibility—which also means self-respect and respect for the humanity of others.
What do you prefer in a woman? Discretion is a quality to be observed by persons of both genders.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner? I don’t dream when I dine. It is a shame to waste good food.
Which movie is, according to you, a cult film? In a limited sense I can say there are films which are exemplary for gentlemen’s style in a particular era. Noticeably there are no such films for past decades. The “cult” films all reminisce about the style of the past—people like to call it “retro” these days. Of course there are films that have been given “cult” status—mainly extremely violent films—that makes me wonder what people really mean when they say “cult”?
Which book lies on your nightstand? Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.
What kind of music do you have on your IPod? You know, I grew up when there was only one radio device in the whole house. We heard everything together in the living room. When I drive I concentrate on the road. Of course I listen to the news. It is important for me to be aware of what happens in our world and the topics that move my clients.
What would you change about yourself? Sometimes I think I would resign myself to the decline in good taste and stop talking about it. However, I just cannot bear indifference.
What is, according to you, the absolute luxury? Serenity and the confidence that money is the least important aspect of life, not only to say that but to actually feel and live that way.