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A menswear designer, design consultant, and showroom owner, Joseph grew up in Washington DC where his career in fashion started in 2004 at retailer, Up Against The Wall. In 2009, he began designing under Robert Geller which opened opportunities working with the likes of Tim Hamilton, Siki Im, Deveaux New York, Barneys New York, and Earnest Sewn, as well as ghost designing for celebrities. He co-founded GHSTS with his partner in 2015, and was Design Director for SSENSE Brands & Collaborations before launching his own menswear brand, JKEEFER; now working on its sixth collection.

In 2023, Joseph was selected as a CFDA Interim Member.

Contributor: Adam Katz Sinding

Tell us about the genesis of JKEEFER - the "why"

I was struggling with depression during the Covid days. My girlfriend at the time was instrumental in pushing me to do something for myself and have a creative outlet. When I launched the project, I decided that if I’m putting my name on it, I have to do everything I can to do it right. I reached out to my network and connected with great factories in Italy and started working on it. I knew I needed to get these ideas out there.

The collection is like a wardrobe, a uniform for me, consisting of pieces I felt were missing or could be better than what I was finding. I created JKEEFER because I believe I can craft beautiful, wearable clothing that communicates in a unique voice.


Having worked with other designers and now your brand, what has been the biggest challenge in venturing on your own?

The challenges have grown for sure; it's a much more crowded field, and the media outlets have shrunk down, making it harder to be seen.

I think the industry has given more and more influence to those consuming the product than to those creating the product.


That's a very interesting perspective. How have you sought to overcome that? 

I think the way you overcome it is by being authentic. I’ve attempted to overcome it by leaning more into myself and who I am, and how that is reflected in the collection.

At first, JKEEFER was more about creating really beautiful pieces in beautiful fabrics and [it] lacked an edge that is important when creating an energy around a collection. I kind of looked past my punk/hardcore/skater background to make something aspirational.

In the last two years, I’ve leaned into who I am and the subcultures that have defined my life to create a collection that feels more authentic to myself and what I want it to communicate. The results are positive, and the community is growing because of that.

On the topic of building your community, what aspect of scaling has been the most demanding? 

Everything. No, but seriously I’d have to say capital. It's an incredibly expensive and challenging business model to create a small fashion label. 


That said, can one stay small? 

I think one can stay small. You need to find an effective business strategy and financial standing to do so.

I’d like to grow my business to a place where we have a flagship shop, at least in New York.  Maybe one or two other cities and in key retailers globally - doing manageable but decent annual sales number that affords me the ability to continue to enjoy the work while also improving my life.

Any place that sparks your creativity or a particular spot you love?

New York is a huge part of my life and story.  It’s been less inspiring as of late, though it still plays a huge role in inspiring me. I’ve been to Rome within the last two years and found it to be an incredibly inspiring place with a unique energy. 

In terms of my favorite spot, I’ll always love Saint Vitus in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's a great independent music venue and bar. I've seen tons of shows there, and the staff is all awesome. Contra, my childhood friend Jeremiah Scott’s restaurant, is also definitely one of my favorites in the city. His food is incredibly inspiring, and he created a warm and enjoyable room.


Emerging or upcoming designers you're keeping an eye on?

I’d say Brian Jimenez is doing something really interesting. John from Acne told me about him when he was still working in the New York office.  I think what he's doing with his work is exciting. 

Connect with Joseph



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