The History of IGN. JOSEPH
In 1997, the label, IGN Joseph, was created in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the years prior, Mr. Joseph had been anything but excited by the standard colors and craftsmanship of men’s shirts on the market. Since he worked as a hotel manager who traveled quite a bit, he found a custom shirtmaker in Bangkok where he hoped he could find the kind of quality in a shirt he liked. Unfortunately, the shirtmaker did not really understand that Mr. Joseph wanted a sewn shirt collar, and so he kept returning the shirt until one day the shirtmaker told him, ”Mr. Joseph, you are a kind man, but please leave now and do never come back!”
After Mr. Joseph had this experience, he decided to launch his own men’s shirt line. His vision was to not only create a
traditionally made shirt of the highest quality, but also to provide vivid colors. By targeting the younger male consumer who wanted to look different than their fathers and grandfathers, yet not sacrifice quality, he decided to create a shirt with Italian as well as British style elements.
Italy, Switzerland and Back to Italy.
Initially, Mr.Jospeh decided to have his shirts made in Italy, and in his first year, he was able to sell 148 shirts. While he grew the business substantially in the following years, he repeatedly faced issues with
regard to reliability and quality control. When he met the swiss shirt manufacturer, Herbert Brülisauer, he moved his production to Mendrisio in Switzerland. There, the Bruli company even modified old machines in order to provide Mr. Joseph with the kind of quality he liked. However, over the years Mr. Joseph realized that he preferred Italian style over Swiss accuracy, and so he once again moved the production back to Italy – this time to Castellamonte, an area close to Turin in northern Italy.
The IGN. Joseph Shirt
Mr. Joseph always wanted to produce luxury shirts using the best cotton fabrics, craftsmanship and details.
The IGN. Joseph Shirt Fabrics
IGN. Joseph shirts are only made of high quality 2 ply cottons (warp and weft) in solids, checks, stripes and, oftentimes, strong and unusual colors. Most of the fabrics I have seen have a twill structure, plain weave, oxford weave or combinations thereof. The fabrics have a very soft hand and sometimes almost feel like silk. Many of his shirt fabrics are exclusively woven for IGN Joseph by renowned Swiss and Italian mills. Mr. Joseph provided me with a shirt in a pale purple, (solid colored) that has a very fine herringbone twill and after a few washes, the fabric still looks perfect.
My oldest IGN Joseph shirt is now 8 years old, and while it is absolutely normal that cuffs and collar points show some wear at the edges, the fabric is still in great shape. Altogether, the fabrics of IGN Joseph shirts are definitely among the best fabrics you will find in a ready-to-wear shirt.
The Workmanship of IGN. Joseph Shirts
Single Needle Stitching
All IGN Joseph shirts have single needle stitching instead of double needle stitching, which is the standard for most ready-to-wear shirts. While it is more expensive to use a single needle, the seams look better in the long term and will not wrinkle as much the double needle seams.
The stitches are all done by machine, very densely (about 7 stiches per cm or 18 stitches per inch) and very neatly. Also, even after 8 years, not a single stitch has come undone on my old IGN shirts, and the new one seems just as solid.
The area where the side seam and the hems meet is reinforced with a triangular gusset embroidered with “IGN. JOSEPH”.
The Unfused Collar
The signature feature of Ignatious Joseph is the sewn collar. In the near future, I will write a separate post about the characteristics of a sewn or unfused collar vs. a fused collar. However, it must be mentioned that sewn collars are more difficult and more expensive to produce and usually last longer than fused ones, providing a softer, less crisp look.
Interestingly, my old IGN. Joseph shirts – both of which are striped – did not have matched patterns on the sleeves or on the shoulders. However, my new solid shirts with a subtle herringbone pattern are matched everywhere. I suspect the reason for this to be different manufacturing facilities. While the old ones were made in Switzerland, the new ones are made in Italy. Other than that, there seem to be a number of subtle differences between the shirts: the latest IGN. Joseph shirt has a split yoke, which simplifies the pattern matching on the shoulder, while the old ones did not. Also, the inside of the collar and the compartments for the removable collar stays are sewn very differently, though both are of very high quality.
Moreover, the area between the back and the yoke are different. While both do not have any large pleats, the old ones had what the Italians call camica a grinze. This means that the fabric is not sewn in straight, but rather with many little folds, which creates a unique rippled look along the yoke. The new IGN Joseph shirt, on the other hand, is just sewn in flat without any pleats.
Buttons & Buttonholes
In addition, the buttonholes as well as the buttons are very different.
The old shirt had very fine and very accurately stitched buttonholes that did not show any kind of fraying and were one of the best machine made buttonholes I have seen on ready-to-wear shirts. The troca’s buttons were thick, flat on top, sewn on with a cross stitch and had a little shank.
On the other hand, the new shirt’s buttonholes have a lower stitch density and are simply not as neat. The buttons are still thick, but slightly rounded on top, and now made of plastic. They are sewn on in a caltrop shape and do not have a shank anymore. This results into a concentric wrinkle around the button when the shirt is buttoned – a look that I do not like at all.
On the old shirts, not a single button, nor a little piece of thread has come off in 8 years, while the new shirts already show two buttons with loose thread after just a few months.
I was rather surprised by all this since Mr. Joseph himself expressed in a shirt guide (published in the German magazine Stern) that one of his 25 shirts rules was that a button must have a shank and must not get loose after just a couple twists and turns.
The Design & Cut of IGN. Joseph Shirts
IGN Joseph Shirts come in 3 different cuts: normal, slim and taped line. All of them have long or extra long sleeves, which I quite like because usually ready-to-wear shirts have rather short sleeves. I received a size 39cm (about 15.25”) slim shirt that measures 112cm (44”) in the chest, 102cm (41.25”) in the waist, and 68cm (26.75”) from the shoulder seam to the end of the cuff. Compared to this, the taped line is 2-3 inches slimmer with a slightly shorter sleeve.
The collar is cut in a pleasing spread, the armhole / armscye is very high and just the way I like it. Typical ready-to-wear shirts come with rather large armholes and sleeves; this is not so with IGN. Joseph shirts. The shirt is of average length, and features a classic rounded hem. It is cut slimmer than most regular RTW shirts without being overly tight.
The French cuffs of the new shirt are rounded, and the buttonholes are located in the center of the cuff. I prefer this to the square cuffs on the old shirts where the buttonhole was further back.
Made to Measure & Prices
While his RTW shirts range from 190€ to 240€ depending on the fabric, IGN: Joseph also offers a made-to-measure service that starts at 250€. In the US, prices start at $350 for RTW shirts.
IGN Joseph Presentation
The shirt presentation is absolutely top of the line. All IGN Joseph shirts are neatly wrapped in the signature yellow IGN Joseph box. It comes with two silk knot cuff links, as well as two pairs of plastic collar stays. At the bottom front placket, there are two extra buttons in case a button ever gets lost.
Overall, I think IGN. Joseph produces a very high quality ready-to-wear shirt. His shirts are made in Europe in facilities with a long heritage of high-quality garment manufacturing, unlike most of his counterparts who produce in Asia. Considering that he provides top notch fabrics, an unfused sewn collar, a high armhole and a rather slim cut, you receive a decent value for your money. The shirt would be even better if the buttonholes were improved and the buttons were made of mother of pearl and sewn on with a shank. Having worn IGN. Joseph Shirts for 8 years, I can vouch for the quality as well as the durability and would certainly buy the shirts again.
If you want to find out which dealer in your area carries IGN. Joseph shirts, you should use the retail locator on his website, which is updated on a regular basis.
Tel: +49 211 -49 85 001
Fax: +49 211 – 49 85 053