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Joe Holsgrove: These 5 Things

Interview + Photography by Luke Alland, using Leica's Q2 Reporter.

"In lockdown, and prior to this as well, I spent time practising cutting as much as possible, trying to further myself in my career as best I could and make the most of the free time that we had. So for me, it's just a reminder of that time and it's helped me out even to this day. It's massively accelerated where I am and what I'm doing."

London-born bespoke tailor Joe Holsgrove has been working in the industry for over ten years and, to this day, retains a fierce desire to uphold his craft. With a keen eye for detail and a tenacity for seeking out ways in which to make the best garments he possibly can, he has recently founded his own tailoring house which channels the timeless 'West End' silhouette. We sat down with him to talk about his 5 things...


Thing 1: Pink Check Suit

Luke Alland: We start off with your suit, what's the story behind that?

Joe Holsgrove: "The actual cloth itself I saw years ago in St. George Street when I first started as a tailor. I was looking through all the vintage bunches, and it always stuck out because it's quite bright. It's a completely functioning Tweed, but at the same time, you're not really always going to wear it. I always loved it and the reason I've chosen to have it as one of my five things is because the whole thing was made in lockdown. I cut it out on the dining room table. Luckily, I've got the capability to actually make this make this stuff indoors.

"The under collar I did as a self-under collar, which—at the time—I'd only done a couple but really, I had bags of time so I thought, why not? I've managed to match the checks coming up off the centre back, straight through into my under collar to make the points. It's only afterwards looking back on it, and being in lockdown, you can see it's got a little house and in a way that kind of reminds me of using that time to be as productive as I could.

"In lockdown, and prior to this as well, I spent time practising cutting as much as possible, trying to further myself in my career as best I could and make the most of the free time that we had. So for me, it's just a reminder of that time and it's helped me out even to this day. It's massively accelerated where I am and what I'm doing."

LA: And isn't there a story with the tie pin as well?

JH: "Yeah, I mean, I picked it up after my 22nd birthday and I absolutely loved it. I think especially with this suit, the colour of it goes so well with the shirt and the checks—it's delicate enough that it doesn't overbear it."


Thing 2: Volkswagen '100,000 Kilometre Club' Watch

LA: This one is one of the most in-depth and longer stories that we've had within 'These 5 Things', and whilst it's not clothes per se, it ties into both cars and watches. Where did it all start?

JH: "Since childhood I've had a real fondness for old Volkswagens—the split-screen Campervan and the Beetle—they're just so iconic. They're still on kids lunchboxes now! As time went on, I became more and more interested and then the thought becomes 'maybe I can get one as my first car'. So I did, and then ended up collecting more and more paraphernalia, is the only way of putting it. My favourite of all of this though, is the Volkswagen 100,000 kilometre club watch.

"In a nutshell, if you reached 100,000 kilometres with your Beetle, you could send off for a commemorative watch, a lady's brooch or a plaque for your car. Slowly, I collected bits. Being a tailor, the first thought was to have pieces that I can wear with other other garments—hence the tie-pin and the watch. They're in keeping with that. I adore the other things though, the books and all the artwork, I just really enjoyed the typography and the history of it.

"It's all hand illustration and from such an iconic era. You're not immediately post-War but coming out the other side of the '50s and into the '60s, you see a lot of this artwork, it's so vibrant and exciting that they're trying to sell you not just the vehicle, but everything that you can do with it.

"The watch is not particularly expensive by any means but, there aren't that many of them about. The face is dark which I really like in a dress watch. It's understated. Nobody would ever know that it had a Volkswagen rosette on the back. I enjoy the fact that nobody knows but I do. When you have the car and the other bits, you end up within a community of friends with similar vehicles that you go to festivals with or simply away for the weekend. It all just joins together."


Thing 3: Grandfather's Pocket Watch

LA: Your third piece is definitely a family-centred piece, and it's stunning.

JH: "Well... I will always know it as granddad George's pocket watch, even though he's given it to me, relatively recently, actually. His dad had given it to him and he always had memories of his dad winding it up and wearing it. However for me, all of the memories I have obviously are of him, rather than his father.

"The first time I actually wore it was for my cousin's wedding not too long ago. I had a new suit made by Dino, who taught me everything I knew and he ultimately came out of retirement to make that suit for me. My granddad's not been in the best of health recently and wanted me to have the watch. To see it being enjoyed by whom he wanted to leave it to. So obviously, it has massive sentimental value anyway, but to be able to wear that in front of him and without him knowing that I was going to, was really special."

"He kept it wound for at least the past 50 years, every single day, and has kept it in great condition. On the other end is an amethyst stone which is set in a gold clasp, and in the middle is a Victorian half sovereign. When I was an apprentice, I bought myself a cheap pocket watch and my grandad gave me the stone to use on the other end of that, but I never actually used it because the stone is from a charm bracelet that my nan owned, and it wouldn't have been worthy of it. Fast-forward all of these years, he ends up giving me this and now I can have a piece of him and her with me whenever I wear it on very special occasions."


Thing 4: Ralph Lauren Vintage Shirt

LA: The shirt is an interesting one as it's less of a statement piece than the others?

JH: "The shirt was a present from my brother. He found it a vintage shop and I think it was £1.50? Forgetting the monetary value, that adds to it in the sense, you don't have to spend that much money, as long as it works for you in a certain way. The fit of it, the colour, particularly with the material. I'm very lucky that some of my dearest friends are shirtmakers and I've got a lot of shirts which have been made for me. But there's something about this one just because of how relaxed it is and everything with it. Particularly being vintage, you can see in the cotton where it's got a slightly brushed finish. The more it gets worn, it just gets softer and softer.

"I dress it up, in the sense that I can wear it out with a jean and a loafer. It's perfectly suited if you're abroad to just chuck on with shorts and a sandal for example. A 'beach day wear' for want of a better phrase, because of that sort of coral/orange colour. It's great at the height of summer because of how it lends itself to the weather, and you can also wear it in winter with some chunky knitwear and it still provides that freshness."


Thing 5: Sidcup Rugby Ranger Cap

LA: I'm not a huge rugby fan so you'll have to fill in the gaps with this one...

JH: "The team I play for, Sidcup, you're only allowed to bear this cap if you've completed a tour. I suppose it's such a sense of belonging. It's not just the cap itself, but what it represents. Some of my dearest friends are from the Rugby Club and epitomises the sense of togetherness. It's an escape, the social element and then you've got the sport itself.

"You wear them when you're going to and from tour. You have to wear them at the airport, essentially you go in your "tour number ones" so you've got a certain outfit you're travelling in, which is a nice thing."

LA: I know a lot of the pieces that you have and a lot of pieces that people pick out are very intertwined with their family. Would you want your kid to pick this out as one of their five things that you've left to them or your grandchild for example?

JH: "If they went off and did rugby, in that case, yeah, fair enough. To people who actually know what it is, it means the world. To people that don't necessarily know what it is, they appreciate it but wouldn't really understand it."

LA: Thank you very much! Just quickly, what's your favourite vintage shop?

JH: "I'm going to have to say Snoopers Paradise in Brighton. It's in the Lanes and they've got everything from clothing, to furniture, records, everything basically. It's an indoor marketplace with all these little stallholders, but I've found things in there that have turned out to be much more valuable than I imagined. Also I've found tools in there for work, as well as some fantastic garments. It's all relatively inexpensive which I think is quite charming about vintage, it doesn't have to be outrageously priced or branded for any reason, it can just work."


Full look Breakdown:

Look 1

Bespoke Suit - Joe Holsgrove

Bespoke Shirt - Tom Bradbury

Custom Navy Moire Silk Braces - Albert Thurston

Silk Knit Tie - Vintage

Handmade Tie Pin - Greg Dennis Jeweller

Socks - Pantherella

Shoes - Loake Bros.

Look 2

Bespoke Shirt - Tom Bradbury

Watch - VW

Vintage Jeans - Brand Unknown

Shoes - Converse

Look 3

Bespoke Suit - Joe Holsgrove

Bespoke Dress Slips - Deema Abi-Chahine

Bespoke Shirt - Tom Bradbury

Tie - H.N. White of London

Handmade Tie Pin - Greg Dennis Jeweller

Socks - Pantherella

Shoes - Dominic Casey

Look 4

Shirt - Vintage Ralph Lauren

Jeans - Levi’s

Socks - Pantherella

Shoes - Edward Green

Look 5

Bespoke Blazer + Trouser - Joe Holsgrove

Bespoke Shirt - Tom Bradbury

Tie - Sidcup Rugby Club

Handmade Tie Pin - Greg Dennis Jeweller

Socks - Pantherella


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