A Child of the Jago - London
photography Federica Fioravanti
16 July 2014
Jack Sheppard and Mack The Knife are just some of London's legendary characters you can embody while wearing the collections of A Child of the Jago—the anti-brand clothing line created by Joe Corré.
The independent boutique displays collections for both men and women, which regularly take inspiration from British culture. Corré creates not only an evocative universe—populated by legendary outsiders and Art Masters—but, first of all, a clothing line devoted to tailoring and researched for quality.
We spoke with Corré about what inspires him, and his take on past and present times.
Let's start from the name. What are your feelings towards the 1896 Victorian novel A Child of the Jago, written by Arthur Morrison?
I love the writing of Arthur Morrison. Both A Child of the Jago and his other book, Tales of Mean Streets. His ability to capture and communicate such a vivid picture of what life was like during that period comes very naturally.
When did you read it the first time?
I read it first about 15 years ago when a friend suggested it to me.
Did you have other names in mind when creating the line, in 2009?
I was just going to call the shop and line Terrorist in the beginning. That became a bit difficult when we were trying to open account with companies etc.
The subtext to your logo—Original Terrorist Clothing—sets a clear tone about your distance from concepts like "brand" and "fashion system." How would you define your philosophy and its origins?
I like the idea of calling the whole project Terrorist Clothing because I had just decided to finish my relationship with Agent Provocateur. That was because Agent Provocateur had been sold as a consequence of my divorce from Serena. The new owners were so corporate and I found it eventually impossible to work with them and watch what I had created turn to shit. So the idea of Terrorist was great because I could not imagine even bothering to register it as a trade mark let alone a corporate wanting to buy it. Terrorist is obviously an anti-brand.
On the left: A collection of iconic hats styles, going from the Bowler to the Wild Bill, the Fedora and the Baker Boy designs. On the right: The Laundry woman trench coat, coming from the spring/summer 2013 collection.
Above: The Any Old Iron print depicts Harry Champion, an English music hall composer, singer and Cockney comedian, whose onstage persona appealed chiefly to the working class communities of East London.
Traditional British shapes and fine tailoring are the trademarks of your line. Can you tell us more about your inspirations?
I am inspired by the historical London characters. Mostly the criminals like Mack The Knife (Mackie Messer) from the Beggers Opera or the character of Jack Sheppard. These were people who understood the importance of their image and the quality of their clothes.
Above: The Jack Sheppard print depicts the famous British criminal and evader of 18th century London.
On the left: The Bessie dress' print is taken from a 1746 map of London. The print focuses on some areas linked to the life events of legendary outlaw John Sheppard, places which are relevants as well for A Child of the Jago's identity—Clerkenwell, Spitalfieds, the edge of the City and Shoreditch, where the shop is located.
Can you tell us how some of your key designs were conceived?
I try to include historical references in the designs but not make them look like historical costumes. I also like a "Rude Boy" influence from Jamaica. I never try to be commercial although I want to sell my clothes and I always imagine them worn by a gang so that the designs have a similar language but embrace the possibility of individual style.
How do you go about researching for fabrics?
I like to find fabrics that have been left on the shelf and forgotten about like searching for treasure in amongst all the rubbish left behind from the fashion industry. I also like to use very traditional British fabrics. I find it easier to design with less choice.
Where do you have your clothes produced?
Most of our clothing is produced in the UK but sometimes I will make things where I find the possibility, for example, I was recently in Perú where I have a permaculture project and I found people to make me some very special hand made Panama hats.
Who do you envision as you typical client?
Our clients are very varied but we do get a large proportion of artists and performers who wear our clothes on stage. I think this is because we make small quantities of special things, and performers do not want to look like everyone else. Our customers also tend to be very self confident about their own style and do not need a stylist to tell them what to wear.
Above: William Hogarth's Gin Lane print—originally dated 1751—appears behind the counter, on the shop's backdrop. The same print is also featured on t-shirts, alongside the collection.
On the left: The Wild Bill hat, adorned by feathers.
Above: Caravaggio's Medusa is featured in the Cat Amongst the Pigeons spring/summer 2012 collection.
History seems to be one of your main sources of inspiration, how do feel about the present?
We live in a fascinating time—I am very interested in what young people think. They talk about something from five years ago as nostalgic where as for me nostalgia is 40 or 50 years ago. I realised that its because now ideas have such a very short life. This is why I look back in history because we are left with ideas that last longer and took longer to develop.
In 2008 you founded Humanade, a foundation supporting Human Rights charities and individuals. Which issues are you focusing on right now?
Humanade is currently working on: a) Leonard Peltier campaign for clemency. b) Support for Reprieve in getting people out of dark prisons like Guantanamo Bay. c) Sustainability projects in Perú and Honduras with the Inga Foundation and Kapitari Project. d) We support Redress which seeks to help victims of torture. e) Privacy International which highlights the issues exposed by Edward Snowden and, f) right now we are fighting hard on a campaign to stop Fracking in the UK, talkfracking.org
A Child of the Jago is located at 10 Great Eastern Street, London.