Josef Schindler is a full-blooded purveyor of workwear fashion and each one of his premium garments reflects his obsession with quality and his very northern roots.
In fact, the values of his brand Joe and Co are perfectly summed up in the MANCMAK™️ – the quality and beauty of the fabric, the functionality of the high collar, just the right amount of quirkiness in the yellow seams of the lining and the extreme attention to detail in the buttons. And, it’s all crafted in the North of England under Joe’s eagle eye.
Before he deemed it ready for pre-order as part of his latest Kickstarter campaign, Joe personally put it through some rigorous testing on an ordinary day in Manchester.
Joe said: “It’s pretty obvious why we called it the MANCMAK™️ – there was no better place to test it. It was chucking it down on the day I wore it, we got soaked, but my clothes underneath it were bone dry.
“And that’s down to the fabric, which is fabulous – beautiful. So much effort has gone into making this a truly, high quality mac, so when it stood up to the ultimate test – a day out in our rainy city – that was great!”
A Truly Manc Mac
“I’ve always loved macs and always wanted to make one and I’m just thrilled we were able to do it with yarns spun here, in what was once Cottonopolis. It was also woven and manufactured near Manchester – it truly is a ‘Manc’ mac.”
The only part of the MANCMAK™️ not made in the North West are the buttons, which are made by the UK’s only button-makers, Courtney and Co, based in the Cotswolds.
The mac is part of a small collection available through the Kickstarter. If enough people pledge to buy the garments in the next four weeks, manufacturing will begin.
Customers who pay a 35% discounted price of £310 to secure a MANCMAK™️ will get theirs in October, just in time for a typically rainy autumn.
A Very Modern Way of Shopping
This might not sound appealing to the impatient fast-fashionados and fast-fashionistas, but Joe says pledging on Kickstarters is a ‘very modern way of shopping’.
And, it epitomises his way of doing business. Not for him a strategically lit boutique and worryingly full clothes rails of stock funded by investors and bank loans.
Instead, Joe can be found peddling his premium wares on his stall at the trendy Altrincham market. Granted, it’s hardly Cheshire’s answer to Albert Square, but it’s a hub of independent, high-end retailers who are thriving, away from the pressures and miseries of Britain’s high street.
He said: “We don’t have the cash for big manufacturing runs to make large numbers of clothes. And that’s not what we’re about anyway – we make clothes for the few, not the many.
“Kickstarter campaigns work perfectly for us and our customers – it means we can fund the manufacturing and make what we sell.
“We top-up the fund ourselves to increase the manufacturing run, which allows us to make a few extras to sell at full price.”
Behind the price tag
Joe openly admits his clothes are expensive, but says the price tags are determined by the cost of the highest-quality manufacturing and special design details, not shadowy investors or terrifying business rates.
He said: “I’ve been there and done that. I’ve worked in fashion for decades, seen the money roll in and then roll straight back out again. With Joe and Co, I am doing things differently.
“My clothes are more expensive because I pay for the best manufacturing, I don’t cut corners to make the clothes cheaper and increase profit margins.”
“We use quality manufacturers who will work with small brands. We don’t take out loans or seek investment to buy massive amounts of stock and bring down the costs per unit – we don’t need to do that and why should we?
“That’s how small businesses run into problems and the quality of your product gets diluted.”
Joe’s ship is so tightly run, all his products are somewhat limited edition, meaning you won’t ever be lucky enough to bag a Joe and Co bargain in a sale. The only time you can secure a discount is by pledging in a Kickstarter campaign, which he now runs every year.
Modern manufacturing, old fashioned values
Joe says although Kickstarter is a modern way of shopping and manufacturing, it’s also an adaptation of old-fashioned values – not borrowing or spending money you don’t have, making to order and quality over quantity.
He said: “It’s all come full circle – we’re here, back at the market not in a shiny shopping centre. It’s full of small independent brands who are passionate about home- grown, locally made products.
“The cotton industry has been revived and manufacturing in Britain is important again. In some ways, it’s starting to feel like it used to.” So, if that’s the case, how do we stop the circle looping continuously and once again, losing swathes of British industry?
Joe’s answer: “Everybody has to try not to get too greedy. Manufacturers need to continue to work with small brands and resist the temptation to increase their prices; brands need to carry on making quality products locally and not look to do it cheaper abroad and consumers need to continue to support local businesses – often their friends and neighbours.
”Who knows how long we can keep it like that, but we can enjoy it while it lasts.”