Leeds-based fashion brand Joe Browns celebrates 25 years with an AW23 knitwear photo-shoot at Scarborough and Cayton Bay
Joe Browns has always been a brand that prefers to step outside the rails and do fashion its own way. So when its founder, Simon Brown, decided to challenge the Leeds-based team to create something truly different, the Project Fun knitwear collectione was born.
The brief was to come up with a collection that was “empowering, radiant and seriously striking,” says Carrie Wilson, womenswear buyer at Joe Browns, the multi-channel fashion and home retailer that has its headquarters in Holbeck in Leeds. “Our intention was to create a range that allowed customers' personality to triumph over the dullest of days. A knitwear revolution if you like.”
Inspired by retro prints and playful colour, the team got to work. Carrie says: “The outcome was a capsule range that was truly special, and something we were all very proud of, and so we’re back with round two – offering something different in a sea of classic winter knits and the inevitable novelty jumpers.”
Ever a brand for offering oodles of options, alongside launching Project Fun, the Joe Browns team developed another knitwear collection, this time inspired by the island of Ibiza. “The Balearic Dusk collection is full of hues which embody the rich palette of the Ibizan landscape, each with a touch of metallic to make them feel that little bit more special,” says Carrie.
“It’s a luxuriously soft collection in fluffy yarns that are brought to life with bold colours and Lurex trims. Our customers have a zest for life and a passion for interesting product that doesn’t wane just because the days are shorter and colder, so these two knitwear ranges provide a fabulous alternative to the more muted, darker tones that tend to dominate many winter wardrobes.”
It was the job of Richard Olsen, head of Creative at Joe Browns, to come up with two different but equally atmospheric concepts for fashion shoots to showcase the collections.
I live near Scarborough, and having two boys means that I’m very familiar with all the attractions and distractions of the area,” he says.
For the Project fun collection, he chose The Scarborough Fair Collection and Vintage Transport Museum, which is at the Flower of May Holiday Park, on the coast road between Scarborough and Filey. It houses an impressive working collection of vintage fairground rides, as well as vintage cars, steam engines and mechanical organs including a ‘Mighty’ Wurlitzer organ in the ballroom.
“I discovered it by chance, really – one of those days where the family needs entertaining,” Rich says. “I’d heard about it through a friend and decided to give it a visit. It definitely delivered and I made a promise to myself to shoot there, when the scenario presented itself.
“As soon as I saw the Project Fun knitwear collection, I knew it would be the perfect location,” he says. “We work closely with the design team, so I knew the collection was made for expressing your fun side, enjoying good times and feeling free – what better place for all of that than a fairground?”
So they hired the space for the collection’s photoshoot, which took place last month. “One thing you can never predict, no matter where you shoot, is the weather. The huge bonus of shooting at The Scarborough Fair Collection is that it’s all inside. I can’t tell you the weight that’s lifted when you know you don’t have any elements to battle against – wet and windswept was not part of the plan.
“We also shot the Balearic Dusk collection at Cayton Bay that same day. Luckily the weather was on our side and an incredible sea haze perfectly captured that all-important atmospheric backdrop.
Kevin Peschke was the photographer. “We’ve worked with Kev for several seasons now,” Rich says. “He totally gets the Joe Browns brand and embodies everything we’re about – spontaneity and, above all else, good times.”
The model was Isabelle Stickland. “We first met Isabelle while filming our first ever TV Ad, which you can watch here. Her fun personality and zest for life stood out on the day and we were excited to work with her again, especially with such a vibrant collection – it’s like it was made for her.”
See Joe Browns AW23 and Christmas women, men and home collections here.
Joe Browns is celebrating its 25th birthday this month, as well as its strongest year to date, with sales and profit up 20.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively. Simon Brown founded the company in 1998 with the aim of offering interesting, intriguing and inspiring clothes (these are the three I’s that underpin every Joe Browns design) after noticing and wanting to bottle the spirit of a bunch of carefree young surfer folk he saw on holiday in Wales.
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Now the brand sells its womenswear, menswear and homewares through its own website as well as through other online retail platforms including Next, Simply Be and Very, and through its catalogues, which are still an important presence. It has standalone stores in Meadowhall, York Designer Outlet and in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Around 170 people work at the Holbeck site, where all the ideas, planning, designing, marketing strategy, admin, digital operations, warehousing and much more take place.
Joe Browns always strives to create unusual, striking clothes that are timeless and adaptable. The new knitwear collections are no exception, says Carrie. “By this I mean they’re easily styled for various occasions,” she says. “Both the Project Fun and Balearic Dusk knitwear can easily pair with casual, everyday items such as jeans and a pair of pumps, yet look incredible dressed up – I’m already styling mine with the Perfect PU Trousers for pub dates, the Sassy Sequin Trousers for drinks with the girls and the Satin Skirt for date nights. The best styling tip I can give anyone is to wear whatever makes you feel confident and that will shine through.”