Once synonymous with the Madchester music scene, today Joe Bloggs is more likely to be seen in the malls of Dubai.
During the opening scene of the film 24 Hour Party People, the actor playing Sean Ryder, lead singer of the Happy Mondays, is seen bouncing around the band’s tour bus wearing a T-shirt with Joe Bloggs emblazoned across the chest.
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Joe Bloggs brand was synonymous with the “Madchester” days of baggy trousers and baggy music, as performed by bands such as The Happy Mondays, and the burgeoning club scene that went with it.
But these days, although denim – some of it baggy – is still part of the brand’s offer, boys’ streetwear including stripy and graphic print T-shirts, slogan sweaters and accessories make up the core of Joe Bloggs’ offer.
Fashion entrepreneur Shami Ahmed launched the Joe Bloggs brand aged just 24.
His younger brother, Kashif, has since followed in his footsteps, taking over as managing director of the empire, based in Manchester’s Bury Road, in 1999. Soon after he founded Juice Corporation to run the business’s branded operation.
As well as Joe Bloggs, today Juice Corporation owns brands such as streetwear label Juice, men’s young fashion label Loyalty & Faith, menswear brand Gabicci and designer womenswear label Elizabeth Emanuel, as well as the worldwide clothing licence for Katharine Hamnett and the UK licence for Head sportswear.
In the late 1980s, Joe Bloggs was -manufacturing a new collection every four weeks in the UK and was a pioneer of branded fast-fashion. The label had around 200 independent accounts at its peak.
However, the UK wholesale base has slimmed over recent years and instead of focusing on the UK, Kashif is looking towards bigger markets. “International standalone stores are the future,” he says.
This is why 15 years on from the sweaty dance floor of Manchester’s Hacienda nightclub, a new Joe Bloggs store is about to open in the massive Dubai Mall in Dubai.
The brand expects to have 50 franchise stores within 18 months across emerging markets such as India and South Africa, and is confident of securing a mix of 150 standalone and franchise stores over a five-year period.
At present, Joe Bloggs’ store roll out is focused on the Middle East, where it opened its first shop in August 2006, in Dubai. As of December 2007, there were 10 Joe Bloggs stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.
Boyswear is the brand’s key category, and by focusing on the Middle East Kashif says he is capitalising on the fact that “50% of the population there is under 19 years old”.
This year franchise stores will open in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa and India. Next up is Russia, south-east Asia and China.
You may not see many ravers throwing shapes in a Joe Bloggs top these days, but the pace of the brand’s retail growth really is head-spinning.
Joe Bloggs 0161 832 4951
£75m: The turnover of Juice Corporation, which owns Joe Bloggs
150: Number of staff working at Juice Corporation
£8: Wholesale entry price for a pair of Joe Bloggs jeans