Building Joseph

Louise Trotter is turning the British luxury label into an all-encompassing brand with menswear and bags

The first item that Louise Trotter bought from British luxury label Joseph was a pair of black bootcut pants when she was in her early 20s.

Today, she is responsible for churning out such wardrobe staples for the brand she now helms as creative director.

On her first Joseph purchase, the 40-something designer says: "It felt like a rite of passage. Joseph Ettedgui had a huge influence on my aesthetic and the brand's DNA is very much a part of my own."

The British label founded by Casablanca-born hairdresser Joseph Ettedgui is known for its basic, luxurious essentials in clean designs, such as silk shirts, slip dresses and tailored pants.

The first Joseph boutique in Singapore opened last year at Capitol Piazza. The 350 sq m store carries the complete range of women's and men's ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as a selection of shoes from brands including Isabel Marant, Jil Sander and Chloe.

Joseph was founded as a multibrand boutique in 1972 by Ettedgui, carrying brands such as Prada, Kenzo and Yohji Yamamoto. The brand's eponymous label was launched in 1984.

Prior to taking on her current post in 2009, Trotter was creative director for CK Women's Jeans at Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Britain-based label Jigsaw.

The fashion design graduate from Newcastle University, England, says of her previous work experience: "I think I developed a good balance between the creative and commercial."

She explains: "We have our loyal clientele, who build their seasonal wardrobe from our basics. We also have our new customers, who buy from us as a confident, directional fashion brand, wanting pieces that have that essential quality we are known for, but filtered through a more contemporary lens."

What Joseph is especially known for is subtly incorporating masculine and feminine elements into its pieces.

For example, the ready-to-wear and pre-Spring and Summer 2016 collections feature clothes such as a jersey T-shirt made in satin with detailing on the hem and cuff; trousers with a looser masculine cut with feminine detailing; and a sweatshirt with a knot detail at the waist cut to "achieve the perfect balance of proportions", says Trotter.

Among the recent changes she has made to the brand - she introduced its first womenswear runway collection (which debuted at London Fashion Week in 2014); launched Joseph's debut menswear collection last year; and is expanding the label's accessories collection to include a bag range that is stylish, functional and lightweight as "there is nothing more annoying than picking up an empty bag that already feels heavy".

Referring to these changes, she feels that it is "a natural progression for Joseph to cement itself as an all-encompassing brand, adhering to its roots as a lifestyle brand".

On the three Joseph essentials that every woman should own, she names a suit in a masculine cut, a classic white shirt and a cashmere V-neck sweater.

As she says: "Joseph built his brand on creating a wardrobe of perfect essentials and I do not think the need for those essentials will disappear."

• The Joseph boutique is at 01-19 Capitol Piazza, 13 Stamford Road, tel: 6384-5811, open daily from 10am - 10pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'Building Joseph'. Print Edition | Subscribe