The classic American brand Joseph Abboud is back in the men’s fashion conversation these days, and credit for that goes to designer Bernardo Rojo, who took over as the label’s creative director when Abboud left the company in 2005. To celebrate our latest Abboud sale on Gilt, we connected with the Madrid-born designer to talk movies, inspiration and designing for “an international man who happens to be an American.”
You’ve really modernized the Abboud line. How challenging has it been to do that while retaining the brand’s classic, sophisticated design DNA?
It is always difficult to modernize a brand while maintaining and evolving your current customer base. It took a while — at times it was more challenging, but in the end it paid off. I was able to attract a new consumer while the current one embraced the changes.
I’ve read that you’re a huge movie buff. Do you take any sartorial inspiration from the movies you watch?
When I was a kid, I used to spend weekends watching old Hollywood movies. The impeccably dressed male characters always inspired me. To me, that was when American men’s fashion was at its peak of elegance. Then it was forgotten. Of course, now we dress according to the modern way we are living, but great style is something that will never disappear.
Who do you think was the best-dressed man at the Oscars last Sunday? I was partial to Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz.
I happen to totally agree with you. I loved the navy blue tuxedos.
You were born in Madrid, Spain. Do you find how you were brought up affects your approach to style and self-expression? Being Cuban myself, how I grew up tends to affect how I express myself on multiple levels. My mom was a stickler when it came to how I dressed.
Definitely. How you are brought up and your experiences determine how you see style. My mother never left the house without being dressed up — she always wore heels and had full make-up on. Every time my father went out with my mother, he always wore a jacket and tie, even if they only went out to a movie. There was always a sense of pride in dressing up at home.
Growing up in Spain, developing your design experience in London — how does your European background affect how you approach the classic American style Joseph Abboud is known for?
I design primarily for an international man who happens to be an American. He seeks functionality, comfort, and individuality (something very intrinsic to American style). Having grown up in Europe has given me the ability to bridge both continents and styles.
Where do you intend to take the brand over next few years?
I am trying to take it one day at a time. With success comes responsibility — I want to continue evolving the brand towards the status it deserves, cementing the legacy of Joseph Abboud as one of the great American men’s fashion labels.