Diaspora: Joe Casely-Hayford obituary

Pioneering fashion designer who mixed traditional tailoring with looks from the London street

Joe Casely-Hayford in his studio in Shoreditch, east London, in 1997. Photograph: Richard Baker/Alamy

Like all great tailors, Joe Casely-Hayford was an outsider who observed how men define their personal identities and pledge group allegiances; the personal is the political and there is nothing more personal than the four metres of cloth in the average male outfit. He liked to cite his great-grandfather Joseph Casely-Hayford’s 1911 book, Ethiopia Unbound, because it was about “duality and double-consciousness”. Casely-Hayford’s grandfather “wore Kente cloth to study at Cambridge and Savile Row to visit family in Ghana”.

Casely-Hayford, who has died aged 62 after suffering from cancer, applied that inheritance of black insight – “you’re aware of both yourself and how you’re viewed by the majority at all times” – to everybody, through clothes, mediating between tradition and street cred, formal three-piece and sportswear.


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