Nick Graham has always had a soft spot for Joe Boxer, the underwear brand that put him on the map more than three decades ago. And now, he’s back.
Iconix Brand Group Inc., which purchased the Joe Boxer brand in 2005, has hired Graham as a creative consultant to spearhead a premium collection under the Joe Boxer name that will be targeted to specialty and department stores. The Joe Boxer brand is sold primarily at Sears.
This is the second major move that Iconix’s chief executive officer Bob Galvin has masterminded for the company’s brands in the past few weeks. Zoo York, another of its labels, is bringing back its trio of founders to create a special Founders collection for the skateboarding brand this fall.
“I’ve known, followed and admired Nick for a long time,” Galvin said. “He’s a true marketing and creative visionary and he’s providing us with valuable insight that will help us bring Joe Boxer to a new generation. Look at what we’ve done with Zoo York. There’s so much love between these brands and their founders. Nick has so much passion for what Joe Boxer stands for so that’s why we wanted to bring him back.”
Graham founded Joe Boxer out of his San Francisco apartment around 1980 and it grew to become an internationally known label defined by its quirkiness and irreverent sense of style and humor.
“It’s so great to be back working with Joe Boxer. It is still one of the best-known brands out there, and it will be so fun to play with it again,” said Graham.
Graham said Galvin approached him about six months ago and they started talking about the possibility of returning to the brand. “That brand is such as a part of me.” He said he recently came across some boxes of Joe Boxer archival materials that he’ll use as a starting point for the new line. “We did some totally crazy stuff,” he said. “But so much of what we were doing is still very contemporary and the brand awareness is still so strong.”
Graham, whose title was chief underpants officer of Joe Boxer, was a leader in what now being called experiential marketing. The brand was among the first on the Internet in 1992, it hosted the first live-streamed fashion show with Microsoft from an airplane hangar in Iceland and installed the world’s largest e-mail in New York City’s Times Square. The brand still holds the record for the highest point a pair of underwear has been alone — 120,000 feet, by a single-thrust rocket — and the unofficial record for the World’s Fastest Fashion Show, 1.2 seconds by a human cannonball.
Graham sold the Joe Boxer brand in 2001 but remained as a partner. Iconix acquired the brand in 2005 at which point he exited. In 2014, Graham launched his eponymous men’s brand, which he will continue to design and market.
“It’s full speed ahead,” he said. “The Nick Graham line is men’s tailored clothing and dress shirts with some sportswear. It’s got a more sophisticated positioning so it’s a different market. Joe Boxer will be underwear- and accessories-driven, and athletic.”
Although the Nick Graham line, which is a division of Tharanco, also includes underwear, he said the Joe Boxer line he’ll be creating will have “a distinct look. Color will be a big part of it.”
Galvin said the new Joe Boxer line will be “all about fun for the family.” In addition to underwear, he said it will be expanded into loungewear, footwear and home. “The great designs Nick has for Joe Boxer will play great in the home space,” he said.
Graham may also have some involvement with the line sold at Sears, Galvin said, but his primary focus will be on the premium label.
Galvin said the plan is to launch with some small capsule collections this year with a full rollout planned for 2020. Pricing has not been set, but it will be “elevated above its current channel,” he said.
“I have a lot of ideas,” Graham said.