How I Wear It: The East London DJ And Musician

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How I Wear It: The East London DJ And Musician

Words by Mr Justin Quirk | Photography by Mr Ivan Ruberto | Styling by Mr Josh Caffé

12 August 2021

Mr Josh Caffé is in ebullient mood when we speak via Zoom from his London home. England’s nightclubs have just reopened and for Caffé, a recording artist, vocalist, producer and DJ, a major part of his life had been closed off for more than a year. On the grand reopening night, he was behind the decks at the Adonis LGBTQ+ party at The Cause, a tiny, illicit-feeling space on an industrial estate in Tottenham, north London, soaked in red light and host to some of London’s most exciting parties in recent years.

“I’m still buzzing from that whole day,” says Caffé. “I played the first set and I was so nervous about doing it. At first I was like, ‘Do I do a warm-up set?’ But I just had to go straight into it. So I started at 130bpm and as soon as I pressed ‘Play’, everyone was screaming. There were people scaling the cage around the DJ booth, shaking it, all the pent-up energy was released from everyone. It was just really happy.”

Even though the party took place on the hottest week of the year, Caffé didn’t let his sartorial standards slip. “I did a look because that’s just me being extra,” he says. “A nice 1970s denim shirt with cut-off denim shorts, which, to be honest, was an absolute mistake because it was boiling. By the end, I just had to take the shirt off, so I was topless.”

Caffé was born in London and spent part of his childhood in Uganda. He spent his early career immersed in luxury retail and his dress sense was shaped by his musical tastes, clubbing habits and well-dressed siblings. He talks of a teenage trip to visit an aunt in New York. He returned in a Timberlands-and-dungarees homage to 1990s new jack swing legends Jodeci. His sister customised jackets in the style of TLC and he became a “label-obsessed” garage and jungle fan. “It was very much about Moschino, Reebok Classics,” he says. “I was obsessed with Karl Kani, Cross Colours, big logo-print shirts. I would spend all my money in Bond Street on one T-shirt.”

Caffé’s style now is harder to categorise, but it has made him a memorable, easily recognisable figure in Europe’s clubs. “I wear a lot of vintage stuff, and then occasionally I’ll treat myself to a nice designer piece,” he says. “But it’ll be something like an archive Gaultier top or an old Margiela piece, and then I’ll wear it with nice vintage denim, stuff like that.”

Tall, rail thin and with a shock of bleached hair, his deep house, acid and techno sets draw crowds from intimate London spots such as The Cause and the eclectic LGBT Dalston Superstore to festivals including Lovebox and Glastonbury. He’s issued a series of acclaimed recordings both under his own name and as part of Paranoid London. He’s also part of the Love Child parties at Fabric and, in recognition of his growing profile, he’s just been announced as one of the superclub’s new residents.

All of which makes this as good a time as any for a wardrobe refresh. “When I make music, the visual element is always the first thing I’ll think about,” says Caffé. “I’ll have the concept and artwork and all this kind of thing in my head straightaway because I’m a very visual person. I’ll definitely have a story behind the look that I’m going to wear on stage.”

“I love animal print and prints in general. This is just a very bold, in-your-face top, a silk-cotton mix, super soft. It looks cool with a nice pair of jeans. It keeps it simple. It’s quite oversized as well. It has a very 1990s fit to it. Normally, I wear a lot of fitted shirts and tees that fit my frame better. If you're going to go for an oversized one, rather than go up a size – where it’s going to look like it’s swamping you – it’s better to go for a cut that’s oversized and then get the size that’s for you because it will fit on the shoulders. I love jewellery. I’m a big fan of ghetto gold and loads of jewellery on the hands – very Tupac-esque. More is more! I’ll usually have three chains on and I’ve always wanted to just wear a pearl necklace. It’s a bit ridiculous, but it’s different. It’s fun to play with.”

“That jacket is satin, but quite heavy. It has a 1950s bowling jacket fit to it, which I really like. Similarly with The Real McCoy’s one. I love collecting old bomber jackets like that. I like the fit on them and the embroidery is beautiful. It’s that Japanese craftsmanship, which is nice. Just put your own stamp on it. Don’t go for an obvious complete look. I don’t really match things. The little leather hat there is from the 1970s and it’s something that I’d wear anyway. I like to wear a jacket like that with a nice stonewash denim jean, rather than that typical Americana look. The bandana’s a nod to how I dressed back in the day, the R&B look. For a long time, I would never have worn that again, but it was just something I thought, ‘Let me revisit that.’”

“The trousers are from LOEWE. They are basically a play on a skater grunge kid’s trousers, where they’re just really big. You put them on and they are really wide, but the fabric is so soft. I pretty much live in a pair of white Converse or a pair of slip-on Vans. The 1970s kind of Nike ones, that’s probably the wackiest I’ll go. When I was younger, I wore Reebok Classics and Reebok Pumps, Air Jordans. I was a trainer freak. But now I feel like something like this is timeless. It goes with so many things. I’d wear them with a nice suit or some tracksuit bottoms. The hoodie’s got embroidered illustrations on there, which I thought were quite cute.”

“I like visvim. It’s everydaywear done well. The T-shirts always have really nice detailing on them and this shirt reminded me of a really old 1950s box shirt. It’s light and it’s got a drop shoulder on it. And they do great shoes as well. The Elder Statesman does really quality knitwear. This piece is so soft, they’re spot-on in how they make them. I’ve experimented more with colour later in life. Early on, I spent a lot of time just wearing black denim, black shirts and black skinny jeans, and maybe navy blue. That was very much the style back then. And then after a while you’re just like, ‘Fucking hell, man, it’s nice to experiment with colour really.’ It was a confidence thing. For most people, it’s the other way around. As they get older, they tend to move away from experimenting. But because I like to experiment with what I wear, there’s always a fun element to how I dress. So colour is very important.”

“I don’t really understand why double denim is considered a bold statement. If it’s done in a nice way, it’s quite a cool, effortless look, you know? I would wear that as an everyday look. Flares can have a fancy-dress vibe, so you have to be very careful. If you go too wide, it just looks ridiculous, like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. You have to have a certain frame to pull them off as well. It’s definitely not a look for everyone. I tend to buy vintage denim more, just because of the fit. Especially the 1970s fits, they suit my frame well, and I like the way they’re cut. The feel of the denim is really nice on these – visvim has really good craftsmanship on its stuff. Just the quality of the denim that you can feel, you can’t beat that.”