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The rise and fall of an iconic Manchester streetwear brand

If you're of a certain age and from Manchester, you'd definitely have owned some items of clothing from this unique brand
Joe Bloggs

In the annals of fashion history, few brands evoke the spirit of a cultural movement quite like Joe Bloggs.

Synonymous with the ‘Madchester’ music scene of the late 1980s and ’90s, Joe Bloggs emerged as a leader of urban streetwear, capturing the imagination of youth culture with its bold designs and relaxed aesthetic.

Joe Bloggs

Founded in 1986 by young entrepreneur Shami Ahmed, Joe Bloggs experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, riding the wave of Manchester’s cultural resurgence.

He amazingly, was only 24 when he started the brand. And it flew, because Shami saw a crucial gap in the fashion market.

While designer jeans were often synonymous with exclusivity and high prices, Shami believed that everyone deserved access to quality fashion at reasonable prices.

There was a niche in the market for the everyday jeans wearer: ‘any old Joe Bloggs’, and his vision was to democratise designer jeans, making glamour accessible to all.

What was Joe Bloggs all about?

Their signature baggy jeans and emblazoned T-shirts became must-have items, embraced not only by local musicians but also by sports stars like boxer Prince Naseem Hamed, cricket legend Brian Lara, boy band Take That and illusionist Uri Geller.

The Happy Mondays rocked the brand, New Order was seen wearing it. It was the IT brand of its day.

At its core, Joe Bloggs embodied the spirit of the street, drawing inspiration from football terraces and alternative music trends.

Its creations, including the iconic 25-inch flares that epitomised the ‘Madchester era’, resonated with a generation seeking self-expression through fashion.

“Everyone snogs in Joe Bloggs”

They were also famous for their catchy marketing campaign in 1993, ‘Everyone Snogs in Joe Bloggs’,

How many sets of jeans are so important they get an entry in the V&A museum catalogue?  Check that out here

The brand gained local prominence when Tony Wilson, the visionary behind the Other Side of Midnight TV show, famously took Happy Mondays to be outfitted in Joe Bloggs attire, declaring the band and the brand “about as casual as you get.”

You can watch that video below:


At the peak of its popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Joe Bloggs clothing was in high demand.

In the late 1980s, they were -manufacturing a new collection every four weeks in the UK and were a pioneer of branded ‘fast-fashion’.

Joe Bloggs primarily specialised in casual streetwear clothing, catering to the urban youth culture of the late 1980s and 1990s.

Their clothing line featured a range of items designed to capture the edgy, relaxed aesthetic that was popular during that era, or ‘Baggy’.

What kind of clothes did they sell?

Baggy Jeans: One of Joe Bloggs’ signature items was its baggy denim jeans. These jeans were characterised by their loose fit, often featuring wide legs and a relaxed silhouette. Baggy jeans were a staple of the ‘Madchester’ fashion scene and became synonymous with Joe Blogg’s style.

T-Shirts: Emblazoned T-shirts were another hallmark of Joe Bloggs’ clothing line. These T-shirts often featured bold graphics, slogans, or logos, adding a distinctive and eye-catching element to the wearer’s outfit. The designs reflected the vibrant and expressive nature of youth culture during that time.

Flares: During the resurgence of flares in the 1990s, they capitalised on this trend by offering their take on the classic denim flare pants. These flares were often wide-legged and paired well with the brand’s baggy aesthetic, contributing to the overall relaxed and fashionable look.

Jackets: Joe Bloggs also produced a variety of jackets, including denim jackets and other casual outerwear options.

Where were they based?

Joe Bloggs Factory
Joe Bloggs’ factory on Bury New Road

Joe Bloggs was run out of a unit on Bury New Road.

Initially housed in smaller wholesale and retail units along the Strangeways stretch, the brand’s golden logo eventually adorned a colossal building across the road, aptly named The Legendary Joe Bloggs.

From this base, the brand embarked on a global journey becoming the first British brand to soar into the top ten for denim sales worldwide.

The Joe Bloggs story is one of resilience and ambition, rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit of its founders, Nizam and Saeeder Ahmed.

From a market stall in Burnley to the wholesale empire of Pennywise Cash and Carry on Bury New Road, the Ahmed family’s vision propelled Joe Bloggs to unprecedented heights.

It was, for a short while, the coolest brand in the world.

Why did they close?

The owner of the brand, Juice Corporation, went into administration in 2018.

The firms’ failures came during a tough period for UK fashion retailers.

While new online fast-fashion brands saw sales skyrocket, older brands and High Street retailers struggled.

Joe Bloggs was set up in 1985m with the band riding the wave of Manchester’s cultural and musical resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

However, Mr Shami was declared bankrupt in 2009 after running up large gambling debts.

This was blamed on a series of unsuccessful business deals and an ill-fated move into gambling on stocks

What are your memories of their clothes? Let us see your pictures rocking the baggy flares!

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