Joseph Abboud (born May 5, 1950) is an American – Lebanese menswear fashion designer and author.
Abboud was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Abboud family was a working-class Lebanese Maronite Catholic family that started out in the South End of Boston, and later to Roslindale . Abboud’s mother, Lila, was a seamstress. On a trip to Australia, Abboud discovered that his great-grandfather had owned Australia’s largest men’s tailored-clothing company.
Abboud graduated from the University of Massachisetts-Boston in 1972, then studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He turned down a teaching position at the Brookline High School.
Abboud’s first experience in the fashion industry was as a 16-year-old working part-time at Louis Boston. Abboud stated: “Louis Boston was a huge part of my career. I really landed in a world of very glamorous style, beautiful clothes, just the world of what international fashion was about. If this had never happened, then the rest of it wouldn’t have happened.”
Abboud joined Ralph Lauren in 1981, eventually becoming associate director of menswear design. He launched his own label in 1986. In 1988, JA Apparel was created as a joint venture between Abboud and GFT (Gruppo Finanziario Tessile) USA.
In 1991 Abboud worked with fashion director Peter Speliopoulos. Abboud was the first designer to win the CFDA Award as Best Menswear Designer two years in a row. Many of Abboud’s famous friends are also his customers, including American trumpeter rumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, author and former TV news anchor Tom Brokaw, and former Boston Red Sox shortop Norman Garciaparra.
Abboud sold his trademarks and name to JA Apparel for $65 million in 2000. The company was acquired by private-equity firm J.W. Childs Associates for $73 million in 2004, and Abboud left JA Apparel in 2005.
Abboud launched a new line called Jaz in 2007. He also created the Black Brown 1826 line for the Lord & Taylor department store in 2008. The year 2008 also marked the opening of Abboud’s first stores in China.
In 2010, Abboud became the chief creative officer of HMX, owner of the Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman brands. HMX made an offer to buy JA Apparel for $90 million in 2011. In December 2012, he became Chief Creative Director of Men’s Wearhouse.
Abboud wrote Threads: My Life Behind the Seams in the High-Stakes World of Fashion in which he thoroughly describes the fashion industry from designing and selling clothes to naming colors. He also writes about some of the negative experiences that he has endured such as racial profiling after the September 11 attacks, a court battle over legal rights to his name, and a failed flagship store that is now occupied by Donna Karan.
Breast cancer activism
Abboud’s mother and sister both succumbed to breast cancer. As a result, Abboud has become a breast cancer activist who designed a one-of-a-kind GMC Sierra vehicle to fundraise for a Concept:Cure charity event and has participated in many other charity events for breast cancer research. GM offered a Joseph Abboud Limited Edition Buick Regal GS and LS from 2001 to 2004, and a Joseph Abboud Limited Edition Buick Rendezvous for 2004 and 2005.
Abboud was honored as one of five “Men for the Cure” by GQ magazine and General Motors’Concept:Cure during a breast cancer fund-raiser. Concept:Cure raised $2.6 million for breast cancer organizations.
Abboud stated: “Concept:Cure is a very special program for me. My mother and sister died from breast cancer. It’s a disease we really have to find a cure for. I know I speak for my colleagues when I say (Concept:Cure) is not about a monetary or PR opportunity for us, it’s about doing something really good.”
Abboud has two daughters, and resides in Bedford, New York, with his family. Abboud frequently appeared on Don Imus’s radio show and is a regular caller to the New York City radio station, WFAN, to discuss his beloved Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees’ rival. In 2002, Abboud was the first fashion designer to throw out the opening pitch at Boston’s Fenway Park for a Red Sox game.
Abboud is referenced in the 1991 novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, in Seinfeld episode “The Wig Master” (1996), in The Wire episode “Bad Dreams” (2003), and he meets and exchanges quips with the Boston detective Spenser in Chapter 3 of Robert B. Parker’s 2009 novel The Professional. Joseph Abboud’s style is also referenced in Harlan Coben’s novels, Tell no One(2001) and Just one look (2004).