Contrarian. How else would you describe a man who left a good job in the city – working in New York during its shiny ’80s heyday no less – to set up a mail-order clothes company at a time when buying things that got delivered was considered a bit, well, joke-worthy? Or was he just lucky – right time, right place, right instinct?

Johnnie launched Boden with a hand-drawn catalogue featuring eight menswear styles he wanted in his own wardrobe (and wanted to order from his armchair). That was 1991, and back then, catalogues for stylish people who like stylish clothes weren’t really a ‘thing’ in Britain.

Today, after a wild, unpredictable and exciting 30 years, Boden is a global company but it still has the same family vibes. It’s the opinion of the women in his life – his wife Sophie (who pushed him to follow his dream in the first place), his three discerning daughters and Johnnie’s feisty female sidekick – Sprout the dog – that he values over anything.

Photograph of the Boden family

Just your average, boring family really

Photograph of the Boden family
Photograph of Anna and Kate Boden

Anna and Katie in 1998

“He asks me for a lot of emotional advice,” says daughter Anna. “I’d say out of us three I’m the most level-headed and able to see two sides of every argument. But for creative stuff he’d ask Katie and logistical stuff he’d ask Stella.”

At the heart of everything has always been a desire to make clothes that stay in your wardrobe for a long time. Buttons that stay buttoned and cashmere that you can actually wear and wash and, well, live in. “No rubbish clothes” as Johnnie says, means just that – keep them on your back and out of landfill.

The design process has always been painstaking, and the quality so important that Johnnie is unrelentingly exacting about it. “

Anything aesthetic and brave and out of the ordinary inspires him,” says daughter Katie. “Literally anything and everything. Anything beautiful, anything with real character, that’s uplifting, whether that be a musician, or a film, or just something that’s eye-catching.”

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