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More about Joseph Saba

Described as ‘arguably the most creative force in Australian fashion’, and ‘the man responsible for teaching us how to wear black’, Joseph Saba is an icon of Australian fashion.

Joseph opened his first store, the “Joseph Saba Shirt and Sweater Shop”, in Flinders Lane, Melbourne in 1965. The store’s success was due to the provision of alternatives to the standard white business shirt. Twelve months later, Joe opened another two stores, and with his expansion came a name change, “The Stag Shoppe”.

Joe soon observed that jeans and denim were becoming popular. Consequently the ‘Staggers’ label was launched in 1969. The popularity of Staggers soared in the ‘70’s and it was Joseph Saba, behind Staggers, that helped revolutionise jeans in Australia at that time. Such was the phenomenon of Staggers, that security staff were required at his Flinders Lane Staggers store to control the waiting crowds. Customers bought their Staggers still wet from the washers, the jeans couldn’t be dried quick enough to keep up with the demand.

Joe opened his first women’s store under the Saba brand in 1974. He stocked the store with English designer imports as well as some domestic ranges. The store quickly developed into a well-known import salon, with some very high profile international clientele, including Rod Stewart, Grace Jones and Tina Turner.

Later, Joe’s Bourke Street store would become one of the larger import stores, with designer labels including Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Comme des Garcons becoming synonymous with Saba. French knitwear and some English hand knits were also popular.

At the end of the 1980’s Joe became aware of the need to support the Australian economy by introducing Australian made garments. As a result, Joe decided to go mainly with his own manufacturing, and only 15% content of import merchandise.

In 1992 Joe rekindled his lifetime love of denim, with the launch of locally manufactured ‘Saba Trademark’ jeans and jackets.

In 1994 Joe expanded his Saba stores into Sydney and it was a great success. Sydneysiders had a natural affiliation for the label. Perth followed, and then Brisbane, with eventually seventeen Saba stores in the fold, including a flagship store in Collins Street, Melbourne. Joe’s minimalist style now had a devoted following and was worn by celebrities such as Harry Connick Jnr, Tina Arena, Claudia Schiffer and Steffi Graf. Joe was also invited to design an outfit for Australia’s most famous clothes-horse; Barbie. Barbie was soon wearing her own Saba outfit.

In May 1999, during Mercedes Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, Joe suffered a sudden and near fatal heart attack at Sydney airport. Airline staff and paramedics revived him four times, before being hospitalised in a critical condition. Days later he underwent emergency heart bypass surgery. It was now time for Joe to slow down, and to re-assess his business commitments, a difficult task in a demanding industry.

A year after his heart attack, at the age of 59, Joe became a father for the first time, to twin boys Jack and Will.

In March 2002 Joe announced the sale of his Saba business, and his intention simplify his work ethos. He farewelled his fans at his final show during Melbourne Fashion Festival – where he received a standing ovation. The parade was classic Saba, featuring classic black suiting, denim, shirting and knits. There was barely a dry eye in the room.

Joe soon launched a new wholesale range called Nine by Joseph Saba, and eventually an online store under the label Joseph Saba.

In 2012 Joe decided to pull back on his commitments and now consults on a number of fashion projects, and enjoys mentoring fashion students and up and coming designers, passing his vast experience and knowledge on to the next generation of Australian fashion designers.

test2Saba’s awards have included:

  • Style Ambassador – Melbourne Caulfield Cup Carnival 2007
  • The Legends – Joe Saba stamp – Australia Post stamp series 21 January 2005
  • National Gallery of Victoria – 2005 design for archives
  • Fashion Group International Award of Excellence
  • Powerhouse Museum/Sydney Morning Herald Fashion of the Year – Designs for the Archives
  • FIA Australian Fashion Awards – Best Contemporary Collection, & Men’s nominee for Fashion Retailer of the Year
  • Elders Australian Wool Awards – Best Menswear Collection
  • City of Stonnington Fashion Hall of Fame
  • Retailers Association of Queensland – Award for Excellence (2002)

For further information please contact Marita Saba at


 1965 The Joseph Saba Shirt and Sweater Shop opened in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
 1966 Joe opened another city store in Bourke Street and then another in Geelong. With Joe’s expansion into other areas in men’s fashion came a name change, “The Stag Shoppe”.
 1969  ‘Staggers’ label was launched.
 1974 Joe opened his first women’s store ‘Saba’ in Toorak Road, South Yarra, stocking imported English and Japanese designer clothes.
 1985 1 March 1985 officially opened 462 Toorak Road as a Yohji Yamamoto franchise shop, exclusively Yohji. 
 1992 Joe rekindled his lifetime love of denim, with the launch of locally manufactured ‘Saba Trademark’ jeans and jackets.
 1994 Saba expanded into Sydney, opening three stores within the year.
 1995  Saba officially opened in Perth.
 1996 Saba for Men store opened on Sydney’s Oxford Street in March, along with a women’s store in Mosman. Perth also opened their second store in Subiaco.
 1999 Joe suffered a near fatal heart attack whilst attending Mercedes Australian Fashion Week, in Sydney. A year later he becomes a father for the first time, to twins Jack and Will.
 2000 October 2000 saw the opening of Saba’s flagship store on 234 Collins Street, Melbourne.
 2002 Joe announces the sale of his Saba business and his semi-retirement.
 2003 Joe launches new wholesale label ‘Nine by Joseph Saba’
 2005 Joe is featured on a postage stamp, part of the Australian Legends series presented by Australia Post


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