Casely-Hayford began producing collections in 1983 under the label name KIT, selling to small specialist fashion stores in London such as Demob in Beak Street, Axiom and New Masters in the King's Road, Chelsea. His first collections were made from recycled WWII army tents which were taken apart and then cut into jackets, trousers, skirts and tops. After construction, these garments would be industrially washed creating a worn and distressed appearance. This look was hugely successful, however, making clothes from used tents was labour intensive. Casely-Hayford discovered R&J Partington mill in Manchester who were weaving incredibly robust cotton shirting. He began making shirts from this fabric. A shirt which opened at the front and back became an instant success and launched the Joe Casely-Hayford brand proper in 1984. Now selling to international designer stores such as Jones, Joseph and Crolla in London also Susanne Bartsch, Charivari and Bloomingdale's in New York City. Casely-Hayford was nominated for Womenswear British Designer of the Year in 1989, and also Innovative Designer of the Year in 1991. He also worked as a freelance creative director with Piero Panchetti in Italy, and wrote and styled pages for major publications including The Face, i-D, Arena Homme +, The Independent, How to Spend It and Senken Shimbun in Japan. In 1991, for Sock Shop, along with Vivienne Westwood, he designed a range of women's tights featuring the brands playing card motif and contributed clothes to the Derek Jarman film Edward II. In 1993 he was the first designer to be approached to create ranges exclusively for Topshop, and he also designed special collector's pieces for the Joseph label. In 2002, he designed a limited edition T-shirt in collaboration with the Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili. In 1995, as a departure from the nature of his previous commissions, Casely-Hayford undertook the design of the hugely successful and critically acclaimed exhibition The Art of African Textiles – Technology, Tradition, and Lurex at London's Barbican Centre museum. The exhibition was a major feature of the "Africa ‘95" programme in the United Kingdom. Casely-Hayford contributed definitive pieces of work to many fashion and art related exhibitions around the globe, as well as being the subject of exhibitions himself. "Through the Ages", a retrospective of his work, was held at "The Edge" space in Tokyo, September 1996. Joe Casely-Hayford pieces are kept in permanent collections by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Fashion and Textile Museum in London, the Museum of London and the Museum at FIT Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Casely-Hayford produced his own brand label for men and women continuously between the mid-1980s and 2005, and showed his collections on the runway in Paris, London and Tokyo. In addition, he undertaken work for film, ballet, and bespoke commissions for bands and artists in the music industry, dressing many leading celebrities. His clientele included The Clash, Lou Reed, Liam Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker, Take That, Suede, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Michael Fassbender. Casely-Hayford designed the stage wardrobe for U2 from 1991 to 1993. This led to his having created seminal outfits for the band during their two-year world tour and for the albums Achtung Baby and Zooropa. U2's Bono photographed wearing Joe Casely-Hayford was the first man to be featured on the cover of Vogue in December 1992. This cover was also selected as one of Alexandra Shulman's top 20 covers. His signature style of original yet wearable clothing has been sold through over 150 stores worldwide, the majority being in Japan. From 1993 to 2004 his collections were distributed through Look Inc., also the distributors for Marc Jacobs' Look. The collections have been sold in prestigious stores and select shops throughout Japan such as Beams; United Arrows; Edifice; History; Deuxième Classe; Tomorrowland; Robehouse; and Dressterior. International stockists have included Selfridges, Barneys, Liberty, b-Store and colette.