John Simons


Thursday 8th June 2017

Describe your style in three words? 
On the money.  

How important is identity within Style?
Well, it is essential. Although, in part, I think it is good to be oblivious to your own look too. But it is not just your look, but what you say and what you think. You could say that your look is very important in expressing your personality, but equally important are the accompanying words and thoughts.

How has modernism influenced you? 
Enormously - you know growing up after World War II, going to Art School, it was everything to me. Modernism in music, modernism in art and modernism in clothes. It's extremely important but in a kind of unconscious way. I didn't wake up thinking I want to be a modernist - it just coloured my whole approach to life.

How much does music influence style and fashion?
Well for me, tremendously. It was always an integral part of the whole process. Because I would look at the LP covers and I would see what Chet Baker was wearing, and I would want to wear the same. The Miles Davis covers, back in the day, when he was wearing the green button down's and all that sort of stuff. It was a massive input. Steve McQueen always wore his clothes very well, and he became a kind of iconic figure of the Ivy League silhouette. See I was going to America in the mid-60s and seeing all these looks, and everyone looked good. It was a very vibrant time, and it was very much a shared look.  

Is attitude is an integral part of style?
I would say so, yes. For good or for bad. I mean you can't pretend that to have attitude - but if you have a manner or confidence about you that seems honest and genuine and it helps to portray your style, I think that's great. 

If you could put any three bands on a line up?
For me, The Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which also featured Chet Baker. The Chico Hamilton Quintet. And then Charlie Parker, with Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie in the early Bebop Quartets. Yeah, so Charlie Parker was the kind of East Coast, really gritty Jazz. Gerry Mulligan had a great, well-packaged identity and so did Chico Hamilton. 

What is the best Gig you have ever been to? 
Stan Kenton at the Albert Hall in 1955, when I was a 15 or 16. They were a really influential band in the early days of Jazz, and for me, it was incredible. An unbelievable experience. It was my first sense of getting into a scene, I bought a trench coat from Millets, the old military shop, to go to it. Cost me six guineas in old money!

John Simons - A Modernist

John Simons is perhaps one of the least known, but one of the most influential figures in British street style. From a working-class tailoring family in East End London, he has always had an exceptional knack for spotting new street trends. Immersing himself in the nascent Soho Jazz scene in the '50s, flying to New York to get the latest style for his shops, and being an integral part of the burgeoning modernist milieu in the early Sixties. His seminal shops The Ivy and Squire are often cited as the crucible of the Mod fashion scene. Always observing and catering for the 'unspoken needs of my generation', his eye for sartorial detail and overall influence is legendary. He is the man who named 'The Harrington'.

John's incredible journey through fashion and style is documented in a film by Jason Jules, Lee Cogswell and Mark Baxter. 'John Simons - A Modernist' features exclusive interviews with Paul Weller, Sir John Hegarty and Sir Paul Smith. 

The film isn't just about clothes. It’s about Modernism and an avant-garde mindset - an authentic way of seeing everything from art to architecture to music and beyond that makes his story so compelling and unique.

Click here to find out more and view 'John Simons - A Modernist'

Read our full interview with John below.

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