Tuesday, April 2, 2013

John Simons Online (2013)

While your faithful editor spends the week back in Boston, our man in London, Jimmy Mellor, reports in with and exciting development for us Ivy enthusiasts who don't make it across the Atlantic nearly as often as we would like to...

Last month saw the launch of the long-awaited John Simons online shop: a brave new venture for John and his son Paul, as they have built their reputation on personal service and a personal relationship with their customers. You pop in for a shirt, a conversation develops, before you know it you are invited for a drink! The personal touch has always been the hallmark of shopping at  'John's' in each of his many shops over the years and so translating that same level of attention to detail has been the challenge in setting up the new online shop. Hence it being long awaited. Unless it could be done really well the feeling was why let down the customer with anything less?

The new website is still in development and growing daily - probably that will always be the case as there will always be new stock to showcase, new designs from John to debut, an dnew additions to the nature of the shop. Last time I was in, John showed me some vintage thermos flasks he'd acquired purely for the perfection of their design.

Being an independent retailer the London shop is a one-off and that has been the main reason for the move into online. Unless you could visit the shop or were happy to mail order over the telephone (a service John has always supplied) then the frustration for many was in wanting to see and get their hands on the clothes that kept on being discussed. Facebook helped to an extent in spreading the ethos and culture of the shop and Twitter provided updates on the latest, but in the computer-centric world we now all live in (for good or ill) the move to adding an online shop to what John has been doing since 1955 had to come.

And I think it's been well worth the wait. What I would have given for a service like this when I first started out as a 13 year old kid in 1978 with an instant obsession for the clothes I'd seen on my Uncle's old Modern Jazz LP sleeves. In England, unless you knew about John Simons (and I didn't back then), you simply could not get the clothes. You'd get something that came kind of close if you really hunted around but it never would be quite right. Trust me, before encountering John Simons I spent 8 years and wasted a lot of money on trying to get The Look. Now it's all there at the click of a mouse.

Already online from John you can equip yourself with an Ivy League wardrobe from head to toe. Especially of interest is the John Simons Apparel company range of John's own designs informed by his encyclopedic knowledge of menswear. All unique products that you just won't find anywhere else. The shirts due to their production runs have already attracted a 'stamp collector' mentality with John's earlier designs now changing hands for the sort of prices rare records attract. Again, trust me on this as I am putting together a John Simons archive of items from his earlier shops to date. Beyond the very generous donations from long time loyal customers there can be much haggling over all the rest - which is all great good natured fun.

Amongst the various rarities I've collected so far from The Ivy Shop, The Squire Shop, The Village Gate, J. Simons, and now John Simons Est.1955 (all the brain child of John), a Lion of Troy buttondown from The Ivy Shop purchased in 1969 by Mr. Ian Hingle especially stands out as he also enclosed a photograph of himself wearing the very same shirt from that year. So timeless is the style that it could have been taken yesterday. Ultimately the collection will be offered to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

For Ivy style fans in England things have rarely been so accessible and now also for the world due to the Internet. Which is just how the style should be.

Jimmy Frost Mellor, Ivy League Menswear Consultant and Archivist

Editor's Note: all of the items pictured are from John's current online inventory. Be sure to follow one of the links to see the full online selection. 

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