John Simons, the man and the store, hold legendary status around London Town and beyond. Introducing Ivy, preppy, Americana and all that lies in-between to these shores in the ’50s, a love of ‘Traditional American, British & Continental clothing for men’ lay at the heart of his past and present ventures. Finding new context for these classic looks, Simons and his loyal customers turned classic into modern, something near subversive about their sharply detailed style. You either got it or you didn’t. Revisiting this quiet menswear revolution, Jason Jules of Garmsville directs a fascinating documentary entitled The Neat Offensive, we ask him to explain a little more about the project in his own words.
The Neat Offensive is a new documentary film project about London cult retailer John Simons. John’s best known as the man who named ‘the Harrington the Harrington’ but there’s more to him than that – I see him as an unsung hero of British menswear – as an original mod father you might say. Basically the film looks at his series of influential stores including The Ivy, Squire and The Village Gate and the impact he’s had on street style and menswear – including the mod look and controversial styles like skinhead and suede-head – ever since the early ’60s. The film explores the roots of these movements – the music, the clubs, the violence, the drugs and also the secret codes of looking neat. It’s a very understated, often invisible subculture – the complete opposite to the hippy movement and the punks who came later – but in many ways it’s just as important, I think. The film’s due for release in May.