John Simons - A Modernist is a documentary film from Mono Media films that tells the story of “British Menswear’s Unsung hero”.

Anyone with a more than a passing interest in men’s style owes John Simons a huge debt of gratitude and if you’ve never heard of him, trust me when I say he will have unknowingly to you influenced your wardrobe in some way.

Written by Jason Jules and directed by Lee Cogswell it is a 55 minute feature that charts the rise and rise of John Simons role in British style and clothing.

Born into a Clothes orientated family in London’s East End, John’s career is charted from the early days where his attention and eye for detail saw him become a sought after window dresser after an apprenticeship at Cecil Gee. With a street wise streak that led to shops from his native Hackney, to the famous “Ivy Shop” in Richmond which opened in 1964 and back into the West End of London, where he remains to this day, currently on Chiltern Street in Marlybone.

This is a lovingly told story, quite obviously made by people with a similar love of style and clothing that is a testament to the influence it’s subject has had on what is worn in this country.


Paul Weller, long term fan of John Simons who tells of first seeing a crowd of sharp looking Suedeheads outside the Ivy Shop and immediately wanting to know more!

This is further enhanced by many guest appearances from the likes of Paul Weller, Suggs, designer Paul Smith and Kevin Rowlands from Dexys Midnight Runners who shamelessly admits to going through a scruffy phase but was enticed back to a more stylish look by an American shop window, and his next port of call back in London was John Simons’s Shop!


Kevin Rowland, no more dungarees!

John brought the American “Ivy League” look to this country, and anyone with a eye for a decent shirt, sharp jacket and well made shoes bought into this immediately.

Broadcaster Robert Elms describes this as clothes made for American Advertising executives being worn by English kids, giving them the appearance of well dressed street urchins!

This sharp styled “Ivy” look was and still remains deeply routed in the fashion conscious British Subcultures. Embraced by Mods, Skins, Suedeheads and rude boys alike.

A Modernist is a film that deserves to be watched. Beautifully Shot, with an attention to detail and a jazz based soundtrack that would meet John’s approval it is a homage to a forward thinking man who has managed to survive and prosper for over 50 years by having a gift of style.

While this can’t be taught, John Simons has educated many and continues to do so to this day. As producer Mark “Bax” Baxter says “what he sells is a lifestyle, once you have discovered John you keep going back, and that is why he survives and thrives. His customers are in for the duration.”

A Modernist in the true sense of the word, Merc highly recommends this feature, congratulates all involved in its production and above all salutes Mr John Simons, a Modernist!


John Simons - a man for all seasons.

Words by Richie Kyle