As if to prove that every cloud has a silver lining, the sad closure of J Simons in Covent Garden has resulted in this charming new project from the very same John Simons, a veteran retailer whose The Squire Shop we featured in our guides Wish You Were There and The Look Of London. The new premises are on Chiltern Street, which was for many years a pleasant backwater, although it was far too close to Marylebone High Street to stay that way. John Simons’ shop, at least, is a welcome addition.
Some of the stock will be familiar to Simons’ many devotees, but the new surroundings are quite a departure. Clothes are displayed on and around mid-century furniture (it seems socks fit just as well as Penguin books on an Isokon Donkey) and it’s a lighter, more spacious and less oppressive place in which to browse. There’s a great deal to look at, the clothes of course, but also the modern paintings and sculptures carefully placed in the various rooms.
Alongside the familiar Pendleton shirts, Baracuta jackets, and loafers (Bass Weejuns and Florsheim Yumas), there are Simons’ own-brand creations which will be produced in limited quantities. Right now Ivy League-style suits, popover buttondown shirts and high-waisted corduroy trousers are among the offerings, but lines will be expanded as the shop establishes itself. Original signs from manufacturers (some sadly defunct) lend a sense of continuity, as does the presence of John Simons himself, now ably assisted by his son Paul. There’s hope yet.
Photographs by Garson Byer. See more of Garson’s work at In A Lonely Place.