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Style & Stuff Editorial

johnsimons.jpg The REAL modfather

John Simons popularised the Harington jacket (and, indeed, gave it its name) and has long been lionised by the likes of Paul Weller, hordes of sharply dressed mods, and anyone else who sees value in looking as neat as possible. A new documentary about him has just been released.

Harrington-style jackets have actually been around since the 1930s, made by the clothing company Baracuta – whose original design – otherwise known as the G9 – is still in production today (that’s a G4 pictured). Elvis wore one in the 1958 film King Creoleand icons of cool Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra were also pictured wearing them. Someone else also given over to their timeless appeal was Rodney Harrington, a fictional character in 1960s US soap Peyton Place(played by Ryan O’Neal), and when John Simons started pushing them on to mods in his London store, he marketed them as the “Harrington” jacket and the name just stuck.

Born in 1939, Simons grew up in a tailoring family in East London and by the mid-1950s he was working in West End menswear store Cecil Gee. He was also in tune to what was happening with the zeitgeist, particularly around Soho, and when he opened his own store he catered for the burgeoning mod scene, later going on to attract discerning skin- and suede-heads who were in thrall to Oxford button downs, brogues and three-button jackets.

This new documentary film features interviews with musicians such as Kevin Rowland, Paul Weller and Suggs, as well as broadcasters such as Robert Elms – and the man himself – and is a fitting tribute to someone who always sent his customers out into the world looking as sharp as a paper cut.

John Simons: A Modernist is out on DVD from Mono Media Films.