Normalising vulnerability and promoting intimacy through streetwear: Wear? Magazine interviews Simpleboy

Individuality holds high importance within fashion, yet, in the age of record Yeezy sale times and an over-use of collaborations, the industry has somewhat lost its individual aims.

Whilst fashion descents into monotony, a project by London-based designer John James hauls the scene right back to its roots.

Simpleboy test streetwear’s reluctance to involve itself with vulnerability, uncertainty and loneliness, and have done so in a way that is unique, personal and highly engaging.



A constant theme of red, black and white has created a strong cohesion to the intimate topics the brand touches upon.

John James, the creative behind the label, told Wear? Magazine: “First and foremost, I want Simpleboy to be true to myself, I’m not deliberately trying to change streetwear.

“But, I do think that I’m challenging what you can print on a t-shirt and get people to connect with, and asking what people want to express about themselves.”

Sourcing inspiration from everything the world offers – taking in the environment and reinterpreting it – Simpleboy developed through John James’ engagement with hip-hop.


Artists such as Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator and Yung Lean helped Simpleboy find its voice.

“I loved how these artists were being praised and noticed while being so candid in their music when addressing themes of vulnerability and intimacy. I think this has stuck with me.

The intimacy that aligns itself with Simpleboy has been created through parody. Often, the stance Simpleboy take when looking at these topics is one that makes you question yourself.

Items that push messages such as ‘Love is highly addictive. Smoke instead.’ and ‘Intimacy seriously harms you and others around you’ leaves the consumer with an alternative angle on deeper topics than what is usually discussed within streetwear.

“I think using parody is particularly useful because it forces you to consider the context in which you’re looking at something.


“Irony also allows people to initially engage with my designs through because they might think they’re clever or funny.”

And, Simpleboy has matched the messages with a defined colour scheme. Items revolving around a trio of red white and black has created consistency and connection with the topics the brand touches upon.

Love, emotion and intimacy find themselves linked to the palettes Simpleboy use and it’s a very effective way of producing a message and keeping the designs minimalist in order for the consumer to interpret them in their own way.

“I’ve always veered more towards using red, black and white in my designs. I think they’re the most colours most purely associated with most of the themes I like to make graphics about.”

And the colour scheme currently finds itself awaiting a new collection. Yet, unlike many brands within the scene, this process falls in line with John James’ emotion. Clothes created not for fame or fortune but to normalise vulnerability and promote intimacy, something unique to Simpleboy.

John James on behalf of Simpleboy speaking to Wear? Magazine.

Images courtesy of Lou Willock (@blackhat._).

Socials: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

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