To some, JJJJound (pronounced Jound) is just a label they see on celebrities like Zoë Kravitz. But to the fans that have been following Justin Saunders since he started the JJJJound moodboard back in 2006, it is streetwear’s hottest brand.
Located in Montreal, Canada, Saunders created a digital moodboard long before it was cool to do so, forming the JJJJound platform in 2006. The idea behind the moodboard was simply to find and post eloquent images for the design community to see, a one stop shop for creative inspiration.
The beauty of JJJJound? It was essentially a secret between creatives before every tumblr and Instagram was a moodboard. For years, Saunders impeccable taste was reflected across the JJJJound imagery of sneakers, interior design, vintage cars… anything he drew inspiration from. All images were caption-less to really draw the consumers eye to the image posted. You can see this now everywhere you look; we all have Pinterest accounts with our favourite images, but all this was built on JJJJound’s aesthetic.SHOP JJJJound
Much like the minimal approach towards design that Saunders takes, it remains very on brand when you try to deep dive into the career of the man behind JJJJound. We know that Saunders resides in Montreal, Canada. We also know that Saunders was an Art Director for album covers, including Kanye West, Pusha T and Vic Mensa.
Saunders even plays down his own career on LinkedIn, listing himself simply as a Creative + Strategist… no mention of his work on projects with some of the biggest recording artists in the World or working for New York Times T Magazine as a style contributor. T
he truth is that even the cult following of Saunders and JJJJound can’t exactly pinpoint what it is the brand does. Is it a moodboard? Are they a clothing brand? Or is JJJJound simply a person flexing their creative muscles through multiple avenues? All the above are essentially true, and the mystery adds to the allure for most consumers.SHOP JJJJound
The clothing JJJJound sell aren’t quite the same as usual streetwear brands, if you are looking for brash colours or all over prints this is not the brand for you. They keep very on brand with minimal colourways and their classic embroidered logo. Simplicity is key for each piece and what drives consumers back to JJJJound every season.
The quality of their items also shows in every piece they drop, each garment made to the highest level in Canada. Saunders creates pieces he would want wear and puts comfort first which is evident in the quality of the items. A streetwear label putting comfort and quality before flash designs is uncommon due to the lack of hype that generally surrounds minimal pieces, but Saunders is not trying to create hype around his items. This ironically draws more people towards the brand, me included.SHOP JJJJound
JJJJound are certainly not the first brand to design and release accessories, we have all thought about splurging on a Supreme Kayak, haven’t we? The difference here again is Saunders creating pieces that he would want and use himself which in turn resonates with the consumers of JJJJound due to the connection between the brand and its fans.
In an interview from 2017 with The Strategist, Saunders said “I made it because I needed it”, talking about a tote bag from a previous drop. This statement rings true to many if not all of the accessories and items of clothing that ends up for sale on JJJJound’s website. In that same interview Saunders comments on how much he loves Sharpies and the next drop we have a JJJJound sharpie release, it’s a perfect business model to make what it is you require and to then sell that same item to your legions of followers.SHOP JJJJound
The first collaboration to really grab my attention was the Vans Old Skool Saunders created. The silhouette was released in 2017 exclusively at a Montreal location, and featured three colourways.The sneakers inspirations were drawn from greenhouses, plants, art canvases, tote bags, woodworkers & furniture.SHOP JJJJound
The next collaboration to really grab people’s attention was the JJJJound x Reebok Club C 85 that released last year. The shoe originally released in a pop up dubbed “Centre de Commande,” a store decked out as a retro office space imagined by JJJJound. With only 300 pairs available at the pop-up store the sneakers were highly sought after. The shoes released again later in the year with a further 1500 pairs available, but due to the hype around this shoe they now resell for around £250-£350. Another JJJJound x Reebok collaboration was also teased earlier this year, with the Reebok Classic Nylon the silhouette of choice this time around.SHOP JJJJound
Saunders first tested the waters of a collaboration with sneaker giants New Balance in 2018 with the JJJJound x New Balance 990v3. As with most of the collaborative work JJJJound do, they kept the majority of the silhouettes OG styling. The sneaker featured minimal hues from top to bottom to fall in line with the design studios branding, with a custom insole being the only part of the sneaker highlighting the collaboration.New Balance have seen a boom in their popularity in recent years, with many of their silhouettes featured on Instagram models feeds all around the World. However, the 990 was never the go to silhouette for sneakerheads so the shoe selection by Saunders was interesting. This collaboration currently fetches around £470 in the resale market.
JJJJound have also recently dropped multiple colourways of the New Balance 992 trainer. Unlike anything Saunders usually does they have actually selected the most popular New Balance sneaker currently on the market, the 992. Originally the sneaker of choice for Steve Jobs, the silhouette has seen a boom in its popularity since being spotted on the likes of Sporty & Rich’s Emily Oberg and many other influencers. Whenever the shoes grey colourway is restocked anywhere it sells out instantly, so you can only imagine how popular the JJJJound versions will be.SHOP JJJJound
As with all of Saunders collaborations the colourways are muted, he has re-imagined the colourway of his initial drop with New Balance, dressed in a mix of greys. The other colourway teased is a mix of greens, which you can only assume is further inspiration drawn from the greenhouses & plants from the Vans drop.
The term trend setter gets thrown around more than ever now with everybody that has access to Instagram listed as an influencer, but what Saunders done with JJJJound was different. Saunders created a web page filled with images he found inspirational in 2006, fast forward to 2020 and Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr have millions of users doing the same. I do not think it is a coincidence that JJJJound have been using cream laces in their sneakers and as drawstrings for years only to now see everybody online doing the same. JJJJound even had an eBay resell page where Saunders hand selected and sold vintage stationary items that were used in the day to day running of the brand. A great concept that shows the depth of detail Saunders puts into keeping his consumers interested.
Saunders has stayed true to the brand he created back in 2006, despite the huge growth and increased interest surrounding JJJJound. The moodboard that brought JJJJound into the spotlight is still updated regularly, whilst each drop still features simple pieces of clothing and accessories required for the day to day running of the studio. GQ once referred to Saunders as “the Internet’s Coolest Taste God” back in 2017, and this still rings true today.