Justin Saunders is a minimalist. The Montreal-based creative, better known as the designer behind JJJJound, has carved a name for himself in the world of contemporary fashion for his simple aesthetic.

After starting out as a lifestyle blog in 2006, JJJJound can now consider itself a fully-fledged fashion label that has a myriad of seasonal products and the co-sign of the late Virgil Abloh to prove it.

For JJJJound though, despite of the popularity of its mainline releases (its three-pack of plain white tees sell-out like hot cakes), the most important facet to the its business model is undoubtedly JJJJound collaborations.

Yet, following its latest reveal that seems to showcase a co-branded plain white Croc, the following question springs to mind: how minimal is too minimal?

The “collaborative” Croc — which is literally just a co-branded plain white Classic Clog – is arguably JJJJound’s most minimal collab yet, which is really saying something when you consider the label’s extensive back catalog.

While we’re currently only privy to a birds eye view of JJJJound’s Croc, the designer’s past releases are more than enough to go off.

From New Balance and Reebok to Vans and Salomon, JJJJound’s list of collaborators is impressively vast, though the products themselves are often less than staggering (not that it’s stopped them from selling out).

That’s not to say that JJJJound’s collaborative releases are bad by any means, it’s just that they’re, well, a little meh. 

Less-is-more is one thing, though JJJJound’s minimalist approach — where it merely adds its regular font motif — to an already popular silhouette is more like a less-is-less ethos.

Take its multiple New Balance collaborations, for example, which are essentially co-branded iterations of the Boston label’s most popular sneakers, or its latest Reebok release which is basically just a blacked out Club C.

Naturally, JJJJound’s collaborations retail for a lot more than their inline siblings. Its New Balance 992, for instance, initially landed for $260 back in 2020, almost $120 more than a mainline 992 and is still selling for almost $1,000 on various resale sites.

Hiked prices are, of course, nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to a collaboration. Yet when the collaborative aspect of the partnership feels lacking, it can feel a touch insolent.

Even still, I expect JJJJound’s forthcoming Crocs to sell for a lot more than $49.99, the price of non-JJJJound all-white Classic Clog.

It’s also worth noting that where previous JJJJound collaborations would sell out almost instantaneously (its NB 992 was almost impossible to get a hold of), some of its more recent releases — namely its recent all-white Vans — are still readily available.

Although a collaboration’s success doesn’t necessarily only boil down to the amount of pairs sold, it is an indication that JJJJound’s less-is-less approach is beginning to wear thin.

Sure, Justin Saunders and his JJJJound label may well focus on the more unassuming aspects of design, but is the world of fashion starting to grow tired of it? It certainly looks that way.

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