Justin Saunders — also known as JJJJound — is one of the most influential and progressive creators of modern day fashion. His eponymous brand has paved the way for a new era of pared-back designs and high-profile collaborations, including Reebok and New Balance. Here, we take a closer look at JJJJound’s journey — from his industry-defining moments to his most-wanted releases — and discover how Justin Saunders turned his online “mood board” into a worldwide sensation.

A blog. That’s what kickstarted JJJJound’s ground-breaking journey in 2006. Born in a pre-Tumblr and Pinterest world, Saunders’ MAYBE SOMEBODY blog hosted a range of expertly curated images and quotes, including tonal interiors and minimalist fashion. After becoming one of the Internet’s best kept secrets for years, Saunders removed all the text from the site in 2008 to focus purely on aesthetic. However, it wasn’t until the words disappeared that people started to take note. Emails trying to discover who was behind the blog began pouring into his inbox — one of them from T magazine asking if he would contribute to the publication. Saunders accepted and went on to gain an appreciation for menswear. By the turn of the decade, JJJJound was one of the Internet’s foremost tastemakers, with Saunders pulling the strings.

The borderless online world of the Internet continued to aid Saunders’ early career, allowing him to thrive on a global scale. Based in Montreal, away from the creative hubs of New York, London or Paris, Saunders grew an online following. His modest style and mysterious anonymity attracted some of the industry’s biggest names — from Virgil Abloh to Matthew Williams and Heron Preston. Even Kanye West endorsed what Saunders was offering, famously questioning if things were “JJJJound-approved.”

After brushing shoulders with fashion heavyweights, the early 2010s saw Saunders evolve from digital blogger to recognised apparel designer. With a keen eye for detail and precision, Saunders launched his design studio, equipped with a strong vision for quality over quantity. Staying true to his minimalistic and elevated style, he created a limited-edition range of heritage-inspired staples. This hyper-curated collection of shopper-style tote bags, pin badges, socks and beanies mirrored his blog’s refined aesthetic, all the while giving a nostalgic nod to his devoted followers. 

The success of JJJJound’s lifestyle and fashion collections, coupled with public recognition from Abloh, meant it came as no surprise when the brand expanded into the footwear scene. After collaborating with Victory Sportswear, Saunders set his sights on skateboarding aficionados, Vans. The pair launched the Vans x JJJJound Old Skools exclusively for “Patience” — a Montreal pop-up shoe — alongside a selection of homeware. Soon becoming one of the most-wanted silhouettes from 2017, this release single-handedly shifted JJJJound into the realm of hype.

It was upon the partnership with Boston-based New Balance that things really kicked off. Joining forces in 2018, Saunders reworked the design of the iconic 990v3, dressing it with muted tones and subtle touches of off-white and silver. To the untrained eye, this colourway looked much the same of New Balance’s extensive portfolio, but on closer inspection, NB enthusiasts were able to spot the difference. This would mark the first of many New Balance and JJJJound collaborations, including the 990v4 and, more recently, another coveted 990v3 release.

Despite the energy that’s been poured into the New Balance collaboration, Saunders hasn’t taken a step back with other partnerships — quite the opposite. From Dr. Martens, A.P.C and ASICS to upcoming collabs with Puma and Tekla, he constantly pushes boundaries, driven by a desire to change the landscape of fashion. A far cry from his humble beginnings, Saunders has secured himself – and his brand — a place in the history books.