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Simon McAleese

Meet Menswear Illustrator Deliberate Indifference

Simon Mcaleese aka @DeliberateIndifference is a menswear illustrator based in Sunderland. We first came across Simon's work on Instagram and his fun, vibrant and cartoon style of illustration caught our attention. We caught up with Simon to discuss the growing popularity of illustration in menswear.

Tell us a bit about yourself — Where does your love of menswear come from, and how did you become an illustrator?

I’ve had a keen interest in clothing since I was in my early teens. I grew up in rural Northern Ireland at a time before online shopping had taken off, so my choices were fairly limited to the high street staples but I always got flak from my mates for how much attention I paid to what I wore. When I went to university, I was spending a lot of my time - and my student loan - in independent shops which sold vintage clothing, and I think that was the time I realised I had the menswear bug.

Like most people, as I’ve grown older my style has changed, but if anything, I am more fascinated by menswear than ever before. I bulked out during the first lockdown back in 2020 and needed a new wardrobe — it’s been a lot of fun putting that together. I have purchased a mixture of both new and pre-loved clothing in an attempt to save money but also do my bit for the environment. It’s hard to be interested in clothing and not be cognisant of the impact the industry is having on our planet. I am at a stage now where I’m quite happy with what I’ve got, and try to buy less but also buy better where I do.

As for illustration, I’ve always loved drawing and being creative. I never had the confidence to share my work and a lot of friends were taken aback when I started posting my work on Instagram as it has been something I’ve just kept to myself for years. Since I decided to start sharing my work on my Instagram account in early 2021, it’s taken off rapidly. I’ve done work for companies large and small, and still pinch myself when people ask me to work with them. My illustrations are still something I do as a sideline to my regular job, but my goal is very much to be doing it full time in the next few years. It’s such a great way of combining my passion for clothing with my creative side.

GQ recently released an interesting article entitled ‘Is the next great fashion influencer…a cartoon?’. Why do you think illustration is becoming such as powerful medium to bring clothes to life?

Yes! Quite a few friends sent me the link to that article the day it was released. It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot as well, for obvious reasons. I think that social media is saturated with photos of folks wearing clothes, but there aren’t nearly quite so many people illustrating clothes and those wearing them, so the illustrations stand out from the pack a little. I also think illustrations leave more scope for imagination, both for the artist and for the viewer.

"Social media is saturated with photos of folks wearing clothes. Illustration leaves more scope for imagination."

You recently worked on a fun project ‘Instafolk' — an open casting to illustrate your followers in a cartoon style. How did the idea come about?

I was looking to change things up a little and decided to try a more informal, cartoon style. I’ve gained quite a lot from Instagram and made some really good connections on there, and thought I could give something back to my followers by offering to illustrate them in this new style. I decided to post these as groups rather than individually, as I think seeing the people together helped create a visual representation of the community, and the diversity of styles of people on there. I draw inspiration from so many styles, and it was a fun project to work on. It gave me renewed energy and focus for the start of the new year. It was incredibly pleasing to see how well it was received.

Your illustrations cover a wide range of people and garments. How would you define your own style? What brands are you currently into?

Haha, yes, they do indeed. There is a veritable smorgasbord of styles out there and so many unique individuals sharing their own interpretations of these styles. Whilst I own certain items that are so ubiquitous they have almost become Instagram clichés, (Birkenstocks, NBs, wide leg pants, liner vests to name a few), I often see people wearing items I wouldn’t personally, and it’s fun to see that expression and individuality coming through. You can still pick up ideas from these outfits as well such as colour combinations and textures that work well in tandem.

I struggle to define my own style, as it draws from so many areas and I’m a bit of a magpie. I see something I like and I go for it. One of the adjectives that comes up most is maybe utilitarian, but then I also wear a lot of cardigans, jazzy open collar summer shirts, and some sweats too.

As for brands I’m into, I think my favourites at the moment are YMC, Folk, Universal Works, Albam and Corridor. Those certainly take up most real estate in my wardrobes. I will also tell anyone who is willing to listen how much I love my Battenwear Scout Anorak, too. There are a few things I’d like to add, mainly a pair of Yuketen Maine Guide boots, which I’ve never owned but am told are fantastic, and maybe some more orSlow and Engineered Garments. All that being said, I am trying to buy from independent makers where I can, as I love the idea of knowing who has made my clothes and understanding their provenance.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you have any favourite illustrators (menswear-related or otherwise)?

I’ve gained a lot of ideas from browsing Instagram, but I also frequent menswear blogs, websites, and magazines such as Popeye. I take a lot of inspiration from pop culture, too. I studied film and media at university and always pay particular attention to characters’ clothing when watching films or television series. I’m not much of a “high fashion” guy so I’m not interested in what Timothée Chalamet wore to the Oscars, etc. Give me Clint Eastwood’s prison wardrobe in Escape from Alcatraz, Harrison Ford’s off-duty looks back in the day, or pretty much anything worn in The Talented Mr Ripley, and I’ll be happy.

In terms of illustrators, Quentin Blake’s illustrations of Roald Dahl’s novels were 100% what first interested me in drawing as a kid, He could convey so much with so few strokes of his pen. Magic. I’ve recently been enjoying the whimsical work of Jean Jullien, and the super detailed work of Bertrand Aznar. I like a graphic novel, too, and love the work of Fiona Staples. I can’t mention pop culture and graphic novels and not mention Jamie Hewlett of The Gorillaz. I love his style and think he encapsulates the crossovers of art, music and fashion perfectly.

Take a look at Simon's selection of pre-owned pieces from the likes of Gramicci, Patagonia, Universal Works and more.