Images by: Crazy Robertson

Text by: Janneke de Jong

Issue name: The Down & Out Issue

Rags Refusing Riches


The sheer glamour of homelessness has always permeated fashion one way or another. Whether it's John Galliano's hobo haute couture, Diesel Black Gold, Dior, Chanel, photographs by Steven Meisel, Chadwick Tyler, Julia Chesky or, pinnacle of the movement, the fictional Derelicte show from fashion spoof Zoolander - it is the extreme paradox between a billion dollar industry and a penniless lifestyle that never fails to mesmerise the audience.

Cue John Wesley Jermyn, a 60-year old homeless street performer in Beverly Hills. He went from star athlete to schizophrenic, and combines the two by his daily roller-skate performances on shopping heaven Robertson Boulevard - earning himself the nickname The Crazy Robertson. With his spandex jazzercise outfits and outrageous acrobatics, Jermyn gathered a loyal fan base over the years, yet three of his admirers stood out from the crowd.

In 2007, twenty-somethings Kevin Hayes, Vic Ackerman and Teddy Hirsch befriended the hobo legend and decided he deserved to be immortalised. With Jermyn's approval they set up fashion brand The Crazy Robertson, consisting of hoodies, tees, wallets, and signed prints of the not-so-down and out skater. Graced with his skate moves, winged rollerblades and the slogan "No Money No Problems," they've been a hit with the hipsters ever since.

The organic cotton outfits all feature a graphic print that in one way or another signifies their homeless inspiration. From a bright blue roller skate with wings mimicking the famous Lacoste crocodile logo to a portrait of a proudly posing John, casting not one, but two colourful silhouettes shadows. Ironically, especially the wallets with four Crazy Robertson silhouettes and the infamous "No Money No Problems" motto on it is a sell-out.           

Some call it a nightmare, other call it living the dream. John has purposefully chosen this lifestyle, and his cardboard sign states that he "Will dance for freedom." Despite reports that Hayes, Ackermann and Hirsch exploit the Robertson skater's mental illness, Jermyn seems happy with the faith he's chosen. He refuses money, so his 5% share in the company is paid in new roller-skates, clothes, food, paper for his art projects, a boom box and a camera. Moreover, the eccentric even models all new additions to the line.

Today, John Jermyn's MySpace has 1201 friends, videos of his dancing, photo shoots, and a yet-to-be-filled blog. Although the online store doesn't seem to have been updated since 2009, The Crazy Robertson himself is still regularly spotted throwing some shapes on the boulevard in LA, amongst shops that now sell his merchandise.