Harry Sims, otherwise known as the brains behind Hartex Feels Good or the bloke who ate loads of pies on Instagram live, does not want to be branded a “boil in the bag football lad” and rightly so. Football garms for Harry are not about expressing a tribalistic love for one specific team, but instead telling the stories that exist between the threads. Whether it’s a football shirt from the 80s or a 90s Glastonbury tee, if there’s a story to be told: Harry is there. After his shop was excommunicated from Depop and its all-too-familiar drama, Sims pragmatically took to the stalls of London to flog his curated gear and has never looked back. Don’t ask him about his mission statement, as in his own words he “couldn’t even tell you what a mission statement is”.
Growing up as a working-class lad from a single parent home, Harry has a strong affinity with the lefty, workingman roots of the beautiful game. He still views childhood trips to his beloved Orient as a way of giving his mum a break and has little interest in attending Premier League games where “you are treated like a customer”. Trips to Brisbane Road and away days have “always been a constant in my life” Harry told us as he reminisced on some of his fondest memories of the Orient atmosphere. He described the historical 2006 win at Fulham as “fucking pandemonium” before adding “You don't get many days like those as Leyton Orient supporters”.
This is a sentiment painfully true for a club that, in recent history, has endured yo-yo-ing between the leagues and a hapless owner whom Harry refuses to name aloud. When fan protests were at their heaviest, Harry got arrested in a hilarious escapade. He tells us “it's such an embarrassing story because I'm a football fan and I give this wrong impression of being an absolute fucking geezer when I tell people on dates I got arrested and it was just me throwing Andrex onto the pitch”.
Amidst the carnage, several fans were dressed as clowns as a slight at the owner, Harry recalls that BBC London radio wrongly identified him as part of the clown brigade who he jokingly claims, “stole his thunder”. He does remain proud of his minor indiscretion as it “brought a bit of attention to the club’s crisis”. Lobbing toilet paper is as rough as Harry gets at the football, both despising how frequently “football fans get wrongly treated as fucking criminals” and lamenting how at that time “EDL was becoming a thing in the game as a prelude to Brexit with racial discrimination – I hated that element”.
As a teenager, it wasn’t long before Harry started to delve into the stylish world off the pitch and start flogging all sorts of vintage football paraphernalia between friends and flatmates. Harry describes his thrifty nature as “an addiction I just can’t stop. I just want to keep making Hartex bigger and better” and he’s done exactly that. Hartex has evolved into something more substantial than your average pop-up football t-shirt store that are ubiquitous throughout London. Harry describes his method as “cherry picking” as his sartorial finds permeate through music, American funrun tees, and anything that happens to catch his eye.
Harry told us that this no-stone-left-unturned strategy is “an important thing because people will always gravitate towards that confidence that you have in your stock” and this swagger is what has pushed him from the constraints of Depop to now having two store fronts in London. During lockdown Sims has once again had to rethink how he goes about business, finding that the “spontaneity and fun has been ripped out of a lot of things, so that’s something I’m trying to put back into the world with Hartex online”.
The highflying stakes of Elite European competitions are of no interest to Harry, minus Barcelona’s recently released third kit as he “loves anything pink because it always annoys the foulest of men and I think that’s very funny”. Indeed, his love for football is rooted in the intimacy of a non-league swear
up, suggesting the Premier League “needs more swearing, as long as it’s not racist, sexist, homophobic or anything like that”.
Harry has learnt a lot from football. He rounded off our conversation by comparing his outlook on the game with that of a lasagne: “You’ve got to plough through the pasta to get to the best part: the filling”. This sentiment echoes his approach to Hartex and indeed his own life: working hard to cherry pick the best of everything.
Photography: Savhanna Skillern