Four studio albums, a collection of poetry and two Commonwealth Games medals for swimming – Cody Simpson’s range and trajectory are unmatched. And while the transition from international pop star to full-time athlete was certainly a point of contention, especially for longtime fans of his music, trusting his gut has so far, proven to be the best strategy.
Swapping his guitar for goggles, for the time being, the 25-year-old (after releasing his fourth studio album in April this year) has since turned to fashion to fill his cup, creatively.
Enter: Prince Neptune: The Label, a range of elevated unisex essentials with sustainability at the core of the brand – ‘fashion label founder’ as the latest addition to the musician and champion swimmer’s ever-expanding resume.
Close to his heart, the moniker of Prince Neptune (also the title of his collection of poetry and prose released in 2020), evolved from growing up in Australia, his love for the ocean, and a deep fascination with Greek and Roman mythology.
“It was almost this alter ego, alias scenario and I had the Trident symbol designed around that time,” he tells Centennial Beauty. “I was going to release the book under the Prince Neptune alias,” he explains, but his publishing company had other ideas. The end result was a compromise, the book was titled Prince Neptune but released under Cody’s name. When it came to his shift to fashion, the decision felt natural. “I suppose [it’s] almost like an entrepreneurial ambition,” he says of the soon-to-be-released label. “[I wanted] to branch out and develop the Prince Neptune brand and the Trident logo as part of what I do and my identity,” he says. “To take this [concept] and grow it into something multifaceted and more diverse. My mind immediately went to clothing.”
With chart-topping albums, tours alongside Justin Bieber, and several high-profile relationships over the years, Cody is no stranger to the spotlight. And with so much time spent in A-list circles across the fashion and music industries, inspiration has been in no short supply. On solidifying the idea for Prince Neptune, Cody explains, “I’d started working in fashion and high fashion particularly around that time,” he says. “And was meeting different designers and learning a lot more about the industry itself. I was inspired quite heavily in an artistic sense…Once I sort of became familiar with how it works…I just thought it would be really cool to do something like that myself.”
“From a design standpoint,” he tells Centennial Beauty, “I identify a lot with different fashion designers…Ralph Lauren [is someone] that I study and love very, very much, because he just incorporates everything he likes into clothing, and has the most beautiful diverse brand. Obviously, it is one of the largest [brands] in the world at this point…but I think he just does what interests him and his love for Americana, horses, cars…that all comes through in the clothing. For me, I want to build a brand that does the same thing…I can share everything I like in a sense.”
A sentiment that rings particularly true given the diversity of his past lives. Prince Neptune: The Label has become an opportunity to combine his creative and athletic pursuits – launching with a capsule collection made up of t-shirts, hoodies, sweats, and shorts, but showcasing Cody’s minimalist, laidback aesthetic.
Of the initial pivot from music to swimming, one may have expected public interest to subside. For Cody, however, this was not the case. “Since I’ve been swimming, I’ve found it kind of ironic. I didn’t feel it was something that people cared about as much and I was prepared to go a little bit MIA while I was training, but if anything, I’ve been recognised more since becoming a swimmer,” he tells Centennial Beauty. And while it may speak more broadly to his public appeal, it has also confirmed to Cody that he’s on the right path. “I gave up so much to swim but it ended up turning out to be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. So now, I just like to listen to my thoughts, you know? It confirmed that I should always listen to my gut,” he says.
Thanks to Cody’s unexpected (but not unwelcome) rising star since his forway into swimming, the founder now boasts over 4.6 million followers on Instagram. Though a built-in audience certainly helps get new projects off the ground, Cody says his relationship with platforms like Instagram has definitely evolved, especially in comparison to his formative years in Los Angeles while he was pursuing music.
“Growing up, I had managers that were so concerned about it as a tool, which is understandable if you’re building a career, but I think now, especially being heavily swimming focused, I don’t put as much of a stress on it in my own life,” he says. “I’ll delete it for a few weeks, you know? If I’m going into a competition…But just using it more now to share projects and things I’m passionate about and working on, such as [Prince Neptune: The Label] and the album I released earlier this year.”
And while swimming is his focus for the coming years, Cody says his priority is finding balance between his passions. “I just try to keep a healthy approach towards it all and find as much of a balance as I can…I love that I have [Prince Neptune] and my music to allow me outlets, creatively and business wise…it’s important to have other things you’re passionate about,” he finishes.
Prince Neptune: The Label is available from 5pm AEST, 23rd August 2022. Shop the collection here.