Need some new threads but don’t have the time, or inclination, to wait for the bespoke option? The arrival of two high-end tailors offers a suitable alternative
Two very different tailors have recently taken new postings in London, offering their own take on high-end, made-to-measure (MTM) suiting and separates.
As you may already know, MTM is the option between the two extremes of buying a suit or jacket straight off the hanger, which will rarely give you a flattering fit, and the full bespoke experience, with its myriad choices and demands on your time, money and attention. With MTM you choose your fabric, buttons and linings before your cloth is cut from a choice of house blocks or patterns, and tailored for you in key areas, such as the chest, waist, sleeve and trouser length.
Interestingly, while MTM used to be seen by some as merely an inferior version of bespoke, it feels like it has benefited from a quiet and considered revival in recent years. Top-quality tailors are now offering a well-finished and convenient product, with fastidious attention to the details that matter, such as a hand-stitched button hole and just the right amount of suppression or cinching at the waist. It’s perfect if what’s required is a light-weight, unstructured suit for an impromptu foreign trip, or some new jackets and a pair or two of trousers to pep up your smart-casual office wardrobe – which you might need turned around rather more quickly than the full bespoke process would allow.
The following two men epitomise this new school of tailoring. While different in style, both are relaxed and informal and both have airy, modern stores which make the fitting process a pleasure. Numerous measurements are taken and the client is led through the rather dazzling array of fabrics with patience and, importantly, considerable guidance; what you’ll need the clothes for, where you’ll be wearing them, and with what, are all taken into account. All you have to do is choose which of the two you’re going to visit first…
P Johnson Tailors
Patrick Johnson is Australian, a fact he feels is unusually important in terms of establishing a tailoring business. ‘Australia has no history of tailoring,’ he says. ‘We barely have a history of civilisation. So that means we’re free to learn from the best of what’s out there, combining the precision and craft of English tailoring with the softness and lightness of the Italian style, which works so well when travelling.’ Having studied here at Central St Martins and the London College of Fashion, Johnson worked on Jermyn Street with shirt-maker Robert Emmett, who exposed him to the world of Italian craftsmanship on trips to that country’s numerous workshops.
Having returned home to set up his own business, Johnson now has stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York, as well as his own workshop in Tuscany where the clothes are all made by hand. His business provides ‘custom’ tailoring, he says, though the Italian term ‘Su Misura’ (made to measure) is more accurate; ‘but as an Australian I’d sound pretentious calling it that.’ Jackets can come with a variety of different constructions, so you can choose, for example, from a roped, soft or shirt-sleeve shoulder with varying degrees of canvassing in the chest. The result is a nonchalantly elegant jacket that feels more like a cardigan when worn.
A slick pop-up store in Soho, selling beautifully made shirts and knitwear as well as tailoring, is proving that London is another good market. ‘Our customers range from young guys who might wear an unstructured jacket or Japanese-cotton suit over a T-shirt, to older guys who want a worsted-wool three-piece,’ says London store manager John Glass. ‘Soho is a perfect fit for us.’ So good in fact, that a permanent space nearby is being lined up as you read this. Suits from £1,200; pjt.com
With new premises on Marylebone’s Chiltern Street, bespoke tailors English Cut is beginning a rather interesting new chapter. Established back in 2001 when Anderson & Sheppard head cutter Tom Mahon (above) set up shop on his own, the business is based in Mahon’s native Cumbria, with local craftsmen handling production under the watchful eye of another A&S alumnus, head coat-maker Paul Griffiths, while Mahon travels globally to take orders from his numerous clients.
Having made suits for the Prince of Wales during his sojourn on Savile Row, Mahon’s credentials are impeccable. But it was his blog, an honest, unvarnished account of the tailoring trade that he began back in the early Noughties, long before blogs became ‘a thing’, which brought him to a wider audience, tripling his order book after it was featured in The Sunday Times.
The store sells a capsule ready-to-wear range as well as ties, bags and shoes, and serves as a London base for Mahon’s bespoke clientele. His new made-to-measure service, however, is manufactured to particularly high standards in Japan, where Mahon travels regularly to keep a watchful eye on proceedings.
There are three levels (or codes, as they’ve been styled), but Robb Report readers should look to the top tier, Code 3, which takes many of its cues from Mahon’s bespoke business – featuring limitless cloth choice from distinguished mills such as Hardy Minnis and Harrison, for example. And while the pattern used is English Cut’s softly tailored silhouette rather than an individual one, once the suit is returned from the factory, it’s hand finished after a second fitting in English Cut’s bespoke workshops to ensure the best possible fit.
Code 3 suits from £2,250; englishcut.com