P. Johnson Tailors

This article has been a long time in the making. I’ve been meaning to properly cover P. Johnson Tailors for a long time now, but a mixture of other commissions and articles to be written from tailors and brands overseas meant that it’s taken me a lot longer to get to what is a great story which started in Australia but has successfully started making a mark overseas in the last couple of years.

P. Johnson tailors is Australian Patrick Johnson’s creation which has been building a strong following since 2008. The P. Johnson style has become easily recognisable, thanks to their specialisation in lightweight made-to-measure (MTM) suiting with a Neapolitan aesthetic (for the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure click this).

Having started in Sydney in 2008, the brand has now successfully expanded into the US (New York) and the UK (London) along with a busy calendar of trunk shows, relying on steady, organic growth, rather than large cash injections to speed things up. This slower approach to growth is much more difficult and time-consuming, but brands (and owners) that are able to show restraint and patience in their early years, while placing the quality of the product as their central focus, tend to build better longer term businesses which are more stable over time.

The continued growth has recently seen the acquisition of Sartoria Carrara in Tuscany (where all P. Johnson suits are made) which means Patrick now has complete control over the construction process and work-flow of everything they make, something few suit makers have and most would kill for.

Aesthetics: The brand has a very clear aesthetic, in terms of both its style of suiting and showroom fit-outs, which, as a brand, makes it easily recognisable, particularly against the back-drop of other MTM speciaslits which have risen in the years following P. Johnson’s inception. Their suits follow a contemporary Italian (primarily Neapolitan) silhouette, that being a higher waisted and tapered trouser with cuffs, minimal padding in the jacket and the prolific use of light-weight cloths. It’s a case of a quality, well-made product which is designed to fit well and not take itself too seriously, which is refreshing when set against other brands and their followers which take themselves so seriously it may as well be a blood-sport.

The showrooms (thanks to Patrick’s wife, who’s an interior designer) are unique in any tailoring environment I’ve been to so far. They’re bright spaces, with an abundance of natural light and a mixture of modern art and antique furniture. The Paddington showroom (a converted warehouse) is more pleasant than just about anywhere I’ve visited for TM, which sits in stark contrast to the dark, woody, clubby designs of most tailors. The clubby feeling is nice, in small doses, but it’s so much more enjoyable to hang out somewhere that there’s a great energy, brought about partly by so much natural light, good music and quirky art to look at. Interestingly, the two best feeling places I’ve visited over the years for TM are Anna Matuozzo’s atelier in Naples and the P. Johnson Paddington showroom. They’re both bright, airy and inviting and have both been designed by women. I doubt that’s a coincidence.

Accessories: Additionally, they carry a comprehensive range of accessories, ranging from superfine merino sweaters (from $295AUD) and the same in cotton ($170AUD) up to $495 for double breasted knitted cardigans, which I’m actually pretty keen to try next time I’m there. They also carry ties, a few other bits and pieces and MTM shirting to go with the suits.

Summary: Patrick deserves a lot of credit for what has so far taken 8 years to build, and it feels as if the brand has really found its stride and is gaining the recognition it deserves. There are now a range of MTM suiting options available in the market around the world, but Patrick was among the very first to identify the gap in the market and, through a carefully curated aesthetic and quality production, is managing to push through the boundary of niche manufacturer (in the sense that they’re often only known to menswear enthusiasts), to becoming known to the wider public as an exciting and quality brand in menswear.

I’m having a suit made at P. Johnson at the moment, so I’ll have the article up next week, covering the first stage of that process (along with pricing etc).

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