Well Suited: P. Johnson Tailors

Young Creative Director, Tom O’Connor, of the felix & slink group gives us the skinny on suiting, P. Johnson style.

You would have come across P. Johnson Tailors by now, most probably burning up your tumblr feed, delivering crispy menswear moments on the daily. I set out to get a suit made from the young professor of modern Australian menswear, and I received far more than a suit with my purchase.

The decision to get your first made-to-order bespoke suit can often be a scary one for many guys. Some may be intimidated by the idea of getting a custom-made suit. I can honestly say that once you’ve had a good tailoring experience the word Tarocash will no longer be required in your vocabulary (nor will the word ‘fire extinguisher’ when your three-piece polyester bursts into flames whilst standing next to a heater).

“We shouldn’t be looking for perfection, you need there to be things that are slightly imperfect to give it life. I like a bit of weirdness or ugliness, it acts as a contrast,” suggests Mr Johnson.

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Patrick seems to have the gift of knowing a lot about a person before he actually gets to know them, a crucial skill of a brilliant tailor. He has a wicked eye for cut and design, with a style that has developed from seven years in the UK melded with a penchant for Italian quirk and the Memphis art movement of the 1980’s.

Memphis Print Pochette
Memphis Print Pochette

For those of you wondering about the tailoring process, it happens with a series of appointments in which you first get measured up then select styles, fabrics and finishes and then you return for final fittings. My first appointment took place in a hotel suite at the Hilton – a little slice of P. Johnson charm in balmy downtown Brisbane. There in the suite was PJ and his right hand man Tom Riley. Tom remained modest as PJ cheered him as a key creative force behind the operation.

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PJ and Tom at Pitti Uomo

PJ and Tom spun around me with a measuring tape and an iPad, an appliance not often associated with the tailor’s tool kit. Together they began bouncing measurements and swapping vernacular back and forth, sometimes debating on what cuff length would suit me. They deliberated about how much room to leave in the seat. The ‘seat’ for those of you who don’t know is tailoring jargon for your backside. “You see, I have a rather big bum,” exclaimed PJ.

Around six weeks later a giant brown box arrived in the hands of a TNT deliveryman at my office. There suspended in the box and swaddled in P. Johnson Tailors wrapping was my new suit. The feeling is a bit like a gum commercial; fresh and tangy. I wasted no time in shredding off the tissue paper and gliding myself into my new monogramed kit. Totally unlined and sporty, it fit like a glove. In fact it didn’t even feel like I was wearing a suit, a key performance indicator for a company that is aiming to be one of the worlds best warm climate tailors.

“I think Australian men on the whole are pretty practical. They so often try not to follow a trend, they will go for a lighter weight construction because it’s hot, they will go for a softer shoulder because it’s a little more comfortable and flattering”.

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PJ HQ

I had the pleasure of spending time with PJ in his gentry Paddington showroom, a little burst of eclectic dandy in glossy Sydney watched over by his boisterous English bull dog named Hector. It’s akin to going over to your mates house, albeit a very well dressed mate. He is the kind of guy you could listen to all day. Knowledgeable, incredibly passionate, well travelled and bright as a tack. The man has single handedly restored my interest in menswear.

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Patrick and Hector

My new suit and I stopped by for a final fitting where he showed me how I could wear the suit in different ways. For something casual, PJ teamed my suit with a pair of fresh Jack Purcell’s and a papery dove grey spread collar left open.

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Patrick spoke at lengths about how Australia’s isolation impacts on men’s taste.

“Australian’s are very stylish as a whole, but our lifestyle and isolation do bare a little bit of laziness in dressing. I get a lot of clients who are really into it and then I get guys who dress like kids. They’ll wear cargo shorts and a t-shirt with the words ‘London Punk’ on it – and it’s like, what are you doing? Why would you dress like that?”

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It seems the trusty Internet has opened our lowly style deprived minds to the world of taste through the lens of Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman.

“I think street style photographers have been very influential, because they make you realize you can dress like the sixty-year old man in some little town in Italy, with a pink sweater over your shoulders; and it doesn’t mean you’re a poof. The isolation has been bad from that point of view.”

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PJ at Pitti

Showing the versatility of the navy suit, PJ sharpened it up with a white spread collar, black knitted tie and a mean pair of custom black brogues complete with navy laces.

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For a more colourful option PJ suggested a coral silk Drakes tie and a signature P. Johnson Ettore Print Pochette.

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Whether your roll neck’n in Pitti like PJ, smashing that deal at work or up all night to get lucky you can never go wrong with a classic navy suit with a modern spin. Whatever the pursuit P. Johnson Tailors will definitely have you well suited.

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Styling: Patrick Johnson
Photographer: Paul Hill @ Hype House (paul@hypehousephoto.com)
Hair: Ryan King @ Fruition Hair (http://www.fruitionhair.com.au/)

By appointment or by chance.

P. Johnson Tailors

Sydney
46 Liverpool Street
Paddington
+61 2 9966 7548 

Melbourne
29 Thomas St
Windsor
0488 207 240