Patrick “Patch” Johnson is a sartorial sultan. Using materials from across the world, the owner of P. Johnson Tailor’s builds his clients custom suits that marry form with function. Below, Patch gives us a window into his world of tailoring.
Over eight and a half years in business, I haven't made the same suit twice. Suits are fundamentally about being cool. Men have to look attractive in suits. It has to have the element of sexiness.
We specialize predominantly in lightweight tailoring. We actually make the lightest weight suit in the world. Everything we do is custom, so we spend time with our clients earning about their lifestyle, their needs, looking at what shape they are, their complexion, whether they're fair haired, whether they're darker haired, where they live. We use all that information together with our clients to work out the best option for their wardrobe.
The world's changed a lot in the last hundred years, and especially in the last ten. Wearing a tie these days is quite a statement in itself, because the world's gone away from that formality. Tailoring needs to change with that. We have to push ourselves to be at the cutting edge of this change.
I love tradition in tailoring if it's right, if it fits the purpose. We have some amazing grenadine ties which were woven on a loom up in Cuomo in Italy from 1788. Handiwork gives a lot of life to a suit, but I think there's a great place for technology in tailoring right now. As long as its not at the expense of the end product that the customer's wearing on their back.
The most important thing in clothing: you need to wear clothes that look like you own them. You need to be comfortable in your clothing. It was Hardy Amies who had a pretty good turn of phrase very: "dressing well is about putting your clothes on with consideration and thought, and then forgetting about them all together.”
You cannot fuss over your clothing. Especially men. Suites form the backbone of most mens wardrobes. It’s the worst scene in the world when you fuss too much and try and strive for some perfection. If we were perfect we'd be walking around naked. We are imperfect and the clothing should not be perfect either.
Clothing is about having personality and function. If you want to create a look with personality, you have to do some bending of the rules or have some faults.
If someone is saying there's a rule to do this, a rule to do that, then that's just showing they're lacking imagination. You want something that's going to comfortable, that is one rule, it has to be comfortable. Something can't be luxurious if it's not comfortable.
I did my training in London. In the UK, there's this sort of snobbery around tailoring, a little bit of, ‘I'll tell you how it's done, I'm the tailor.’ I hate this. I detest this. This is bullying really and it's awful, pretentious. It’s something that's incredibly un-Australian.
The biggest influence for me is being Australian, having grown up in the country. Nature. We spend our whole lifetime outdoors.
Australians, specifically, and people on the coast, all look at color pretty similarly. You can tell a bit of art that's been done by an Australian that lives in Sydney straight away.
These contemporary artists are a really important influences for me. My wife and I, we collect a lot of art from Australian artists. We believe a lot in supporting these artists. It’s a long road from art school to the National Gallery.
One of the beauties of coming from Australia is that I'm a bit of a country bumpkin. I’m from the bottom of the earth, I'm not from the center of the world. So I used all these influences to form what I think is the best approach, to tailoring which is a very soft, supple, lightweight, but functional approach.
The key is to make these influences actually be applicable to your clients. Otherwise its just this esoteric line of thinking where you're trying to like, ‘Oh yeah, I'm going to get influenced by a chair and i'm going to make a tie.’ I mean, that's ridiculous you can't wear that tie.