Thom Sweeney jacket and trousers
12 March 2012
With most bespoke tailors worthy of the name, the quality of construction is pretty consistent. Everything worth the effort is done by hand: chest padding, inserting sleeves, sewing buttonholes. The French may double-sew their buttonholes; the Neapolitans may work their sleeves in under the shoulder; but in the end these are mostly questions of style rather than quality.
Quality is easy to analyse. It is much harder to find any objective parameters for style. And in the end, most men I know who have clothes made for them end up sticking with the tailor whose style they like. Geeky points of bespoke technique are only more important to men who haven’t much of it made. In the end, you have to feel you look good.
The difficulty of analysing style makes tailors that have it perennially interesting. Thom Sweeney (Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney) is one such tailor. Their horseshoe, single-breasted waistcoat is instantly recognisable. They cut jackets a little shorter (while still covering the rear), sleeves a lot narrower and cut away aggressively from the waist button. It could be considered trendy; but as with any of the truly stylish tailors, it is underpinned by a fundamental understanding of the benefits of traditional tailoring.
All of which is context for saying that I had this jacket and the corduroy trousers below made. The jacket is more aggressively styled than anything else I’ve had made bespoke. And I find that intriguing.
I can just feel the sleeve in the crook of my elbow when I bend my arm. But it is not uncomfortable. The back feels close, but not restrictive unless working at a desk all day (and many traditional tailors cut close here too – John Kent being one). The cut away, length and shape of the lapel I find subtle enough to be stylish without drawing attention to any one element.
Indeed, I think the most interesting thing about the style is the line achieved by a broad lapel (3.75 inches), a low buttoning point and a sharp cutaway. Regardless of the shape of the individual, this is flattering. Incorrect, perhaps, in some tailor’s eyes. But certainly attractive.
We did take a few attempts to get the sleeve length right. The house style shows a little more cuff than I would naturally. But that was fixed on the third fitting.
Just as important as cut, is cloth. Thom and Luke are the only tailors I know in London who have always stocked Cacciopoli bunches (and not just suitings, which have been distributed in England by other Italian distributors for a while). Cacciopoli has a wonderful range of cashmere jacketings with original colour combinations, and silk/wool/linen summer. This navy windowpane check is a Cacciopoli cashmere jacketing and I love it. Cacciopoli is not actually a mill, merely a seller of other manufacturers, but the range it puts together, particularly the cashmeres and summer mixes, is distinct from any English mill and most of what Zegna or Loro Piana sells here.
The trousers have been worn several times and, being corduroy, have quickly assumed their own, irregular shape. But the narrowness of the fit (verging on too slim) reins in that natural looseness. Plus, I like having them in grey – it escapes the old-country associations of the normal beiges and browns.
A good experience with a very stylish tailor. You can tell that from the décor, right?
Photography: Luke Carby