As promised, here is a more thorough version, more elaborate on each house and with more photos, of our London escapade, which was the subject of a feature article in the last edition of Dandy Magazine under the title “The London adventure of a Parisian Gentleman”.
Today, to get back on this 5-piece series, we are putting the spotlight on the young house of Thom Sweeney, located in Mayfair a few stone throws away from the Row, at the corner of Gilbert and Weighouse Streets, where I ventured with my very talented partner in crime Andy Barnham, one of the Rake’s favourite photographers, to discover a label that is generating more and more interest.
And then, right from the start, used as I was to the dim and slightly timeless atmosphere of bespoke salons, I was stunned. Indeed, as I stepped through the door of this young house whose premises immediately convey a subtle mix of traditional savoir faire and much more contemporary design, I saw a crowd of young, even very young, people avidly listening and taking notes on an impromptu conference given by one of the cutters of the house.
I was hit with the sudden realization of a fact I knew nothing about, and that had just shattered a very widespread idea I had, namely, that the main problem in transmitting the tailoring art to the next generation was its lack of interest in a craft of yesteryear, that I (erroneously, obviously) believed it considered as obsolete.
Indeed, a class of third year students of the London College of Fashion (who by the way are preparing a small so called “capsule” collection inspired by the work of Thom Sweeney), obviously engrossed in what they were listening to and studying, proved that, in London at least, that stereotype did not reflect reality.
This eye-opening conclusion was going to prove itself true time and time again throughout my ulterior visits to Anderson & Sheppard and Huntsman, where the average age of tailors, sewers and the likes has undeniably decreased.
Then, I had the pleasure of having a long conversation with the owners themselves: the very young and engaging Thom Whiddett and Luke Sweeney, both trained by Timothy Everest and very well-spoken on their label and philosophy: to create a bold mix, much more modern, even decidedly trendy in some aspects, of traditional tailoring skill and a certain “flair” (their word)...
To materialize their vision, the young men have no qualms about making some changes (in all aspects) by collaborating on showing their collections with pure designers like Kim Jones and Matthew Williamson. In doing so, they shamelessly cross a bespoke Rubicon: the creation of seasonal look books, unimaginable, even just a few years ago, in the very conservative world of British tailoring.
All photos above © Andy Barnham for Parisian Gentleman
Even if I am not personally a huge fan of this particular approach to fashion trends, I must admit to falling for the charm of such a fresh discourse (that they fully endorse) and of the few tailor pieces that I closely inspected during my visit. This hybrid approach gives way to well-made suits, with very well fitted lines, a rather structured shoulder work and an undeniable quest for discreet uniqueness on all pieces made by this upcoming label. Thom Sweeney also offers a more affordable made to measure line, with no compromise on good quality, which is attracting a younger clientele, more in tune with the times.
Thom Sweeney is an unusual house and we will make sure to follow its progress. Our visit was, in the end, a good surprise, especially with their fair prices: starting at £900 in made to measure and at £ 2,000 in bespoke for a two piece suit.
A new house to follow very closely, without any compromise of course, but very closely...