Meet the tailor - Thom Sweeney

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While Thom Sweeney is undoubtedly a modern tailoring house be reassured that its bespoke suits (they also offer a made-to-measure service) are put together the old fashioned way. What makes it modern is that Luke Sweeney and Thom Whiddett, the eponymous founders, understand the way men live in 2010, have an eye on the fashion scene (so can keep their clients looking contemporary) and are au fait with the concept of customer service.

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Sweeney and Whiddett met when they both worked for Timothy Everest. “I went to Tim’s at 19, straight from school,” remembers Whiddett. “I read a piece in Esquire about tailoring that featured Timothy, and I ended up doing an apprenticeship there.”  Having subsequently set up on their own they offer an all-too-rare mix of traditional construction techniques and an updated British aesthetic.

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From their Mayfair shop, which is in an elegant old art gallery, Whiddett and Sweeney are almost uniquely well placed to see how the capital’s smartest men are dressing these days. With a clientele that’s made up of the local hedge fund crowd, but takes in rock stars like Bobby Gillespie as well as the fashion world (Matthew Williamson is a client) Thom Sweeney’s order book bulges with the names of men who are going places. And, reassuringly, they seem to going places dressed in a suit. “These days the only guys who don’t wear a suit to eat dinner in a restaurant are guys who’s suits don’t fit,” says Luke. “If you have a nice suit in the wardrobe you want to wear it,” he rationalises.

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If the shop’s younger clients haven’t all had the time to develop a great sensitivity to the intricacies of bespoke tailoring, that’s where Whiddett and Sweeney are able to distinguish themselves. There are quite a few tailors in London able to make a beautiful suit to a customer’s exacting specifications, but very few who one could trust to come up with those specifications. The enviably well dressed Whiddett and Sweeney are their own best advert, which is why their clients trust them to act as fashion designers as well as tailors. Sweeny explains, “Most of the time it’s pretty much down to us. We sit down and talk about a customer’s lifestyle to work out what he’ll find comfortable.” For men with the money this is an incredible service – it’s like having a personal fashion designer as well as a tailor.

In tailoring terms clothes Whiddett and Sweeney are pretty flexible about their house cut, although the default setting is a flattering waisted jacket, fairly soft but roped shoulders and minimal canvassing. The last of these affects the feel as much as the look of a jacket, because it’s traditional heavy canvassing that makes coats heavy and constraining. That said if a client wants very structured shoulders, or to radically change the house silhouette, it can be done – when Thom Sweeney made stage clothes for Mika they went far beyond Savile Row norms. However, inspired by the restrained outfits of fashion icons like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Steve McQueen Sweeney and Whiddett believe that less is more, “My favourite outfit is a navy blue suit with a white shirt,” says Sweeney.

Of course, while a man might start by ordering one blue suit things can escalate; Whiddett picks out a sports jacket in a cream and brown gingham check and says of the customer, “He’s crazy this guy, we’ve made him about a hundred suits in the last couple of years. He’s got a room at home just for his clothes.”  The message is clear - approach Thom Sweeney with caution, you might find its tailoring addictive.

Bespoke from £1,895, 1-2 Weighhouse Street, London W1K 5LR 020 7629 6220 - www.thomsweeney.co.uk

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