P. Johnson: An Australian Accent on Italian Tradition

 

Perched on the airy second floor of a handsome SoHo loft, the New York showroom of the Australian-based menswear brand P. Johnson offers a sunny new take on an old tradition: fine tailoring. Like the clothing itself, the space is easy, uncluttered, and seemingly carefree, yet meticulously put together: bright white walls, wood-beamed ceilings, comfy sofas, and the soft give of sisal carpeting at your feet. Just by walking in, you feel like you’ve taken a load off—and that’s before a refreshing Negroni has been mixed and served as you browse the racks of hanging suits or the rows of folded plush sweaters and accessories.

The road from Australia to New York began back in 2008 with a simple goal by Patrick Johnson, the brand’s founder: to help men dress better by providing them with the best items from around the world. Johnson had a vision for clothing that not only fit but that was also a joy to wear; he endeavored to offer a kind of tailoring he couldn’t quite find for himself—soft, flattering, beautiful, and with a focus on value. For him, everything was either too stiff, too heavy, or unflattering. He believed no one was making tailored clothing that met the needs of today’s world. And so a brand was born.

Established in Sydney and now with showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne, New York, and London, P. Johnson creates elegant and versatile wardrobes. Ask any man being fitted in the showroom, and he’ll tell you a P. Johnson suit is a new staple of modern luxury: lightweight, supple, and constructed in the artisanal Italian manner to ensure a soft and flexible feel every time it touches the body.

Johnson’s appreciation for craftsmanship began early on. “In my late teens,” he tells me, “I was halfway through a science degree and started playing around with a mate, making a few pieces. We would go through all of the local vintage stores and Frankenstein looks together, essentially playing dress-up.” He was drawn to American styles of the Ivy League and ’70s sportswear. “It was lots of fun and we kept it up,” eventually starting P. Johnson. “Today, that mate—Tom Riley—and I still work together.”

The majority of P. Johnson’s tailoring is crafted in its Tuscan atelier, Sartoria Carrara, based in the marble-forged landscape of the Apuan Alps in Tuscany, an area with a rich history in sartorial craftsmanship. Nearly three years ago, Johnson and his team invested in a workshop they had already been working with to create something new—a place where they could experiment and learn. When they started, the workshop employed 12 people who dealt mostly with small Italian and British tailors. Today, they employ over 50 people who are bringing the P. Johnson vision to the world, stitch by stitch.

Slip on a P. Johnson jacket, and you feel like you’re putting on an old favorite that’s fit perfectly for years. They are known for their comfort and understated design, which focuses on pure, minimal lines. The cloth’s character is brought to life through the use of traditional pad-stitched floating-canvas chest bastes, and each is finished with hand-worked pick stitching and buttonholes. Johnson likes to say that you should wear a suit the same way you would pajamas—unconsciously—and the craftsmanship helps to this end.

In addition to suiting, P. Johnson offers made-to-measure shirts in endless combinations of color, drape, and texture. The ready-to-wear and accessories are just as finely edited and sleek, with a hint of whimsy or pattern here and there. Ties, shoes, swimwear, jewelry, and fine knits and outerwear are modern basics done just right. The variety is inspired in part by Johnson’s own dressing habits. “I love layering,” he says. “I like to mix different elements from my wardrobe together—fine tailoring with sportswear, outerwear, and not to mention knitwear. Lots of fun.” But if he had to pick one favorite from the label’s latest offering for fall? “Our s160 merino varsity jacket. It’s incredible.” u