Pa­trick John­son

GQ (Australia) - - NEWS -

“Grow­ing up in South Aus­tralia, you either be­come a doc­tor, a lawyer or a wine­maker,” says Pa­trick John­son. “I’m chron­i­cally dyslexic so wine­maker it was.” That was un­til a freak chem­i­cal ac­ci­dent while work­ing at a vine­yard led to sul­phur diox­ide poi­son­ing and a change of ca­reer path. You might think there wouldn’t be a great deal of com­mon ground be­tween mak­ing wine and mak­ing suits. But both re­quire a sim­i­lar sen­si­bil­ity: an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of qual­ity and an un­der­stand­ing of a nu­ance. And both ap­peal to those who en­joy life’s fner things. In a sense, John­son was born to it. He grew up on a 4000-hectare sheep farm near Ade­laide and has a nat­u­ral feel for merino wool – so much so that ear­lier this year he won the Aus­tralian Wool­mark Prize for his in­no­va­tion with the fab­ric. Dur­ing the past eight years, P John­son Tailors has de­vel­oped its own sig­na­ture style of suit­ing which is softer, lighter and more com­fort­able than most Bri­tish or Ital­ian con­struc­tions. In do­ing so, John­son has ar­guably cre­ated ‘Aus­tralian tai­lor­ing’ – a term that un­til re­cently might have been con­sid­ered a laugh­able oxy­moron. Hav­ing es­tab­lished a suc­cess­ful busi­ness in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne (in­clud­ing suit­shop. com.au, his sep­a­rate ven­ture for en­try-level tai­lor­ing) this year John­son, now 34, set up shop in New York. Which is where GQ caught up with him. GQ: Where does your in­ter­est in tai­lor­ing come from? Pa­trick John­son: My step­fa­ther was a fan­tas­tic dresser. His dress­ing room was like some­thing out of The Great Gatsby – every­thing per­fect. I’d sneak in and move a shoe and he’d come down an hour later and say, ‘Who’s been in my dress­ing room?’ GQ: How did you get started?

PJ: I was study­ing at Cen­tral Saint Martins [fash­ion col­lege] in Lon­don, work­ing three jobs to af­ford it. I was lit­er­ally on my way to ap­ply for a job in a pub and walked past

this shirt shop. I stopped and a guy just started talk­ing to me. He turned out to be [Jermyn Street] tai­lor Robert Em­mett and I ended up work­ing with him for seven years as an ap­pren­tice. GQ: Was it al­ways the plan to set up a tai­lor­ing com­pany in Aus­tralia? PJ: I met Tam­sin, my now wife, in Lon­don and it got to the point where her visa was run­ning out and she had to go back to Aus­tralia. I thought, ‘I re­ally like this girl but is it pos­si­ble to be a tai­lor in Aus­tralia?’ GQ: Clearly it is.

PJ: It’s ac­tu­ally been an ad­van­tage. Firstly, we pro­duce the best merino wool in the world. Se­condly, we un­der­stand we’re not at the cen­tre of the world in terms of tai­lor­ing so we’re able to take in all th­ese in­flu­ences from Bri­tain, Italy and Ja­pan to cre­ate some­thing that is ap­pro­pri­ate for our cli­mate. GQ: What are you like to work for? PJ: This al­ways sounds weird when I tell peo­ple, a bit culty, but ev­ery­one who works for us med­i­tates twice a day. If you’ve been with us for a year we pay for the course. As a boss, if I can make you a lit­tle bit more re­laxed, why not? If you cre­ate a happy en­vi­ron­ment with all the peo­ple that work with you then it comes off to the clients. GQ: How else does your ap­proach dif­fer?

PJ: Get­ting a suit made shouldn’t be an in­tim­i­dat­ing process. I don’t like snob­bery. My wife is an in­te­rior de­signer and we make our show­rooms com­fort­able spa­ces: just chill out, have a cof­fee, talk a bit and see if we’re on the same page. It’s a very Aus­tralian ap­proach to do­ing things. GQ: So it’s not a hard sell. PJ: We ac­tively dis­cour­age guys from buy­ing more than one suit at a time. Some guys come in and go ‘I want 10 suits’ and that’s mad­ness. Like, ‘Come on mate, let’s en­joy this process.’ One thing I learnt from Rob was not to be in a rush – have pa­tience, take your time and al­ways give your best. Our fo­cus is on be­ing the best, not the big­gest. n

“WE MAKE OUR SHOW­ROOMS COM­FORT­ABLE SPA­CES: JUST CHILL OUT, HAVE A COF­FEE, TALK A BIT. IT’S A VERY AUS­TRALIAN AP­PROACH.”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAVID URBANKE WORDS DAN ROOK­WOOD

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