Walking into a Thom Sweeney shop, whether it be for a bespoke commission or a spot of ready-to-wear retail therapy, feels rather like a cross between entering into the coolest underground jazz lounge you've ever been to and a private members club who's intake consists exclusively of fashionable men who know how to layer properly. I say this because each shop is permanently filled with a cabal of dynamic, sharp-suited guys, all of whom are thoroughly well versed in the vagaries of contemporary tailored menswear. Whether it be the proprietors, Thom Whiddett and Luke Sweeney, Head Cutter Eithan Sweet, Head Coatmaker Julio Mompo or the talented front of house teams in both the house's London shops, one senses instantly that they are entering into a realm staffed by those who truly practise what they preach.
It is in the house's bespoke shop however, where this unique brand of contemporary British tailoring feels most beguiling. Having rung the bell and been shown in, one is greeted by a drinks cabinet (always a winner), with sophisticated fitting rooms, guarded by immaculately appointed mannequins off to the right. Walk through into the front of house proper and one is sat with a coffee or tipple at a light wooden table to discuss his commission and flick through swatches at leisure. Through an archway beyond is Mr Sweet's cutting bench, lined with bolts of cloth and with patterns askew. This vision of the immaculately tailored craftsman at work is the final assurance one needs to confirm that he's arrived at the right place and that he's in for the real bespoke deal.
But just what is said deal? What makes the Thom Sweeney suit such a coveted commission? Well, the attitude which informs its contemporary, comfortable design and construction for starters. Sweeney explains, "we've got our house cut, but we're open minded, its not our way or the highway. We come from a British tailor, but we enjoy mixing styles. One of our first clients worked round the back of Savile Row, but went to Italy to have his suits made. When he came to us, we asked him why and he said he didn't like the military looking cut of a lot of Savile Row houses, so we worked with him on a softer style with some Italian influences which met him in the middle." This combination of an inherently flexible, soft house style and an open-minded attitude has been key to the Thom Sweeney look ever since. As Head Cutter Eithan explains: "we have our own house style, but at the end of the day it's crucial as a bespoke tailor to be able to offer a service to anyone who wants to come in. To be able to discuss with your client what he wants, instead of telling him, is so important."