P. Johnson Suit – First Fitting

Back up in Sydney a few weeks ago I had the first fitting of the grey two piece suit in VBC grey sharkskin wool (first article here) at P. Johnson.

Very happy with the cloth selection and it should handle just about everything the Australian and European Summer’s can throw at it (whenever a suit is required), weighing only 9 ounces and being light in colour. The subtle addition of a bit of black mixed in through the weave gives the suit a slight mottled effect which you won’t immediately notice, but it helps to subconsciously remove some of the formality which would otherwise exist if it were pure grey. Being sharkskin it has an inherently dry and crisp texture which I personally like the look and feel of (others don’t).

Starting with the trousers, the height is good, sitting at my natural waist, in a similar position to my Ambrosi’s, which I love and still wear all the time. The construction is simple and generally pretty clean. We’re going to increase the taper towards the cuffs, going from 19cm to 17.5cm which is more in line with the Italian aesthetic and my preference of a narrow leg opening with the cuffs resting just above the shoes.

This image (look in the mirror) shows the changes needing to be made; take the waist in, slim down the legs, taper the leg opening and clean up the fly so it sits cleanly (flat).

They’ll also take some cloth through the length of the legs to make them a bit slimmer overall.

The main area for attention is the waist. There’s a lot of room here and it needs to be taken in by several centimetres. A couple or a few centimetres is to be expected, particularly on a first fitting for a new client (better to be a little loose and to pin exactly how much to take in, than too tight and unable to tell how much to let out) but once you start to get beyond a few centimetres, there’s a chance that no amount of alterations can save a piece of clothing, because the fundamentals (i.e. the cut) will be to far off. For example, you can only take out so much from the waistband before that tension then pulls on the front pockets and causes them to bag out (press outwards, creating the appearance of wider hips/thighs and ruining a clean line down the sides), so then you have to open up the hip seam to remove some cloth from there, but how much do you take? If you are forced to take a lot in at the waist but then don’t take in enough through the seat, there’s the risk of excess cloth in the seat. To fix that, you then have to take it in at the seat (the centre seam below your spine). Take that in too much at the centre seam and the rear pockets are pulled too far inwards which looks odd. And on and on.

That’s not to say that I think it will necessarily happen to these trousers, if Matt can manage the adjustments carefully then they might still be fine, but it will take some skill to manage all the potential pitfalls that can be created by the adjustments.

The other point which I didn’t notice at first but I’ve seen since looking at the photo’s is that the fly doesn’t sit cleanly. Meaning that the fastening button on the waistband hasn’t been sewn quite far enough away from the fly to pull the fly shut cleanly. I don’t think any of us picked that up so it might need to be fixed after the trousers are finished.

The fly, pressing out, away from the body.

The jacket sits fairly well across the shoulders and nicely against the neck. Sleeve length is good and the overall balance is good, too. I’d also prefer a straighter lapel line, compared to the accentuated outward curve of this jacket.

 

There’s some extra room in a few places, namely the back and waist, so between Porter and Matt they pinned these areas to sit more closely against the body. At the buttoning position the jacket tended to sit away from the body a bit, so bringing in the waist and back should help to pull front of the jacket closer in.

Jacket sitting off the body at the front (making me look about 10 kilo’s heavier).

Button position is a bit high, though, and should probably have been a couple of centimetres lower but there’s nothing to be done about that as once the button hole is cut it can’t be moved. Whilst on the topic of buttons, the Milanese buttonhole on the lapel has been done very well and the handwork here is impressive for a jacket in this price range. I’ll include a better image of it in the final article.

I also suggested slimming down the back of the sleeve. For me there was too much excess cloth there. Porter was pretty keen to have it left as is, in order to give me plenty of room when reaching forwards, so I agreed to leave it untouched. We’ll see how that works out after a few weeks of wear but in hindsight I think I should have requested that they be further slimmed down. We’ll see how that goes.

Next article up in a few weeks once the suit’s ready and I’ve had time to wear it in.

Andrew is an Australian born writer, covering the world's leading bespoke tailors and craftspeople in menswear, with a focus on authentic quality, over branding. He spends most of his days running his successful (god knows how) consulting company and travels frequently to Europe for work and writing. He's a passionate cyclist, former trainee professional golfer and lover of all things Cocker Spaniel. He's married to his best friend and significantly better half, Mehri.

8 Comments

  • Reply September 22, 2017

    Michael

    Great article Andrew.
    What were the shoulder options they had available?
    Is there pad stitching in the lapel? What degree of handwork is optional/standard on the jacket and trousers?
    I’m surprised they got the buttonhole height incorrect for a single button suit – can the style of the jacket be corrected by opening the quarters to give the illusion that it sits lower?

    • Reply October 20, 2017

      Andrew Doyle

      Hey Michael. Here’s the info from P. Johnson.
      5 shoulder options: Unpadded shirt shoulder, a soft shoulder with about 2mm of padding, the same soft shoulder with a slight rollino, a more traditional shoulder with about 4mm or padding and a newly added firm shoulder with rollino.
      The lapel and collar are always hand finished, buttonholes are more often than not done by hand unless specified otherwise to cut price for the client. The blind stitches are also done by hand.

      Some hand work is done on the trousers such as some curtailing, button attachments, side adjusters and the buttonholes are an optional finishing. Most major seams on the trouser are finished by machine for strength.

  • Reply September 22, 2017

    T

    Andrew, thanks for the write up – great to see you trying makers from a slightly more accessible price point from traditional bespoke!

    If you haven’t already, it’s worth having a read through Simon of Permanent Style’s review of PJT. Fair bit of honesty in the comments section about the way PJT staff are trained to push clients into not having necessary alterations done on poorly fitting garments. It seems like they were off the mark with the majority of your measurements here and have tried to brush it off?

    Looking forward to the next fitting update.

    • Reply September 26, 2017

      Andrew Doyle

      Just had a look through the comments in Simon’s article and yes, looks like quite a few unhappy customers.
      I haven’t felt like I’ve been brushed off and Porter was the one who said the button position has to come down for any future jackets for me. Still, for such a significant component of aesthetics and fit, the preference is that is was lower to begin with. Porter also followed up afterwards to insist that I let them know of any issues, if any, so they could fix them. I’m not sure if this is standard P. Johnson practice though, others readers can possibly comment below if their experience has differed.
      The approach to fit has been very casual, which is in fitting with the relaxed atmosphere the brand is known for. For me, I like the atmosphere and feel of the showrooms but I think the brand as a whole would benefit from more seriousness and focus on nailing initial measurements and subsequent fittings more precisely.

      • Reply September 30, 2017

        James

        Ideally, I’d think that they should re-make the jacket for you. As you’ve pointed out, the buttoning point is too high, and that simply can’t be fixed without re-making the jacket. After all, if you tried on a jacket in a store and the buttoning point was too high, would you buy it? No, you wouldn’t – so why should you pay for something inferior when it is actually made specifically for you?

        I also think that the too-high buttoning point is at least partly to blame for the way that the bottom of the front of the jacket pushes forward. To fix the problem, P.Johnson proposed taking in the jacket at the sides and back. This will have the effect of pulling the front of the jacket backwards, thus hopefully fixing the issue, but it will also make the jacket quite a bit slimmer, which means that it may actually not fit so well. I’m no tailor, but I think that the better way would be to take in some fabric in the front darts and side seams, rather than the side seams and the back, as that should help to fix the pitch of the front without slimming the jacket too much. However, as I said, I think that the jacket should be re-made with a lower buttoning point and that should help to fix the balance issues, too.

      • Reply October 6, 2017

        Anon

        Not sure about all the complaints but despite all the angry comments I saw on Simon’s article, I went ahead to get my suit done. I had mine done over in Melbourne and my measurements were taken by Tom. Having read this article before receiving my first PJT suit I was pretty worried, specifically with the button stance which creates the awkward triangle of shirt showing. Come the first fitting, I find pretty much everything was close to perfection. The sleeves were great, the button was very close to the waist of my trousers which is pretty low, and the jacket was not too short as mentioned too. The only thing needed fixing was the seat which had to be slightly let out. Overall I had a wonderful experience, nothing close to what the angry comments on Simon’s post were.

  • Reply September 23, 2017

    Wen

    Awesome review Andrew!

    What’s the rule of thumb for where the jacket button should sit? I’m presuming it depends on your body shape, but would you say its the widest/furthest point of your belly?

    Cheers!

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