NEW YORK, United States — Thom Sweeney — the British tailoring brand based in London's Mayfair — is opening its first store in Soho, New York. The shop, which marks the label’s first venture outside of the UK, will incorporate the brand’s bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear businesses. It opens on November 29.
“It feels like a natural progression to open a space in New York where we have a nice following of around 200 clients [for bespoke and made-to-measure],” says the brand's co-founder Luke Sweeney. “Instead of doing trunk shows out of hotel suites, we will create retail space that will hold [bespoke] appointments every 8 weeks.”
Founded by Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney in 2007, the brand rose to acclaim through their casual and contemporary interpretation of the formal suit, utilising Savile Row techniques but introducing lighter fabrics, tighter fits and cropped cuts to garments. “At the time, tailoring wasn’t considered cool and was seen as a corporate, stuffy business,” says Sweeney. The duo, who met while working together for the British tailor Timothy Everest, opened their first store on Weighhouse Street in 2009, followed by a second London outpost on Bruton Street in 2014.
Thom Sweeney has arguably always gone against the grain: the brand does not have presence on Savile Row, and — unlike most Savile Row tailors — launched ready-to-wear as a means of growing the business. Bespoke is a time-consuming and costly purchase, and ready-to-wear allows the brand to harness the interest of new customers that would not otherwise choose bespoke.
“We just wanted to dress guys for the weekend and not just from Monday to Friday," says Sweeney of the collection that includes cashmere sweaters, cotton chino trousers and driving loafers. “It’s very difficult to scale a bespoke business because we can only make so many jackets and trousers… Ready-to-wear is where the growth is for us.” The collection launched in 2013 with Mr Porter, and has since opened new retail doors for the label, including Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges and Isetan. “Ready-to-wear just enhances everything,” adds Whiddet.
Its new New York store will give the brand increased exposure in the States, where the menswear market has finally embraced the more contemporary tailoring aesthetic, according to Sweeney. “When we first started growing, it was a case for the Wall Street guy with the braces, pinned-striped suits and blue shirts. Guys now are really in tune with what’s going on,” says Sweeney. Whiddet agrees: “The guys there are much more open to European style now.”
The Soho outpost will enable the brand to test the waters for further global expansion. “If New York does well we might open something else in the States and after that maybe Asia, our growth is based on good results,” says Sweeney.