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A Poor Man's Millions in conversation with John Cutler

As the figurehead of 130 years of dynastic tailoring, Sydney's John Cutler at J.H. Cutler Bespoke Taylor & Shirtmaker is without doubt the foremost expert on bespoke tailoring here in Australia. On the eve of his trip to Melbourne to present as a guest speaker at the Makers of Melbourne Style Forum (presented as part of this 2014 VAMFF cultural program), Mr Cutler took some time out of his busy schedule to talk tailoring with A Poor Man's Millions. 

Hi John, could I start of by asking you to reveal a little bit about the colours, patterns and fabrics that you are working with at the moment?

I make for a great variety of types of clients. The more conservative still stick with the navy blue, black and mid to dark grey. Those who are more adventuresome are into brown, lighter blue and linen in taupe, slater grey and blue. Plain colours are strong – not so many stripes as last year – and checks are also interesting, subtle checks. I am very into natural fibres: wool, silk, linen, cotton and (on the far end of the spectrum) many luxurious fibres such as Vicuna and cashmere.

Suit linings are increasingly becoming a way of expressing personality: are there any companies in particular you are working with on these?

I am buying some linings from Business Punks out of Germany. They engage European artists to design extraordinary concepts (through) graffiti. Images of people like Cobain, Hendrix and Amy Winehouse. I am also printing my own silk linings from high-resolution images from my new book, 'Making the Cut'. It’s a beautiful documentation of 130 years of passion in bespoke tailoring.

What is the attraction to the art of tailoring for you?

It is very personal and satisfies my longing for an artistic expression. It is wonderful to be able to turn peoples’ dreams into realities. With bespoke one is only limited by the imagination, I love working with
individuals to produce the attire in which they face the world.

To what do you attribute a renewed interest in bespoke tailoring
among a younger clientele?

The new interest has to do with the exposure of clothing ideas as presented in movies, magazines and, in particular, social media. Men are seeking a garment that exudes quality and allows them to express their individuality.

If there was one or two pieces of advice you could dispense when it comes to having a suit tailored, what would it be?

Be sure that the tailor can adequately understand your commission and is relaxed and excited with the concept. Ask to see the workroom and meet the tailors who are going to make the garments. A personal relationship is paramount in bespoke. I have some clients who watch me cut their patterns and then sit in the workroom and watch each stitch that goes into the creation of their clothing.

Fashion Maketh The Man, presented by Makers of Melbourne and Beggar Man Thief.

As part of this year's Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Makers of Melbourne in collaboration with Beggar Man Thief will be holding a panel discussion, Fashion Maketh the Man. For 90-minutes on Tuesday, March 11, some of the biggest names in men's fashion will gather at ACMI to dissect how history, culture and social change influences men's style. Listen to Sydney uber tailor John Cutler, Grenson CEO Tim Little, stylist Philip Boon, author Meg Lukens Noonan, founder of Honour Amongst Thieves Roy Christou and NGV curator International Fashion & Textiles Roger Leong - among others.

Champagne on arrival. Tickets are $25, limited to 70 seats. Arrival at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Contact Sarina Lewis on 0488 088 290 or email sarina@beggarmanthief.com.au.

With thanks to St Ali, The Blackman Hotel, Broadsheet, ACMI and VAMFF.

Images courtesy of Richard Weinstein