PROCESS | The English Cut

P R O C E S S :


Words by Henry Sansom

Thomas Mahon is well known for having started the first ever blog on Savile Row tailoring and credits these initial writings for the success of his business – English Cut. Since falling into the trade by chance, he has gone from cutting his teeth at Anderson & Sheppard to cutting suits for Prince Charles.




He founded English Cut in 2001 and began writing his blog four years later. Late in 2016, Mahon made the leap from cyberspace to brick and mortar and opened his shop on Chiltern Street. We caught up with Tom in his new flagship store to ruminate on the sacred process – equal parts art and science – of creating a tailor-made suit.


STEP 1 :



The making of a great suit begins with a conversation. Over the course of this seemingly casual tête-à-tête, you and your tailor will be chiselling away – broadly, at first; minutely, at length – until you have narrowed down to preference and whim.


The first thing you are going to be asked is, “what problem are you here to solve?”


Walking into English Cut, you will have a fundamental cause for purchasing a new suit. Is it for a wedding? Is it for a funeral? Are you after an everyday work suit? A less formal weekender, perhaps? The distinction is important. If you’re looking for a day-to-day work suit, the garment should be understated so it doesn’t seem tried or over-worn. On the other hand, a suit for a special occasion gives you licence to be bold.

You may walk into English Cut with all sorts of fanciful dreams of pinstripes and cheques, but come to realise that suits don’t come equipped with a volume button and you’re going to look a little too loud for that funeral.

STEP 2 :



Once you have discussed the general functionality of the suit, Thomas Mahon (or whichever of his peers is tasked with its creation) will set about identifying the cloth for the garment. You will be asked another vital question: “where will you wear your suit?” The climate of the wearer will dictate the type and weight of the cloth used. Things like temperature and humidity both play a part in the identifying the cloth for your suit. You won’t be wearing a 13oz suit in Florida, but a mid-weight cloth would be useful to a London-based businessman all year round. Cloth weight is all important, so here is guide to put things in perspective for you:

7oz – 9oz: Lightweight – your typical summer suit. This weight is wonderfully breezy and smooth but less able to retain shape without a regular pressing. Due its delicate constitution, a lightweight cloth will not be as durable as a heavier material.

9.5oz – 11oz: Light to mid-weight – a weight for those fickle mid seasons (between spring and summer/late summer and autumn).

11oz – 12oz: Mid-weight – a versatile medium. This weight will cover you pretty much all year round; depending on where you’re based, of course. If you’re buying your first tailor-made suit, this is the weight you start at.

12oz – 13oz: Mid-weight, with a little more heft – again, you’ll wear this comfortably for most of the year, especially in colder countries. A 13oz may feel a little stuffy in the summer months, however.

14oz – 19oz: Heavy weight – a robust, winter fortress of a suit. This weight isn’t as popular due to its rigidity, but will retain its shape and condition like a suit of steel plate.

So, you’ve made clear what the suit is for and decided on its weight. By now, you should know whether you want a solid colour, pinstripe or cheque. With the aforementioned mind, you will be shown a suitable selection of cloths – around 20 of 20,000, with most tailors. The colour of the suit should be locked in at this stage, but there may be a couple of hues to you’re torn between. Each type of cloth has benefits and drawbacks, all of which will be explained and deliberated upon. Your decision here all depends on cut, environment and style – bringing us neatly onto step three.

STEP 3 :



Now comes the time to determine the style and cut of the suit. This is where the patrons of English Cut will offer their own characteristic input. There are many tailors who have ‘yes men’ in their employ; perfectly passive and willing to let you commit crimes of cloth so long as it hurries the process along. You need a tailor who is prepared to tweak your vision, say no or point blank refuse you if he deems it necessary. A worthy tailor, like any good craftsman or friend, must be honest in his art.


At this juncture, you will talk about lapels, pockets, buttons and flaps. As above, your initial predilections may not be in keeping with the rest of the suit or your body shape.


If a short, heavy set man walks into English Cut with his heart set on a double breasted jacket, Thomas Mahon and his colleagues are perfectly willing to offer heated and constructive debate. Likewise, when a spindly customer comes knocking, Mahon is on call to suggest the double breast and a cut to accentuate the shoulders, should that be the desired effect – of course, this all depends on what occasion the suit is for.

If you’re after a sports jacket to wear with jeans, the last thing you want is a one button coat with a peak lapel and no flaps.


“Insanity,” to quote Mahon. By the same token, you wouldn’t apply a garish cheque to such a cut.


Style is based on three things: Does it match the cloth? Does it suit the occasion? Does it compliment your body proportions?

STEP 4 :



This final stage varies wildly in detail and all depends on budget. A fully bespoke suit will require 20+ measurements and at least two re-fitting sessions for fine tuning. English Cut offers OTR (off the rail), traditionally bespoke and a rather unprecedented level of detail to its made to measure suits. Thomas Mahon has very much closed the gap between bespoke and made-to-measure suits with his sub-categorisation of the MTM option. He offers different levels of his made-to-measure service – with the options to customise and fine tune growing broader with each grade.






Fashion shoot:

Photography – Michal Pudelka
Creative Direction – Document Studios
Art Direction – Charlotte Heal
Styling – David St John-James

Still Life Images:

Photography – Dominic Davies
Creative Direction – Document Studios
Art Direction – Charlotte Heal

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