Patrick Johnson’s eponymous menswear label, P Johnson Tailors, is known for its uniquely Australian suiting. The house style takes its cue from the Italian school – soft, supple, lightweight tailoring – but with a particular lightness and freshness that’s in tune with the Australian environment and lifestyle.
Over the years Johnson has added knitwear, leisurewear (think drawstring trousers, utility vests and tees) and accessories to his made-to-measure collection, and last year he launched womenswear with Femme.
The latest addition to the P Johnson universe is a new line of sweats in grey or navy. You can mix and match the tracksuit pants ($275) with a crewneck sweater ($265) or hoodie ($275), or buy each solo. The pieces are made in Canada with a medium-weight French cotton terry that will get better with wear, and each item is finished in Sydney with an embroidered P Johnson logo.
The bad news? The sweats sold out completely within twenty minutes of launching in mid-June. The good news? They’ll be in stock again in July.
We spoke with Johnson about the new line, what makes the ultimate tracksuit, and tips for wearing them.
Broadsheet: Tell us about the new sweats collection. When and why did you decide to make them?
Patrick Johnson: I’ve always felt strongly about building a wardrobe that is made of very pure garments with a classical strength to them. I’ve never been a fan of ‘ath-leisure’ and its hybridised feel – I wanted that feeling of a genuine set of ‘sweats’ that look really fit for purpose and work in their role.
What was most important to you from a design perspective, in terms of cut, comfort and ease of wear? Which elements were non-negotiable?
For the cut I wanted a relaxed and more classical silhouette. The fabric had to be right. They’re made with 100 per cent cotton – about 400 grams. So, full-bodied. I like that heavy reverse French terry that gets better with age – really bulky and rich. There are only a handful of knitting mills that still make this classic quality. The ribbed side panel on the hoodie and the crew neck is really important for comfort and shape. A generously reinforced waistband and a ribbed section in the crotch that contracts after washing gives a better silhouette. The flat lock seams throughout stop chaffing and are really durable.
Describe the look and feel of these garments in a sentence.
They are old Ivy-style sweats – they make you feel safe, like Rocky.
Do you have any childhood or nostalgic tracksuit memories? And how are the P Johnson sweats different to those of your youth?
I think about Michael J Fox in The Secret of My Success mostly. These were very much a part of our youth, I think. I can’t say exactly how different these ones are to those of my youth, but memory is dynamic like that. You can make it want you want it to be.
What makes the ultimate pair of sweats?
Ultimately a great set of sweats is generously cut, cosy and does the job of wicking sweat. They should age well and wash easily. They should make you feel like you’re Paul Newman.
Do you have any tips for styling them? How can or should people wear these?
Going for a run is a good start, I guess. But just wear them with confidence – wear them unconsciously. Pure garments like these organise themselves into the wardrobe, that’s the beauty of it.
Did lockdown change the way you felt about sweats and tracksuits at all?
Not really. I like them for exercise, after exercise and for the extreme sport lounging – and there has been a little more of the latter.
P Johnson sweats are scheduled to be back in stock the week commencing July 20. Pre-order will be available after that drop.