Step into Michael Browne’s atelier off London’s Berkeley Square, and you immediately sense that you’re in a space where precision is everything. The entire space is neat; from the bunch books of luxury suiting cloth that line the walls, to the impressive angles and edges of suits that sit on mannequins around the edges of the studio.
On the day I visit, there’s a midnight blue fresco double-breasted suit, which has just been through its final fitting with a client, on display here. Next to it is a stunning wool, silk and linen sport coat that’s still chequered with white baste stitching, and across the room, one of Browne’s coat makers is sewing the collar onto a double-breasted overcoat. This coat is a work of art: imposing, svelte and simple. Its pockets are without flaps, the back has an inverted pleat for comfort but no belt strapped across it, and there are no extra buttons for show on the chest. It’s confident and architectural in its look—noticeably different to traditional Savile Row tailoring.
Browne opened this studio two years ago, following eight years training under Joe Morgan and Roy Chittleborough, whose Savile Row workshop makes some of the most impressive clothes in the business, informed by the duo’s years working under Edward Sexton in the 1970s.
Today, Browne has synthesized his experience to take what it means to be a bespoke tailor to new heights. “I try to create in a certain way,” he tells Robb Report. “The standard for most bespoke tailors is to have a house cut or a predetermined formula to work to. Then, they’ll fit the client using that formula. As the customer, you can be squeezed into something that might not be the best thing for you—and it’s hard to know what will work for you until you’ve had a bad experience. I take the formulas out. My goal is to create something that is sexy, flattering and comfortable, and I’ll play with the garment’s proportions and construction to achieve this.”
To this end, Browne goes to lengths far in excess of the big names on the Row. Most tailors require three fittings to finish a suit, Browne prefers four to five. “I like to take time to create,” he explains. “Creating a client’s pattern will take me between six and 20 hours—most cutters will knock out their patterns in an hour or so. I need a long time to take measurements too. I’ll study the client’s figuration, his stance, and then decide how best to cut for him.”
A Michael Browne suit benefits from idiosyncrasies in the way it is made that account for its striking profile. The shoulder pads are created by hand, designed to be as slim and sharp as possible. The jacket’s canvas is light and yet meticulously padded for an elegantly expressed chest, and Browne works additional layers of canvas through his lapels to ensure they “look alive, rather than flat.”
The result is a suit with remarkable dynamic lines that hugs the body without feeling cumbersome. “Comfort is very important,” Browne says, talking me through one of the jackets on a mannequin. “Young clients will put up with tight garments, but the majority of men won’t. Regardless, there’s something special about having a jacket with sweeping lines and a structured look, so we create the illusion of structure without the weight.”
Of course, all this engineering takes time, and Browne is directly involved in each step of the making process; from fitting the client to ripping down a basted jacket and making millimetric changes to its shape. It all comes back to his precise methodology. “It’s not that I don’t delegate,” he tells me, “it’s more that I can only ensure consistency for clients by working very closely with my team”. His work isn’t cheap: a two-piece suit starts at £6,500 (about $8,018 at current exchange)—but it does represent the pinnacle of British bespoke tailoring.
“It goes beyond just making clothes for someone,” he says. “I like to understand my clients’ personalities, what they do for a living, how they move, what their days are like. We don’t make many suits a year, and we don’t accept too many new clients at once, so I like to think that customers get more than just a suit with me. They get someone who cares about how you present yourself to the world. I get to know my clients in person, then I get to know them through a paper pattern, then I get to know them through cutting, making and fitting a suit. I’m there throughout the process and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”