When we first introduced P. Johnson to our Downtown Flagship last year, we knew we were on to something special. Patrick Johnson, the brand’s founder, has been able to seamlessly marry Italian tailoring with his relaxed Australian attitude, creating effortless suiting for the modern man. The Sydney-based designer even created his first-ever ready-to-wear collection for the store, adding to his brand’s standout made-to-measure tailoring services. So when Johnson offered to let us tag along to the Tuscan town where artisan tailors craft each of his custom suits, we jumped at the chance.
Set among the foothills of the Apuan Alps—home of Carrara and the quarries that supply its famous namesake marble—the city Pietrasanta has been at the center of Italian tailoring traditions for generations. That rich heritage has made it the perfect home for Sartoria Carrara, the atelier where P. Johnson garments are handcrafted by some of the world’s most skilled tailors. Johnson traveled to the atelier earlier this summer and took the opportunity to show off both the tailoring shop and the Italian city that he has come to love. Read on to get Johnson’s inside look at the beautiful setting, then head to Barneys to check out the handiwork of these amazing artisans.
The Window: Can you give us a sense of your itinerary for the trip?
Patrick Johnson: The workshop is in Tuscany, and the region is called Massa Carrara. The local town we stay in near the work shop is called Pietrasanta. I was there for three days before heading to a village just south of Sienna. Before that, I was up north in Bellagio on Lake Como for my father’s 70th birthday.
As an Aussie, how did you end up with an atelier located in Tuscany?
The region has a rich history in tailoring. Italy’s first real organized tailoring factory started in the town of Avenza, about five minutes down the road from our workshop. The area has a great heritage and depth of skill in tailoring.
What was your first impression of Carrara?
Very dramatic. You have the sea framed by the famous marble Apuan Alps.
What sets Pietrasanta apart from other Italian cities?
I spoke about the area’s tailoring history, which is unique. The town of Pietrasanta also has been a mecca for artists, dating back centuries. Michelangelo chose the marble for David from the mountains that surround the town. He then worked on his masterpiece in the town itself. Today, artists from around the world flock to the area for creative residencies. The town is also very beautiful, which never hurts.
What was your most memorable experience of the trip?
My favorite time is around sunset. I’d climb up to the olive grove that sits behind the town and look out to the sea, watching the sun set over Pietrasanta.
What most surprised you during this trip?
When we bought the factory around two years ago, we had 12 employees. Today we have just over 50, and we’re still growing. The area was heavily hit by the financial crisis and hasn’t really recovered, so now with over 50 staff members, we are quite a large employer for the area. This has come as a very pleasant surprise, and it’s something that I’m very proud of.