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Beyond the Bale : December 2015
OFF FARM 15 A TAILOR MADE EXPERIENCE DOWN UNDER English tailor Justin Brogan has worked with Australian Merino wool for decades – but it took a recent trip down under to bring him into close contact with the magnificent animals that produce this fine wool. Tailor Justin Brogan says shearing a Merino sheep was the highlight of his spring trip to Australia, a journey he received as winner of a UK industry-wide competition run by Dormeuil – the French producer of suiting fabric that is a large buyer of Australian Merino wool. The competition involved answering a string of questions about the yarn. Modest in recounting his victory, Justin confesses that it included an educated guess: having to estimate the weight of wool required to weave a length of cloth. Based these days in his childhood home of Torquay, on the south coast of Devon, he describes himself as not at all a country boy. So Justin admits to a little pride in getting to grips with the clippers, in the most challenging task once he arrived in Australia. “I was a little concerned, thinking that it was all going to be quite a wrestling match between us!” he says. “Happily this was not the case and both sheep and I survived the event unscathed.” A video streamed to British friends and customers confirmed the outcome, with the animal perfectly content to lie there in the shed at the surprisingly capable hands of a novice. A warm welcome was provided by the hosts, the Picker family of ‘Salisbury’ near Crookwell, to Justin and photographer Rob Elford who accompanied him on the trip. AWI supported the visit. A long flight, followed by a drive and a quick shower, led immediately to “a stunning barbecue washed down by their good wine – a great evening under the Southern Cross,” Justin adds. Justin trained in London at Central St Martin’s art and design school. That led to several years with Gieves & Hawkes at No 1 Savile Row, one of the British capital’s oldest and most revered bespoke tailoring houses. Moving back to south-west England for family reasons, he then spent a decade at Lugets, a gentlemen’s outfitter in Exeter, and has recently started his own business, developing a web and social media presence to take private orders under the label Justin Brogan Bespoke. As Australia is the source of much of the wool in good British suits, Dormeuil launched the contest for its UK contacts in order to promote Iconik, a lightweight Merino fabric that hangs especially well on the body. “Iconik is first and foremost a tribute to all the Australian fine Merino woolgrowers. Without them Dormeuil would not have existed,” says Dominic Dormeuil, president of the clothier, whose UK division is headquartered around the corner from Savile Row. Justin headed to Sydney for the rest of his brief but busy visit, spending what he describes as a greatly enjoyable time with Scott Carmody and the team at AWI. He also compliments the “extremely warm reception” he received when dropping in to see top Sydney tailors Shane Rochefort and JC Cuttler. Back in England, orders are coming in regularly for Justin’s suits, jackets and waistcoats. As his website at justinbrogan. co.uk points out, he discusses options individually with clients, takes meticulous measurements and shows them a vast range of swatches from which to choose. Nor is it an extravagance in the long run. “Let’s say it could be about having that one adaptable piece in your wardrobe. A three piece suit, where the jacket can be worn by itself or with the waistcoat, teamed with jeans to a bar, club or restaurant with or without a tie – or the entire suit for a business meeting or wedding reception.” It’s a world away from having to flick through a rail of readymade clothes in a downtown store – hoping that something you like might fit. “Not snobbish,” Justin says. “Just sensible.” MORE INFORMATION www.dormeuil.com English tailor Justin Brogan on his visit to the Picker family’s ‘Salisbury’ property near Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
In the Shops - March 2016