Matthew Gonzalez, a professional tailor, educator and Project Week Leader on Sotheby’s Institute of Art's Gap Year program, spoke to GQ magazine about British craftsmanship, London’s Savile Row, and his time as an undercutter at Thom Sweeney. Here is an excerpt from the interview.
After completing his degree at LCF, Gonzalez was taken on as an undercutter at Thom Sweeney. He spent eight years there honing his craft before moving on to Dunhill and then Huntsman, where he achieved a longtime goal of working on the Row as a pattern cutter. “I developed a silly technique to help guys relax at Huntsman,” he remembers. “Oftentimes we’d offer water, tea, coffee, and I’d get into the fitting, fit the trouser, and as soon as I put the jacket on the client would stand straight like a soldier on parade. I’d say, ‘Why don’t you get a drink? Your coffee is getting cold.’ They’d reach for it and immediately relax and allow the jacket to hang the way it should.”
But it was another stint in academia—pursuing a master’s degree in the history of design at Oxford during his stints at Dunhill and Huntsman—that crystallized Gonzalez’s desire to start his own business. “It gave me a really wonderful insight into a slice of British culture that overlaps very neatly with bespoke tailoring, and it also allowed me to think outside of a very narrow lane of tailoring. It made me start thinking about why we dress the way we do,” Gonzalez says. “That allowed me to start thinking critically about what a brand is.”
For Gonzalez, figuring out his brand meant establishing a house silhouette. Rather than the classic English business suit (strong and structured, with multiple layers of canvas and padding) or the Neapolitan leisure suit (shorter, slimmer, no padding to speak of), Gonzalez drew most from the so-called “sack” suits of midcentury America. His jackets are cut square and without darts, featuring soft shoulders, straight pockets, side vents, and a three-roll-two closure—a classic American technique of cutting a three-button jacket so that the lapel rolls over the third button. The result is elegant and yet relaxed; formal but not stiff.
“It’s very American,” Gonzalez says of his house style, “because it takes away any kind of flourish. It avoids extremely slanted pockets. I want to strip back all those flourishes into a very simple design.”
Alex Freeling. "Meet the Only American Tailor in London’s Most Storied Bespoke District." GQ. Accessed August 18, 2023. https://www.gq.com/story/matthew-gonzalez-tailor-profile.
About Matthew Gonzalez
Matthew is a bespoke pattern cutter with 12 years of experience working in the industry. He began his career studying bespoke tailoring at the London College of Fashion whilst training as an under cutter at Thom Sweeney in 2008, spending 8 years with the company before moving on to Alfred Dunhill. In 2017, Matthew decided to finally make the move to Savile Row where he worked as a pattern cutter for Huntsman, one of ‘The Row’s’ most storied institutions whilst simultaneously completing a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford in History of Design.