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Flying high with Luke Sweeney

  • Published 21 February 2020

Co-founder of London tailoring brand Thom Sweeney, we caught up with Luke Sweeney to discuss fashion, food and flying. From delving in to how the famed brand got started to New York trips and flying to the Maldives, Luke's travels are far from ordinary! If you have any travel plans that are in need of organising, Winged Boots is here to help. To book, enquire here or call one of our personal travel managers on 0203 916 0985.

“I speak to Thom more than I speak to my wife,” Luke confesses. One half of London male tailoring brand Thom Sweeney, Luke is referring to his business partner of 13 years, Thom Whiddett. And as we sit in the duo’s second London store on Mayfair’s Bruton Place, it’s clear that the pair’s constant communication has paid off.
 
Now an internationally recognised brand that has dressed celeb royalty such as David Beckham, Ryan Gosling and Jamie Redknapp, what started as, in Luke’s own words, a “young alternative to a traditional way of making bespoke clothes” now incorporates a ready-to-wear collection as well as a store in New York’s fashionable SoHo and partnership with online retailer Mr Porter. Offering a timeless style with a modern sensibility, the brand creates garments to last years, not seasons.
 
“We’re tailors by trade and we pride ourselves on that, so we want our customers to leave with a garment that they have invested in and that they can wear in 10- or 15-years’ time,” Luke explains. Honing the skills they first picked up as teenagers working at Timothy Everest – Thom as a trainee cutter and Luke heading up the made-to-measure arm of the business – it’s safe to say that the two tailors’ eye for detail and personable charm is what has led Thom Sweeney to become one of the most fashionable destinations in Mayfair. 
 
“We’ve never really fallen in love with addresses. Everyone has this association that Saville Row is the Mecca of tailoring, which it is, but we didn’t think it really fit our personality. We didn’t intentionally stay away but we’ve always felt comfortable where we are in Mayfair,” Luke reflects. “We’ve always been drawn to streets like this one (Bruton Place), where we can be off the beaten track a little bit or down the Mews.”
 
And the shop’s interior is just as impressive as the racks and shelves of clothes it houses. “We wanted to create an environment where guys are really comfortable. They can relax and hang out in our stores; it’s not too intimidating or pretentious,” Luke says. “Thom and I really get involved in the shop’s look from choosing the chairs to even the tape measures and the hangers, we’re really into that side of the business. This is our DNA. The shops are our look and feel and we’ll always keep that.”

“I speak to Thom more than I speak to my wife,” Luke confesses. One half of London male tailoring brand Thom Sweeney, Luke is referring to his business partner of 13 years, Thom Whiddett. And as we sit in the duo’s second London store on Mayfair’s Bruton Place, it’s clear that the pair’s constant communication has paid off.
 
Now an internationally recognised brand that has dressed celeb royalty such as David Beckham, Ryan Gosling and Jamie Redknapp, what started as, in Luke’s own words, a “young alternative to a traditional way of making bespoke clothes” now incorporates a ready-to-wear collection as well as a store in New York’s fashionable SoHo and partnership with online retailer Mr Porter. Offering a timeless style with a modern sensibility, the brand creates garments to last years, not seasons.
 
“We’re tailors by trade and we pride ourselves on that, so we want our customers to leave with a garment that they have invested in and that they can wear in 10- or 15-years’ time,” Luke explains. Honing the skills they first picked up as teenagers working at Timothy Everest – Thom as a trainee cutter and Luke heading up the made-to-measure arm of the business – it’s safe to say that the two tailors’ eye for detail and personable charm is what has led Thom Sweeney to become one of the most fashionable destinations in Mayfair. 
 
“We’ve never really fallen in love with addresses. Everyone has this association that Saville Row is the Mecca of tailoring, which it is, but we didn’t think it really fit our personality. We didn’t intentionally stay away but we’ve always felt comfortable where we are in Mayfair,” Luke reflects. “We’ve always been drawn to streets like this one (Bruton Place), where we can be off the beaten track a little bit or down the Mews.”
 
And the shop’s interior is just as impressive as the racks and shelves of clothes it houses. “We wanted to create an environment where guys are really comfortable. They can relax and hang out in our stores; it’s not too intimidating or pretentious,” Luke says. “Thom and I really get involved in the shop’s look from choosing the chairs to even the tape measures and the hangers, we’re really into that side of the business. This is our DNA. The shops are our look and feel and we’ll always keep that.”

From boxing memorabilia and walls adorned with impeccably dressed gentlemen and taxidermy to a record player and fully stocked bar, the shop embodies a traditional gentlemen’s club with a flair of modern luxury that seamlessly oozes style. “Whiskey seems to be a popular drink of choice for our clients on Thursday and Friday afternoons, so we’ve always got a full bar filled with good whiskey. Tequila has become a big thing right now as well,” Luke adds.
 
But what made a young Essex boy want to become a tailor in the big smoke? “All my family were in the rag trade, so I grew up around the industry,” he explains. “My mum worked in a clothing factory, my nan was a seamstress and my dad was in textiles so growing up in my house there was no other choice really. I was always fascinated with fabric and clothes. I remember even as a kid I would save up my pocket money and buy a Ralph Lauren shirt – then I wouldn’t be able to afford to go out and wear it that weekend. But with my family background it just felt very natural for me to be in this industry.
 
“I remember the first time I walked into a tailoring house at around 17-years-old. I was like ‘wow, I want to be a part of this’. Visually it looked so cool, even though at the time it wasn’t perceived as a cool industry. Instead it was quite an old man’s business. It was during the ‘dress down Friday’ era, and my dad tried to talk me out of getting involved in tailoring. But I had made up my mind.”
 
And now, the brand has had the pleasure of dressing the most fashionable men in Hollywood, nay the world. Yet Luke stays humble. “Personally, this is the razzmatazz side to the business. We’re very lucky as we have dressed men from all walks of life and have a fantastic clientele but opening New York was a great achievement for us and the company.” 
 
With an international business, travel is a big part of Luke’s life, visiting the New York store once a month and frequently flying to Florence and Milan in Italy as well as California hotspot LA . But he still finds time to unwind. “New York has a real special place in my heart and when I visit I love The Mercer. It’s close to the store and has a great atmosphere. But to relax, I like The Maldives. We go every year and stay at One&Only Reethi Rah. I also love South Africa, specifically Cape Town.”
 
But what does a tailor pack for a trip overseas? “Socks and pants. Oh, and hair product – that really fancy stuff called VO5,” he laughs. “I’m quite low maintenance to be honest. If I’m travelling on business then the clothing side is important, but I don’t take a lot. If I were going away for four nights, then I can probably mix and match about two outfits.”

From boxing memorabilia and walls adorned with impeccably dressed gentlemen and taxidermy to a record player and fully stocked bar, the shop embodies a traditional gentlemen’s club with a flair of modern luxury that seamlessly oozes style. “Whiskey seems to be a popular drink of choice for our clients on Thursday and Friday afternoons, so we’ve always got a full bar filled with good whiskey. Tequila has become a big thing right now as well,” Luke adds.
 
But what made a young Essex boy want to become a tailor in the big smoke? “All my family were in the rag trade, so I grew up around the industry,” he explains. “My mum worked in a clothing factory, my nan was a seamstress and my dad was in textiles so growing up in my house there was no other choice really. I was always fascinated with fabric and clothes. I remember even as a kid I would save up my pocket money and buy a Ralph Lauren shirt – then I wouldn’t be able to afford to go out and wear it that weekend. But with my family background it just felt very natural for me to be in this industry.
 
“I remember the first time I walked into a tailoring house at around 17-years-old. I was like ‘wow, I want to be a part of this’. Visually it looked so cool, even though at the time it wasn’t perceived as a cool industry. Instead it was quite an old man’s business. It was during the ‘dress down Friday’ era, and my dad tried to talk me out of getting involved in tailoring. But I had made up my mind.”
 
And now, the brand has had the pleasure of dressing the most fashionable men in Hollywood, nay the world. Yet Luke stays humble. “Personally, this is the razzmatazz side to the business. We’re very lucky as we have dressed men from all walks of life and have a fantastic clientele but opening New York was a great achievement for us and the company.” 
 
With an international business, travel is a big part of Luke’s life, visiting the New York store once a month and frequently flying to Florence and Milan in Italy as well as California hotspot LA . But he still finds time to unwind. “New York has a real special place in my heart and when I visit I love The Mercer. It’s close to the store and has a great atmosphere. But to relax, I like The Maldives. We go every year and stay at One&Only Reethi Rah. I also love South Africa, specifically Cape Town.”
 
But what does a tailor pack for a trip overseas? “Socks and pants. Oh, and hair product – that really fancy stuff called VO5,” he laughs. “I’m quite low maintenance to be honest. If I’m travelling on business then the clothing side is important, but I don’t take a lot. If I were going away for four nights, then I can probably mix and match about two outfits.”

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Suitcases and international flights aside, London will always have a special place in his heart. “The more I travel the more I appreciate London. I think it’s one of the greatest cities in the world,” Luke says.
 
This could be due to its varied food scene, one which he has certainly sampled. “I’m such a creature of habit,” he laughs. “For Japanese, I love Zuma. You always get a good meal there. I go to the little Argentinian tapas place down Albemarle Street called Isabel probably once a week, and I love Jean-Georges at The Connaught on a Sunday.”
 
But how does a busy businessman keep on top of his travel calendar? Much like Thom Sweeney’s racks of clothing, Winged Boots offers a made to measure service and tailor makes Luke’s personal and business travel arrangements. “The service at Winged Boots is second to none. There was an occasion once where I was flying to the Maldives from London. My wife was travelling from New York on an Emirates flight and we were to meet in Malé at the same time ready for our transfers to Reethi Rah, but when I got to Gatwick airport my flight had been cancelled. It was chaos.
  
Somehow Ryan (Collins, Winged Boots’ personal travel manager) managed to get me from Gatwick to Heathrow – I only had a two-hour window – and got me on a Qatar Airways flight where I landed before my wife in Malé. With any other travel agent that wouldn’t have happened. I would have missed my flight and probably two days of my holiday. Winged Boots’ service levels are fantastic and it’s so personal.”
 
We couldn’t wrap up the interview without asking how the name Thom Sweeney was born. “I think we were having a beer and Luke Whiddett didn’t quite have a ring to it, so Thom Sweeney it was. And that was that.”

Suitcases and international flights aside, London will always have a special place in his heart. “The more I travel the more I appreciate London. I think it’s one of the greatest cities in the world,” Luke says.
 
This could be due to its varied food scene, one which he has certainly sampled. “I’m such a creature of habit,” he laughs. “For Japanese, I love Zuma. You always get a good meal there. I go to the little Argentinian tapas place down Albemarle Street called Isabel probably once a week, and I love Jean-Georges at The Connaught on a Sunday.”
 
But how does a busy businessman keep on top of his travel calendar? Much like Thom Sweeney’s racks of clothing, Winged Boots offers a made to measure service and tailor makes Luke’s personal and business travel arrangements. “The service at Winged Boots is second to none. There was an occasion once where I was flying to the Maldives from London. My wife was travelling from New York on an Emirates flight and we were to meet in Malé at the same time ready for our transfers to Reethi Rah, but when I got to Gatwick airport my flight had been cancelled. It was chaos.
  
Somehow Ryan (Collins, Winged Boots’ personal travel manager) managed to get me from Gatwick to Heathrow – I only had a two-hour window – and got me on a Qatar Airways flight where I landed before my wife in Malé. With any other travel agent that wouldn’t have happened. I would have missed my flight and probably two days of my holiday. Winged Boots’ service levels are fantastic and it’s so personal.”
 
We couldn’t wrap up the interview without asking how the name Thom Sweeney was born. “I think we were having a beer and Luke Whiddett didn’t quite have a ring to it, so Thom Sweeney it was. And that was that.”

Luke Sweeney’s guide to NYC

BREAKFAST MEETING 
There’s a local place called Café Gitane in NoLita that does a great avocado toast. It’s very low-key but it’s really cool.

WORKING LUNCH
Jean-Georges at The Mercer or try Mamo, an Italian restaurant that’s very quiet during lunchtime.

DINNER AWAY FROM THE CROWDS
CARBONE on Thompson Street is a great Italian. It’s full of locals and it’s a nightmare to get in but the food is outstanding – you feel like you’re going back to the old Sinatra days.

AFTER DARK 
My store… 
I also love The Dead Rabbit Pub for a nice pint after work. It’s run by two Irish boys and there’s sawdust on the floor – the Guinness is on point.

BREAKFAST MEETING 
There’s a local place called Café Gitane in NoLita that does a great avocado toast. It’s very low-key but it’s really cool.

WORKING LUNCH
Jean-Georges at The Mercer or try Mamo, an Italian restaurant that’s very quiet during lunchtime.

DINNER AWAY FROM THE CROWDS
CARBONE on Thompson Street is a great Italian. It’s full of locals and it’s a nightmare to get in but the food is outstanding – you feel like you’re going back to the old Sinatra days.

AFTER DARK 
My store… 
I also love The Dead Rabbit Pub for a nice pint after work. It’s run by two Irish boys and there’s sawdust on the floor – the Guinness is on point.

DATE NIGHT
It depends on the night, but I would probably go to The Polo Bar uptown.
 
ROOFTOP BAR
SoHo House 
 
SHOPPING DISTRICT
It’s got to be SoHo

Discover the Big Apple by clicking here. To book a trip, enquire here or call one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 now.

DATE NIGHT
It depends on the night, but I would probably go to The Polo Bar uptown.
 
ROOFTOP BAR
SoHo House 
 
SHOPPING DISTRICT
It’s got to be SoHo

Discover the Big Apple by clicking here. To book a trip, enquire here or call one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 now.

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