Fast Track: Suits and blazers cut by lasers

What do you do if after your first week in an impressive City job you realise your off-the-peg suit doesn't quite come up to scratch? Holly Davies visits Savile Row for a surprisingly affordable answer

The Problem

Stephen Wood, 31, is set to take over the family business. After years of being a backroom boy he now needs to be taken seriously. The business is TF Wood and Son, suppliers of hand-made accessories to the gun trade for more than 25 years. Steve will soon be responsible for all sales negotiations and general business dealings,. At the moment, his standard outfit for meetings is a pair of beige cords and a checked shirt. He wants a suit but can't afford bespoke and knows he will not be respected if he turns up in any old high-street affair.

The Solution

For a "semi-bespoke" suit, select tailors use a Mintel computer system provided by Paname, which translates the exact dimensions into a laser- cut suit. The tailor measures the customer and enters the figures into the computer. Paname makes up the suit in France, then sends it to the tailor who oversees the final fitting. The process may sound hi-tech, but it has been around for the past 10 years, and is growing increasingly popular with traditional tailors who are discovering that it can give their business another string to its bow. More than 150 tailors now offer the service throughout the UK and Ireland.

The suits cost between pounds 450 and pounds 550 - almost half the price of bespoke suits - without neglecting any of the finer details that bespoke suits deliver. A hand-made bespoke suit can set you back up to pounds 20,000.

Stephen's new ensemble began life as a rather ill-fitting and unfashionable blazer, a 42-inch basic template - known in the trade as a block - whose measurements are stored in the computer. His tailor was the delightful Eric James, of James and James on Old Burlington Street. Bundles of fabric swatches were brought out for Steve's inspection. "I thought that I wanted something in dark grey, but there was hundreds of fabrics to choose from," he said later. "It's amazing - when you've got so much choice, the boring suit you needed becomes something of a pleasure." Stephen took a shine to a tweed, which was obviously suited to his role in the gun trade.

Eric set to work adapting the jacket to Stephen's measurements and specifications. The shoulders sat well but the armholes were too deep. By tapping a code into the computer, he was able to alter the measurements so they would fit Stephen perfectly. Then Steve was asked if he wanted the cuff of his shirt to show. He did, so half an inch came off the sleeves of the jacket.

The general style of jacket was the next choice. As Stephen had only owned two suits before - one of which was a green tartan Vivienne Westwood bondage suit - all he knew was that he wanted to go for three buttons and single breasted. He also wanted, above anything else, the attention to detail a ready-to-wear suit cannot provide. The tailor's charts included a new design that was just what he wanted, and surprisingly modern in cut. Three buttons, slightly waisted, with a hand-stitched lapel, real buttonholes on the sleeve and a double vent.

Steve thought choosing the trousers would be the easy part until he was shown the array of pocket styles available. He eventually plumped for a Fifties-style cutaway pocket, and one back pocket with a button and loop. The icing on the cake was the decision to embroider his name in gold thread on the inside breast of the jacket. "The details are the things that make you feel like you're designing your own suit, a special one- off production," he said.

Lastly it was agreed that the trouser hems should be left raw so that when the suit arrived back from France, in approximately three weeks, they would be cut by hand and tapered so they were longer at the back, which would give a slight drape over Steve's brogues.

After the fitting, I did some research on the nearest competition: the designers you would expect to offer similar quality in their off-the-peg suits. The cheapest Paul Smith suit costs pounds 485 and a Nicole Farhi suit is pounds 550. Alterations are free for Paul Smith unless you require shoulder alterations, which cost pounds 120. The prices may be similar but, in real terms, the Paname suit offers so much more.

The Verdict

"I expected that it would be quite an intimidating experience, going to a posh tailor on Savile Row, but everyone was friendly," says Stephen. "I had quite a good idea of what I wanted from my suit but I actually ended up with something quite different. The chance to choose from over 200 combinations really made you feel as if you were designing a suit for yourself, one that was different from everyone else's and really reflected my own personality and identity.

"I was really happy with the advice I was given and had every confidence that Eric wouldn't let me walk out looking like a fool. His instinct for what was flattering and his ability to translate what I wanted was uncanny. I think it's great that now all my measurements are on the computer and I could get another great suit within three weeks.

"The service is especially good for someone like me who really does not enjoy wandering round the shops, mainly because I know exactly what I want and need. Even if you don't know loads about having a suit made, the little bit of knowledge you do have combined with this tailoring system - and, of course, a good tailor - guarantees that you'll end up with a suit you will love.

"I always find that people judge a book by its cover and I find that people generally get me wrong, but with the suit that I've had made I think they'll get it right."

Paname is available at tailors nationwide, for inquiries call 01823 335251.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future