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.

Arts & Entertainment
TV

Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit