Real talk: affordable, luxurious, off-the-rack suits from the likes of Suitsupply, J. Crew and their kin have gotten so good that we had temporary sartorial amnesia. We forgot the power of custom. But now a new charge, led by Francois Chambaud, is here to remind everyone that nothing makes you feel richer, swaggier or more confident than a hand-finished, totally customised, made-to-measure masterpiece.
But don’t mistake Chambaud – and his brand, Atelier NA – as traditional for traditional’s sake. They’ve taken a century’s-old process and added a hit of tech into the sartorial equation.
Every client that commissions a suit from Chambaud (as GQ did) first enters a 3D body scanner which Atelier NA says takes over 200 measurements in less than a second. (Kind of beats fiddling around with a measuring tape, right?) But the human touch isn’t removed altogether – a style advisor will still interpret the measurements, and ensure your suit is ultimately cut to the precise fit and drape that you crave most. “Through technology, you can really make a revolution in the industry by creating products for people, rather than over-producing collections,” says Chambaud, who is imminently expanding his services to a store in Dubai.
The Frenchman had previously worked in the military, looking at new technologies. The spark for the atelier came after his military proposal for installing body scanners globally was turned down. And we’re all the more stylish for it.
Of course, none of this would be much good if the suiting wasn’t as luxurious as the tech was high.
Atelier NA has a snappy selection of fabrications to select from, including those from Italian masters Loro Piana, and Holland & Sherry of Britain.
Chambaud says that he is embarking on a mission to educate his potential customer base. “We want to give people a deeper insight of what the difference between ready-to-wear and the bespoke world is – and the difference of one fabric to another.”
When it comes to the king of all suiting qualities, fit, Chambaud emphasises that where the machine ends, the human touch begins.
“10 suits from your wardrobe might have 10 different measurements: one suit more fitted, another more loose. The tailoring experience is not only about the measurements of the body, but the personal consultation,” he says. “It’s important to understand is that a made-to-measure product is not specifically made to measure – it’s made to your wish.”
GQ Goes DIY
During self-isolation, many of us will find ourselves mourning over how we cannot dress up, cannot socialise and – in GQ’s case – can’t produce traditional shoots. I was panicking about getting this suit shot in time for print deadline. Then, it became clear: lean-into the limitations. So, I decided to flat lay the suit on my bed and pair it with an obnoxious selfie of myself on an iPad. It’s true: creativity can flourish, even under a lockdown. – KZ