The French made-to-measure tailor Les Nouveaux Ateliers has expanded and opened their first store in Brussels. Starting off four years ago, co-founders François Chambaud and Nicolas Wolfovski implemented their idea for machine scanned 3D measurements in tailoring. Les Nouveaux Ateliers is the first of its kind to use 3D technology to measure client dimensions and to create individualized computer-made clothes. They opened their first store on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris. Now, after 4 years, Les Nouveaux Ateliers operates 9 stores – 5 in Paris, 1 in Lille, 1 in Strasbourg and 1 in Brussels. Since their launch, they have sold over 150 000 suits.
The Brussels Times sat down with co-founder François Chambaud to learn more about how they came up and developed their idea and their thoughts about expansion of the brand within Europe and beyond.
Q: How did it all start?
A: Before doing this, I used to work in the defense industry and came across a wide range of technologies. Body scanners have been around for a long time, but have mostly been used for security purposes. I met Nicolas while studying for a BBA at ESSEC Business School and we came up with the idea to use 3D body images for the purpose of made-to-measure tailoring.
Neither myself nor Nicolas had any previous experience within the tailoring industry. We consider this however to be one of our greatest strengths, as it has allowed us to enter the market with different perspectives and not be afraid to introduce fresh and innovative ideas. The mission of Les Nouveaux Ateliers since day 1 has been to offer our clients high quality tailor-made products at ready-made clothing prices. In order to do this, we had to work with the best fabric producers in the world.
Shortly after coming up with our idea, we contacted the CEO of Loro Piana, France. We hoped they could be interested in collaborating with us. He was intrigued by our idea and invited us to an event at the Italian Embassy. They were skeptical at first. However, we managed to later sign a deal and are now the largest buyer of Loro Piana coupon fabric in Europe.
Q: How is Les Nouveaux Ateliers more attractive compared to the alternatives?
A: We strongly believe that male professional clothing, i.e. suits, shirts and ties are a need and not a luxury for the modern man. Hence, these items should not be super expensive and have to be affordable for everyone.
Until now, traditional tailoring and made-to-measure has been quite expensive and time consuming. Using a classic tailor for example, can take up to 6 months until the client is fully satisfied with the suit. This is way too long and inefficient.
In the made-to-measure market, a lot of the players are “pure internet”. While this offers certain benefits, it also means that you end up needing lots of iterations and changes since the customers themselves have to take all the measurements and this often leads to mistakes. Approximately 90% of made-to-measure orders via the internet require alterations. We therefore think it is essential to have a physical presence, where the customers can get advice from stylists, see and feel the different materials. Our idea was to create a fun and simple process where our customers can easily visit one of our stores next to their office.
The concept of Les Nouveaux Ateliers responds to the demand for customization and a good price/quality relationship. Service is also essential in the made-to-measure business, so we put all of these components together. At Les Nouveaux Ateliers, you can now get a Loro Piana or Holland & Sherry quality suit for only 695 Eur. Normally this costs around 3,000 Eur through traditional tailors. It is very difficult to find better value for money.
Q: So how does it work?
A: When you first enter a Les Nouveaux Ateliers shop, you are welcomed by a stylist who will discuss your needs and give advice on material and style based on the intended use (e.g. business, ceremonial or casual wear) and your body type.
The price of a suit or shirt is fixed and is determined only by the quality of material that you choose. This means that you can ask for any design and include any number of details that you may wish to have, e.g. extra pockets, buttons, etc.
You then enter a Body scanning machine. In less than one second, a 3D image is created with all your measurements. Together with notes by the stylist and any special requests by the customer, all the information is sent to our own atelier and production facility in Shanghai.
4 weeks after your order, you go to pick up your suit. If any changes are needed, we do all of them locally, for free, regardless of how many that could be needed until you are 100% satisfied.