When it comes to retail in the 2020s, there's an increasingly dominant narrative that suggests, above all else, convenience is king. The internet has, of course, fundamentally changed our relationship with consumer goods. And it was always going that way, but physical shopping being literally illegal in many parts of the world over the last two years has given it even more of a leg-up to ubiquity, with e-commerce sales growing by more than a reported 25% globally in 2020 alone.
As a consumer, it's a tricky one to parse: there are, obviously, innumerable benefits to ordering something online and it showing up at your doorstep in a manner of days. If you're looking for a new USB-C cable for your home office, you probably don't need to take a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon to visit a few different electronics shops, trying different sizes and styles, internally debating the merits of the no-frills, affordable option versus the high-spec, specialised one from a smaller and more prestigious store in a hipper part of town. 'The thing is,' you think as you go to the counter and a helpful shop assistant bags up your gold-plated, £56.99 purchase, 'you buy this once and it lasts a decade.'
Online shopping creates and fulfils an increasing consumer demand, but it's not always the ideal way to shop. That's especially true when it comes to clothing, which is often a tactile experience as much as it is a visual one and, crucially, where the physical act of trying something on to test the fit is traditionally tied into the experience. Buying three sizes of a particular shirt, knowing you can send two back free of charge to be processed, refunded, repackaged and resold to someone doing the very same thing might technically be convenient, but it's a cold, calculating way to undertake something that can also be fulfilling, even joyous.
Virtual tailor Alfred guides you through steps to upload your measurements
That, of course, leaves an enticing middle ground: one that takes elements of the benefits of in-person fashion retail – a rich and personal shopping experience and inherent trust in fit and style – and combines it with the convenience of not having to leave your sofa or office to buy an item you'll wear for years. That's the sweet spot that Edition One aims to inhabit. One of a few high-end clothing companies to offer bespoke fits bought online, the roots of the company were put down by co-founders Reto Peter and Patrick Jungo in 2014. Those roots were in the successful and innovative tailoring company Edit Suits, which acts as an intermediary between consumers and high-end cutters, giving them access to beautiful and bespoke suits at accessible prices. Crucially, while there's an online presence to Edit Suits, Peter and Jungo aren't tech entrepreneurs first and foremost, and Edit's user experience is both tactile and physical, with showrooms in Bond Street and the City and Singapore that undertake tailoring in person.
They aren't, then, keen to see the internet bring an end to this awkward and bothersome notion of actually interacting with human beings when shopping, by any means – but in Edition One, they've come up with a way to fit consumers around the UK with genuinely bespoke shirtmaking, but done simply from a phone or computer. If it sounds straightforward it's because it is – for the consumer, at least. Create an account on your phone, grab an old faithful – the shirt in your wardrobe that fits you best, and find a tape measure, and virtual tailor Alfred guides you through some simple steps to upload and tweak your measurements in a bid to find your ideal fit. Once you've saved them, the world (or the website) is your oyster, and you can browse collections including Business, Casual and the increasingly popular Overshirt category in beautiful fabric including cotton, corduroy, denim and more across styles from piqué and Oxford to workwear and plaid, most of which are also customisable before you check out, with the option to add or remove pockets and other detailing.
The company is currently reporting 87% of their user base keeping with their original measurements for subsequent purchases, but you can also continually revisit and gently tweak them as you search for what Peter and Jungo eulogise as "the perfect fit". They aren't the first founders to open an online-only platform selling bespoke garments, but the evidence, based on an exquisite Indigo Navy Merino casual shirt that arrived with me a week or two after ordering, suggests the particulars of their background in tailoring ensure a high level of attention to detail, quality and wearability. Combine this with a beautifully engineered website that makes the online experience a genuinely enjoyable one and the knowledge that literally anything on the site should not just fit, but fit perfectly, it's a worthy replacement for your go-to high-street shirtmaker, and then some.
From £69; Edition One currently offers £20 off your first made-to-measure shirt. edition.one