Ideals of Mass Customization for Today’s Fashion Ecosystem
So lately, I’ve been really into this mass customization mindset, not just because I think it will be the future but also the fact that if done right, it should be a much more sustainable business model that what we traditionally see currently.
I’ve been interviewing consumers, as well as looking at a lot of western vloggers to share their experience on fashion mass customization through services in order to understand more in depth the process of mass customization which can be done in a variety of ways.
Mass customization: the ability to produce high quantity in small batches tailored to a consumers needs.
The concept is already prevailing in our daily lives from mobile App selection, Music (Pandora), DIY Salads to something as easy as choosing your phone plan, we just don’t realise it.
For mass customization that is related to apparel production, many brands, including global luxury retailers, like Burberry, have failed when attempting to launch a customizable collection (i.e Burberry Customizable trench- coat) which seriously and silently died down after one year of operation. However, in contrast to Burberry ( launching Burberry Bespoke several years ago) and other luxury brands failing in this arena, NIKEID successfully launched its customizable shoe ( 1999) through POS and online stores. Other than the brands large investments involved going from changing their logistics, bricks and motor, production supply chain etc, they also analysed the average price range that a consumer is willing to pay without seeing the item, in their case , approx. +20-35% above their already pre-made shoes.
Some success factors of mass customization include two key points; customer sensitivity and realistic visualisation.
Customer sensitivity depends on the degree of customer’s sacrifice (how much they are willing to pay versus the lead time combined and the brands ability to deliver according to customer’s specifications and cost
Realistic visualisation; the way the products are visualised whether it being via onsite trial or through a virtual process.
- A realistic visual of the product helps the customer see how their creation will look like in real life. Customers are rarely willing to spend money on a product without seeing it first, getting an idea of how the final product will look like becomes really important for the purchasing decision.
Today many designers are starting to create their own customizable collections.
For example, Heirloom bags recently created their “DIY- Pursonality” bag under the concept of modulated “lego-like” pieces.
“We’re focusing on consumers personal taste and the new movement for “Smart products, we want women to be able to mix and match while having a really large price point and margin to play with. Modulating the bags and deconstructing the parts allows you to revamp and create new ones instantly according to your mood’. says Co-Founder of Heirloom bags, Tiffany
But what about Mass Customization through Services – Personal Styling?
Emerging companies in America such as Stichfix, Mens Style Lab, Mix and Match Box, Le Tote , Trunk Club and the list goes on, have started creating mass customization through online “personalized” styling services at a lower cost while decreasing fitting complexity through strong online curation.
Most of these companies deliver 5-15 selected items depending on the price point/range the client chose where the box is sent to its clients’ homes monthly according to a set of questions they’ve asked you, phone calls, your social media profile etc… The customers usually pay a $20 -60 fixed styling fee per month which comes with styling manuals/style cards and allowing the consumer to wear and style their selected items hand picked from their stylist in different ways for diverse occasions.
The only big challenge that all of these e-styling companies have in common though is that they sell on full retail price plus add a fairly large mark-up resulting in fine lines between consumers who do not accept paying full price and go to Old Navy instead to buy a “look alike” product that was recommended versus the consumers who understand the value behind a customized styling service and who are willing to pay the full price.
One of the platforms previously mentioned, Le Tote, allows you to rent the clothing for as long as you wants or purchase them. As long as the boxes are eventually returned, the “personal stylist” will send over a new surprise tote as well as doing the laundry service and covering the shipping fee on the items shipped.
After analyzing these platforms and a bunch of consumer feedback on Youtube, I realized these services are especially valuable for the maternity mothers as well as men’s market as you can continuously receive and reship styles every month for a price of as low as 20-30$ per month with the support of a personal stylist, its like NetFlix!
Although I was interested in buying a package for my Dad for Christmas ( who’d really need it!!!), I’m just asking myself if the significantly increasing amount of delivery and freight involved in these types of business models is really something sustainable for the environment in general. Its not as easy to answer as you might think.