The trend was first started in 1995. by Levi Strauss & Co. and their “personalized pair program”. Today, it is impossible to count the number of operative custom made online shops. People visit brick and mortar shops less because, even though they can touch the fabric or try a piece of clothing, the style or fabric they want might not be available at that moment. Ordering a custom made suit or dress from a tailor is usually quite expensive, so with technological advances there came the rise of economical individualized clothing.
The online “mass customization” trend has significantly grown in the last decade. Aforementioned Levi Strauss & Co. offered their customers to choose a style, color and fabric, and get individually manufactured jeans. When made-to-order online retailers appeared, consumers suddenly didn’t need to make trips to the shop, because they could find whatever they wanted online. And what consumers wanted then, as they want now, is personalization, and it is the foundation for the custom-made-online-shop philosophy. There is a noticeable rise in demand for custom made products, and that can benefit both the consumer and the business – business owners get a better insight in their consumers’ desires, while consumers get better value for their money.
Big brand names turned to made-to-order manufacturing system. Nike has a customization offer since 1999, giving customers an opportunity for designing their own sneakers for an extra $100. Neiman Marcus did the same with Manolo Blahnik in 2013. Customers at Converse can choose from many different graphic, color and other solutions for their shoes. Gucci’s made-to-measure program also provides customizable options and gives control over their tailored garments to customers. Armani, Prada, Hugo Boss and other world renowned clothing brands all started made-to-measure programs offering personalized clothing.
However, brands like Indochino (a popular made-to-order menswear) never had brick-to-mortar shops. These young made-to-order brands do their business strictly online. Indochino, for example, have a practice of sending a measuring tape and a tailor’s kit with different available fabrics to their customers for $29 and a $29 credit for future purchases. Without having a brick-and-mortar shop, they are able to keep their prices down. Black Lapel will send free measuring tapes – one for you and one for your friend, for a customized piece of clothing. A company called iTailor is a manufacturer of men’s clothing that has its own production facility, ships packages straight from the factory and sells products directly (no middle man). All this allows them to sell their clothing products at very affordable prices. Rigby & Peller Online Lingerie makes made-to-measure lingerie and swimwear, while What Katie Did is specialized for customized retro undergarments and corsetry.
Online shops that give their customers an opportunity of customizing their garments and accessories are on the rise. Giving them freedom and control to do that, they promote customer loyalty which is as valuable as attracting new customers. And there is still space for advance, for being creative and starting new made-to-order sites that will meet more consumer needs.