Why Customization in the Retail Industry Might be the Way of the Future

When it comes to shopping for clothes, in many cases different store means different fit. This is when clothes customization is your go-to.

When it comes to shopping for clothes, my motto is ‘different store, different fit.” One shopping trip, I remember I literally fit into three different sizes — WTF? And even when the size is more in the realm of normal, it still might not sit right. Not to mention, there’s a sales associate telling me ‘I look amazing,’ when I know I don’t and I’ve overheard them say that to three other people — this isn’t the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This is when clothes customization is your go-to.

Shamil Hargovan, CEO and Co-Founder of Wiivv is sure that the need for customization is on the rise. “If you take a look at trends in consumer and retailer spaces right now, there’s an underlying cultural demand for custom consumer products,” he says in an interview with Forbes.

We’re starting to see more companies like Indochino and Shoes of Prey honing in on the consumer trend too. One Toronto-based bespoke clothing company, Boneset Studio, has even based their entire model off customization, veering away from that of mass production.

Founder/owner Stefanie Ayoub meets with clients one on one, and designs whatever the client is picturing from start-to-finish, be it a dress, a jacket or a jumpsuit. “At the beginning, Boneset was very much an online store but when we started getting requests I began to realize there’s something here.”

Stefanie Ayoub (Image: Aly Zorn)

“We’ve gone so far into the fast fashion world,” Ayoub says, “And now the pendulum is swinging back towards things that are more personal.” Keynote speaker at Retail’s BIG Show, Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president for U.S. market development with MasterCard stated that, “consumers are more willing to spend on experience and retailers who offer custom experiences.”

“Companies are seeing that this does have a lot of potential and they’re trying to offer custom options,” says Ayoub. But the question remains: will fast fashion ever be able to replicate customization? And should they?

Ayoub thinks not. While she says bigger companies can compete in many other ways, her competitive edge is the intimacy of the one-on-one process; mass production eradicates that possibility or makes it extremely difficult. She believes her way of complete customization will always be “its own parallel market” rather than reaching a position amongst mainstream retailers.

Image: Aly Zorn
Image: Aly Zorn

So while brands like Shoes of Prey have found ways to make their offerings more individual to the consumer, they’re still missing that face-to-face interaction and the ability to create something that’s completely one-of-a-kind. However, it doesn’t mean customization on a bigger scale is totally out of the question.

One Boston store is trying to replicate the process for a larger consumer audience. Ministry Supply Shop boasts a 3D printer in the store where customers have a wider breadth of customization options. While the garment can be produced in a relatively short time (three to five days), the 3D printer is still limited to blazers.

It’s a step in the right direction. Although for now, companies like Boneset currently and indefinitely fill the gap where mass fashion’s ability to personalize ends. Sure, your Zara’s and Forever 21’s will always have their appeal, but the trend towards customization definitely begs some meaningful attention.

To learn more about getting a custom garment made by Boneset, head here.

How often do you customize your clothes? Let us know in the comments.

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