For thousands of years custom made clothing filled all wardrobes. Mass production, enabled by the industrial revolution, created larger wardrobes with many more clothing options and a conundrum: there is no easy way to find affordable clothing that matches personal fit and style without the common pain points of retail shopping. But wait; this is the 21st century so can technology solve this problem and bring customization to the masses? A look at the upcoming VLAB event, Click to Fit: How Startups are Personalizing Fashion, and one might suppose the answer is yes.
Let’s hope so because I hate shopping for pants. You know the ritual, grab a few pairs of the same pant in different sizes, head to the dressing room and try them on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The perfect pair is never there; perfect fitting slacks come after tailoring, either in the length, the seat or the waist. Where are the perfect fitting jeans? On the same aisle as unicorns and pots of gold. As an added bonus, jeans aren’t tailor-friendly to get the fit just right.
Levi’s introduced Levi’s Curve ID fit system because “All asses were not created equal.” Levi’s Curve ID seems to work for women, making it easier for them to find great fitting jeans as this CBS story reports: Levis Making Customized Jeans for Reasonable Price
While Levi’s Curve ID appears to work for women, men only have a fit guide that displays pictures of the fourteen different fits. Now, not only do you need to know your waist and length, but your desired fit as well. As homework for this post and with fit guide in hand, I tried four fits 511, 513, 514, and 569 during a visit to the mall last week. It took 10 attempts to find the right pair:
Could this be easier? Levi’s introduced Lot No. 1, custom made jeans. After a visit to San Francisco and a price tag starting at $750 a pair, custom jeans can be yours. This solves the problem of personalized fit, but can this level of personalization be done at scale and will customers pay for it?
Made-to-measure men’s shirt company Trumaker found a way to provide great fitting dress shirts that are #BuiltToFit by using outfitters who provide a local fitting and they do it without breaking the bank. Your personal measurements are used again and again to build a closet full of favorite shirts through online re-ordering; bid farewell to the hassle of apparel stores and their concomitant fitting rooms.
For women, Stitch Fix battles the fitting room saga by shipping hand-picked items to you based on your personal style profile. Keep what you like and send the rest back. Your decisions create further insight into your personal style and more unique and interesting pieces come in your next Fix™.
Technology is the enabler for both Trumaker and Stitch Fix who will participate at the VLAB panel April 15, 2014. Without the internet, shipping tracking, inventory management systems and the ability to harness the power of analytics to turn data into insight, these innovative companies and companies like Warby Parker, Outfittery, J. Hilburn, and Zafu would not be able to provide value to their customers by putting technology to work for you.