This is an interesting read from BoF (Business of Fashion -which I just adore), about how the retail industry is working at customizing clients’ orders.
It’s interesting on several accounts
And remember this is the high-end side of retail and fashion. That means that these are consumers who are used to paying high prices for their fashion. And the most telling quote of the whole article is from Joseph Pine is the author of Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition which talks about how the fashion industry is moving from mass production – a business model that has fueled the American economy
The biggest obstacle of all may be the mindset of consumers, however. “We’re so used to buying off the rack, we’re so used to — women in particular — living with sacrificing our exact size requirements. And we’re so used to buying things on sale, that it’s very difficult to get around that,” Pine said.
Finally someone has said it out loud: Women are used to living with sacrificing clothing/fashion requirements. And as if that wasn’t bad enough it “will be difficult to get around that!” Sacrificing your standards for fashion?…. I mean seriously what in the world? This makes no sense.
Maybe I’m so appalled because I’ve never had to do that and neither have my clients or students. Granted I have to do an education primer with my clients that coming to me is not like shopping. It’s almost the antithesis in that it’s a case of too many choices.
Recently a student, realizing that in a month she needs a dressy outfit, so came to me looking for some guidance. She had been asked to be an important part of a family member’s wedding and wanted to have something worthy of the event. Fortunately she already made the decision to sew it. A quick trip to the fabric store (granted I have some nice stores that I can draw from locally), and we found a gorgeous knit for the top and a silk for a skirt. The outfit will make her feel comfy, she’s totally at ease with the style and fashion of the ensemble and it was created with the thinking that she can wear the parts after the event.
This is the sort of customization that the RTW industry can only dream of – even the most high-end side of the industry – at almost any price – well – almost!!! At the very highest point of the high-end fashion, I’m sure there’s complete customization available!
But there’s another big elephant in the room that’s not even being addressed here that’s also at play. Style and fashion of a garment is all well and good, but the fit and shape of the garment is something not even close to the surface of this discussion (much less execution) of mass customization. The retailers can’t go there. If high-end companies are struggling with just the fashion/style side, how are they going to take on a completely other set of variables: fitting?
What my student can do with the customization of her outfit will be remarkable. She has some body issues (and who doesn’t), and we can style this to cover the bad parts and bring out the good parts; neckline will be fashioned to match her jewelry; sleeve length will be comfy for now and later; the size of the skirt, length, and proportioned fullness will all be to her preferences, so that not only will she be comfortable physically in the garment, she will also feel special.
This is something that’s totally foreign in the RTW industry unless it’s at the very tip-top of the high-end business. And in their attempts, even at the high-end side of the business, to emulate certain features (not all of them, but just a small part), they are struggling mightily – and that’s when they know they can charge a handsome sum for the resulting product.
For me, the style and fashion of a garment is key, but lost without a good fit, including proportion. At the same time a good fit with correct proportion is all well and good but without fashion and style, it’s lost. If the high-end side of the RTW industry is having problems with just the fashion side of this and trying to make it work, and not even talking about fitting, how can they hope to compete with the results of sewing. With so many fabulously wonderful fabrics out there and the plethora of individualized fashion that is flourishing (cause this is the way fashion is moving), it’s a great time to sew and to create your own style, look and fit.
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