Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing


Joseph Pine Comments on the Progress of Mass Customization

In a newspaper called the St. Petersburg Times (Florida, USA), Mark Albright writes about ‘Tapping a Market of Misfits‘, which describes how a couple set up an online store, ForTheFit.com, that specialises in clothing for men of 5 feet 9 inches or less in height.

While ForTheFit.com is not a mass customizer, the article also looks at developments in mass customization technology for the apparel sector, such as Archetype’s success with own-brand retailers. It also includes comments by B. Joseph Pine, author of the landmark 1993 book ‘Mass Customization’. He is quoted as saying:

“Mass customization will be to the 21st century what mass production was to the 20th century. The apparel industry is at the leading edge because garments have few pieces (16 for a pair of shorts) and lend themselves to modular assembly.”

A large amount of research has been carried out in recent times on scanning a person’s shape to determine their sizes for various types of clothing. However, the St. Petersburg article notes that precision laser scanning can take twenty minutes. This is an inconvenience that most casual shoppers would reject.

One possible solution to this issue is the idea of a customer getting a body scan once, and being able to use that repeatedly, a sort of virtual representation of physical attributes. The Higgins Project, which Frank Piller outlined recently, may be a roadmap to achieving this goal.

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