There sure is a lot of buzz around product personalization and customization in the fashion news lately. Lead trend forecasting companies like Stylesight have picked up on the latest upswing of custom or mass customized clothing experiences. They attribute this reincarnation of custom as a result from consumers looking to have a valuable experience with the clothing manufacturer, where the product is the outcome of the experience itself. This concept of production is typically broached in the customization of shoes in the sports apparel industry.
For example, the massively over exposed NIKEid project has become the norm for athletic shoe manufactures, comprising of a small portion of their overall product line up where consumers have the opportunity to have a say in the look and style of their purchase. Competing shoe manufacturers like NewBalance, Reebok, and Adidas have also started using product configurators to have consumers create their own combinations of colors and materials. Success, I assume, from the shoe customization is now fueling customization of apparel products. The North Face, possibly the best known brand, has taken their iconic Denali Fleece Jacket to the people (http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/mens-custom), allowing consumers to customize colors of the fleece, taslan, zippers, pulls, and adding a custom message on the label.
Wild Things (http://www.wildthingsgear.com/wild-things/make-it-wild.html) encourage you to ‘make it wild’ where you have the option to configure three different styles and weights of jackets from their collection. In addition to changing colors of the fabrics and trims, you can also choose the weight of your fill, fabrics, and locations of pockets or optional hoods of jackets like the Custom Loaded Puffy!
Mind you, to this point, there has been no mention of customization of size, only a modular clothing approach to personalize the appearance of the pre-configured style. Enter Beyond Clothing (http://www.beyondclothing.com/). Although you have less control over the look (other than color) of the jacket, they allow you to input a comprehensive mix of body measurements in addition to custom fit options like torso proportions, arm length, and preference for snugness. Additionally, you can customize their entire product range which includes pants.
This surge in the sports apparel industry to bring personalization of products out of footwear and onto the rest of the body is an effort to create an experience for the consumer to have a say in the design of their own product. Researchers explain that the result of the personalization process is that the consumer obtains a product suited to their needs and tastes. By personalizing a product, the consumer directs time, effort, and attention to the product which can increase their level of attachment (Mugge, Schifferstein, and Schoormans, 2004). This satisfaction is a result in a positive experience with the brand as well as the product itself. From a design researcher perspective, I think this a great opportunity to involve users to create more on-point products that consumers are satisfied with. Their satisfaction ensures future success of the brand, and satisfaction of the consumer. It is a win-win for the Custom Loaded Puffy!
Mugge, R, Schifferstein, HNJ & Schoormans, JPL 2004, ‘Personalizing product appearance: The effect on product attachment’, in A Kurtozu (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Design and Emotion, Ankara, May 2004, The Design and Emotion Society, Ankara, Turkey.