Is Mass Customization The Future of Fashion?

How can something be mass-produced and yet customized at the same time? In 2013, Alun-Jones, Kirsty Emery and Hal Watts founded the knitwear company, Knyttan. Based in London, England, the founders firmly believe that their specialty, mass customization, is the future of fashion. This process involves the utilization of adaptable, computer-aided manufacturing systems for the purpose of providing customized output. An attractive  trend, this business model melds the low unit cost of mass production with the benefits of individual customization.


Elements of Mass Customization: Source: Manufacturing-geekElements of Mass Customization: Source: Manufacturing-geek


The new face of mass customization

Customization has been around for a while, but now this service has found, via technical applications, a new and meaningful appreciation. It has the power to bind customers to a specific brand simply by going out of the way to please them in their quest for whatever they want and however they want it. Via a web app, Knyttan offers the consumer the opportunity to customize a scarf or dress design and have it made to order in the company factory in London's Somerset House.


Mass-Customized Colors: Source: Innovation-management.seMass-Customized Colors: Source:


How does mass customization work?

Knyttan uses standard industrial knitting machines, which the company claims "produces about 20 to 25% of the world's clothes." It is the software application that makes the clothing suitable for mas customization. Style guides act as templates for countless design variations. Knyttan collaborates with diverse designers to create these guides from which consumers can customize the app.

In the words of Alun-Jones:

"The reason mass customization hasn't happened in knitwear before is that the design tools are very old-fashioned...Knyttan has developed a new piece of software that enables us to make at one minute a red and blue jumper and the next minute a green and white scarf and it just comes out in a flow of completely different items. It's turning these mass production machines intot a unique production method..."


Mass Customization Logo: Source: Innovation-Management.seMass Customization Logo: Source:


How can mass customization affect the design industry?

The process is altering fashion consciousness in the sense that designers are changing their work patterns and focusing on establishing style gudes rather than finished pieces. Knyttan believes that this shift in thinking will affect the design industry on all levels of operation. According once again to Jones: "Even though top fashion designers like Karl Lagerfield or Vivienne Westwood have very strict controls over how their brand looks, they're also looking to create something new for their customers."

The future of mass customization

Sometimes off-the-rack is the best solution for consumers and via this special app, that is now possible. Clothing styles and trends change almost as quickly as they appear and customization helps companies gain insight and fine-tune products so they can gain an edge over their competitiors. By sharing design choices, customers reveal their preferences, which can prove vital to the creation of next year's designs.

Mass customization is an idea whose time has come.

Closing thoughts on design:

A deisgner knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

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