Today, I think fashion is moving towards customization. To date, fashion on the Internet has ridden three waves. The first was a promotional wave, where a website was a marketing tool to support a brand or a store. People went online to research products, but largely bought offline in physical stores.
When e-commerce started to pick up, fashion rode the next wave, which was all about product selection and pricing.
Next, it was about access and curation. Fashion surfed nimbly on this wave. When selection and deals were no longer enough, the opportunity shifted to providing hard to find things — even at full price. It was in this environment that Moda Operandi was born as a members-only, pre-tail site, offering customers early access to covetable runway looks from luxury fashion brands.
But now there is another wave upon us. This wave is about expression and self. It is about empowering people to put their personal stamp on things they care about. It is about helping people create items that cater specifically to who they are. This wave is about customization.
Magnúsdóttir is spot on! As society becomes more homogenized — we as social animals have a desire and desperate need to stand out from the pack, and yet be part of the herd. The boom in the number of tattooed people is a reflection of that social need to standout and tell your own story. Clothes have always allowed us to standout. But as the world has become more uniform — thanks largely in part to the rise of fast fashion.
There is an opportunity to capture the shifting zeitgeist. I find newer services such as made-to-measure shirtmaker Trumaker marry the economics and convenience of the Internet with a degree of personalization that is plenty for normal people. I don’t think I am a designer, but I do know what colors, fabrics and collars I like on my shirts and how I want them to fit me. (Hint: not slim)
I ended up ordering a couple of shirts from them on a lark and found the experience so good that I ordered a few more and have even recommended them to my most finicky friends. Though twice the price of Banana Republic or J. Crew or Brooks Brothers, they are many times the quality and a 100 times better when it comes to fit.
I think it is not just fashion — the growth in the number of startups experimenting with new kinds of food delivery such as my friend Rob and Emily LaFave’s Forage. Mass customization in other industries seems to be on the horizon — and while I don’t think anyone has really figured it out, we are definitely going to see more talk of customization.