Anyone who has waited until the night before a black tie gala can tell you it’s just about impossible to find the perfect dress when you need it. Shopping for clothes in a brick and mortar store allows the consumer to touch and feel the products. But what you have in mind–a certain color, style, or fabric–may not be available. Searching for it can be a fool’s errand.
Ordering the item custom made has traditionally been an option only for bespoke and couture customers. Creating individualized patterns can be time-consuming and expensive. Some shoppers can hop a plane to Southeast Asia and have custom clothing made for a song. But not everyone can get there, or wants to devote time on vacation for fittings in the hope that the finished product will meet their expectations.
Technological advances have created another alternative: economical individualized clothing (call it mass customization) for the middle market. Sizing algorithms and e-commerce enable companies to offer a variety of designs and fits at only slightly more than similar off-the-rack prices. Now consumers can buy made-to-order clothing and shoes online.