One of the key themes I am looking to explore this term building up to my FMP is customisation and consumer empowerment. This is on the basis that allowing the consumer to take part in the process of garment production allows them to take ownership of their image and personal identity. One of my research outputs for 7003 involves mapping the existing democratic fashion landscape, as a starting point to build my own concept. During this research I came across an article which documented what it perceived to be the ‘best online customisation clothing stores’. http://lifehacker.com/5909754/five-best-online-custom-clothing-stores
What is it? An article documenting the 5 best online custom clothing brands. This is an article rooted in primary research as the content is based on the opinions of it’s readers. Who wrote it? How does this inform my research process?
- This article highlighted how customisation is most commonly understood as tailoring – for the majority of these brands, the consumer had no say in the inherent design of the product, they just provided their measurements so it could be tailored to fit them.
- Where consumers did have an input in the design of the product, this was in the form of a style bank mass customisation model, where particular elements such as colour, pattern, material and style could be altered to the consumers tastes.
- The majority of these brands centred on menswear in the form of suits and shirts. This was unsurprising as customisation and tailoring is traditionally associated with men’s workwear a la Saville Row. The composition of these products and their history as made-to-order makes them both an easy product to customise, and a familiar concept to market to the consumer.
- The one womenswear brand shortlisted called ESHALTI, again provides a range of standardised product designs which can be tailored to fit the individual consumer. Where the consumer does have a say in the inherent design of the product, their choices are limited to colour and pattern. A quick secondary research analysis of the website, revealed the brand to be quite dowdy and undesirable. Obviously this is from my perspective, however acknowledging rather than restraining this subjectivity is important as I align myself with the demographic I wish to cater for.
- This article reinforced my perspective that there is a gap in the market for both a more personal, design-based customisation experience, and a broader consumer focus outside of men and workwear.
- In particular analysis of ESHALTI also reinforced the need to make this style of retail experience aspirational if it is to be bought into by the kind of consumer I have in mind, through both the products on offer and the nature of the experience. Despite desiring a space where I can have a say in the fashion products I consume, and participate in the process of their creation, as a brand ESHALTI’s products, it’s visual identity/constructed image and the basic, unexciting customisation it offered did little to fulfil this for me.