Brand 'Me': The New Generation of Custom Clothes
by Nate Heasley for Digital Living Today

Your closet is probably full of brand names like J. Crew, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, and likely, no small amount of Gap. But while your wardrobe may reflect your style, it is not truly personalized - you can only buy the style and colors that the clothing companies offer each season. With the latest market trend of "mass-customization," however, you can tailor your wardrobe to truly reflect your own style and get exactly the colors, styles and fit that you desire.

Mass-customization has been a buzzword in the clothing industry for a few years now. The idea is simple: let the consumer have near-total control over the design, and tailor-make the clothing for them. Hong Kong tailors have been doing this for some time, but the selection was limited to suits and shirts. Now, thanks to the power of the Net, you can custom-tailor lots of products for only a little more scratch than buying off the rack.

Interactive Custom Clothes Design Company is one of the most comprehensive mass-customization sites around. Currently, it offers complete customization of pants, jeans, bags, dresses, and shorts. IC3D will also soon offer T-shirts, jackets and reversible leather-suede pants. The site is well-designed, leading the customer through a series of choices and displaying the virtual products in real-time. Want a pair of leopard fake-fur, flared, side-zipper, cuffed, cargo pants with purple stitching? You got it. Too freaky for the office? Want the same style in black khaki? No sweat. Matching custom-fit courier bag? It'll be in the mail within a week. Or maybe you already have a pair of pants that fit great, but they’re old or you want them in vinyl instead? Just send your pants to IC3D and they will "CopyCat" (replicate) them in any fabric you want.

IC3D is definitely on the cutting-edge of mass-customization -- future plans include full-body laser-scanners in major retail stores. Go in, get zapped for precise measurements, then order what you want from their Web site - they keep your measurements on file. And since they're dedicated to truly custom products, if you want something but don't see it on their site, they're open to email inquiries.

Other sites offer more limited customization. Maybe what you need is the proverbial little black dress. BlackFrock offers customization for just the perfect little cocktail number that you can't seem to find anywhere in your size. Scoop neck, mid-length, short-sleeve - it's all up to you. Sizing is standard though, so it's not yet true customization.

Both Nike and Levi's have mass-customization sites that let the consumer make more limited decisions about their branded products. Nike ID allows customization of three styles of shoe (per gender), with up to four different base color schemes, five accent colors, and eight logo colors for a whopping 120 possibilities. On top of that, an eight-character name, slogan, or company name can be added to the back of the shoe so it’s absolutely unique. And being unique will only cost $10 more than wearing what everyone else is wearing.

Levi's Original Spin service lets you get that perfect-fitting pair of jeans in just the style and color you want, though the choices don’t look all that different from what you can find in stores. But for those people for whom the perfect-fitting pair of jeans is some sort of Holy Grail of leisure, there's no beating a custom-tailored pair of Levi's.



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