Made-to-order: the future of fashion?

Now that several garments are offered cheaper than a sandwich we all know and feel that something is profoundly and devastatingly wrong. But worst of all is the symbolism of it all. Prices profess that these clothes are to be thrown away, discarded as a condom and forgotten before being loved and savoured, teaching young consumers that fashion has no value. The culture of fashion is thus destroyed…The consumers of today and tomorrow are going to choose for themselves, creating and designing their own wardrobes. They will share clothes amongst each other since ownership doesn’t mean a thing anymore. They will rent clothes, lend clothes, transform clothes and find clothes on the streets.

Lidewij Edelkoort, Li Edelkoort publishes manifesto explaining why “fashion is obsolete”, Dezeen, 3 march 2015


For all its flaws and limitations, made-to-order could be a very good model for developing a fashion business in a world characterized by just-in-time manufacturing technologies and an increasing use of the internet to buy and exchange goods and ideas (peer-to-peer trading).

By embracing online customization, providing opportunities to create one’s own unique clothes thanks to the merging of technology and handmade, inspired brands, worldwide, are becoming the catalyst for a new industrial revolution, no longer focused on the maximization of consumption and finally able to make industrial design warmer and more imaginative and artistic.

If fashion is supposed to be one of the ways in which I express myself, why should I buy something because it is “in fashion”, instead of something that suits my style? Society is changing. More and more people want to lead slower, more abundant lives, and they want to have more of a say in the way things are run, which includes the fashion industry.

More creative, demanding, social, value-conscious, entrepreneurial, experimental customers are ready to develop their curiosity, designer skills, by choosing their type of garment, fabric, accessories, embellishments (logos, graphics, artworks), colors, etc.

This is a very promising experiment, because items are manufactured only when needed and this solves the problem of over-production, doing away with mass-marketing for the maximization of consumption and with huge quantities of unsold goods.

Resilience is high in this kind of business because customers are not passive consumers, but directly involved in the process, in a very participatory way. Your success as a manufacturer is their success. They feel encouraged, they can envision new possibilities and make something special for themselves.

From a sociological point of view, premade goods and fixed designs are, in a way, elitist. The only challenge is forking out the right amount of money.

This new (updated?) model allows us to create and grow more conscious about our own purchasing and consumption choices.

It’s [r]evolutionary, sensible, and profoundly democratic. It means involving customers in the creative and planning processes right from the start, helping them develop their talents and knowledge, placing people at the centre of decision-making about resources and multiple options.

By giving people the tools and a more active and interactive role, you challenge them to explore their creative streak; you empower them. This is what democracy is all about.

Of course, – alas! – it is not for everyone, but it is definitely a positive change when creative, entrepreneurial people are enabled to expand their minds and the horizons of possibilities, when they can take their skills into their own hands and deliver something new, original, sometimes delightful as it is, sometimes perfectible.

At bottom, this idea of customizing garments created by someone else is “simple”, practical and brilliant.

It harks back to a pre-industrial, pre-mass-produced era, a time when bespoke tailoring was the norm and when labors of love were probably less infrequent, as crafters and couturiers were prized and quality was more important than quantity.



Etsy and the ecology of crafters and makers, WazArs, 15 February 2015

“It’s the end of fashion as we know it” says Li Edelkoort, Dezeen, 1 March 2015

Li Edelkoort publishes manifesto explaining why “fashion is obsolete”, Dezeen, 2 March 2015

Li Edelkoort: ‘Fashion is dead. Long live clothing, Fashion United, 17 February 2015

Scarpe su misura, Prada lancia “Made to order”, fashion runner point, 15 June 2014

Made to order fashion decoded – Ethan Lipsitz, Luna Vega, 26 January 2015

Made-To-Order Fashion Goes Mainstream, Forbes, 7 January 2013

Bespoke clothes take over as the real fashion luxury, Guardian, 9 March 2013

Intervista a Ethan Lipsitz, fondatore di Apliiq a Los Angeles, MINI Space, 10 luglio 2012

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