By definition, to personalise means “to make or alter so as to meet individual needs, inclinations, or specifications”. It comes as no surprise that in the digital era of self-expression, fashion brands have jumped at the opportunity that comes with personalisation. Custom-made fashion products build a greater sense of identification – with the brand and the product itself. From Adidas’ ‘Knit for you’ pop-up store that produced bespoke products within a few hours to monogrammed shirt cuffs from an Instagram it-label Anna Quan, we’ve tried to trace the origins of the trend and its potential for future development.
One of the main phenomena supporting the trend is the major change of consumers’ mindset. No longer do they want to follow homogeneous fast fashion (that is widely available). They’d rather create their own identity. Kseniia Galenytska is a Senior Analyst at Euromonitor International. She thinks it is the new generation of consumers who have created a demand for personalised fashion products. “Millennials are becoming disillusioned and eager to recapture their own personal style, seeking unique and individually tailored products that reflect their own values,” she says.
To use fashion as a form of expression of own style and identity seems nothing new – for years clothes have served as an indicator of one’s social class or political and culutral affinities. Still, the way we consume fashion has considerably changed with a shift towards the digital. We buy online, we track trends online, we follow influencers. An avalanche of information and inspiration makes it even more difficult to stand out and personalisation has become both – a new symbol of uniqueness and status as personalised products tend to come with a higher price tag.
Personalization – an opportunity for fashion brands
Founded in 2013, EyeFitU is a ground-breaking platform providing personalized size recommendations to consumers for the apparel and footwear industry. Working with more than 60 global partners such as Yoox-Net-a-Porter Group, Amazon or Asos, EyeFitU aims to reduce return rates, offer a personalized customer journey and bring the fun back into the shopping experience. Isabelle Ohnemus is the Founder and the CEO of the company. She points that investment in technology is key: “It is important for young brands to invest early on in the technology that will offer their customers an end-to-end personalized experience. Investment in data that examines customer shopping behaviour, particularly at transaction level, and clever use of it will ensure that they can offer a tailored shopping experience that is desired from today’s consumer”.
With customer expectations shifting towards authenticity, Galenytska believes that “brands can use this lucrative opportunity to grow” naming the example of Stitch Fix – an online personal styling platform – that uses consumer data and algorithms in order to deliver personalized packages of clothes on a monthly basis.
“A modern consumer is a multi-channel, hyper-informed one,” adds Ohnemus. She points that a modern consumer has clearly defined expectations: “More often than not, this consumer has a wider understanding of a product than the sales assistant”.
What about the future?
How can the trend for personalized products advance? The answer is simple – alongside with the development of fashion technologies. “Not surprisingly, industry experts predict that personalization will only become more necessary and therefore more advanced over the next year or two. The personalized landscape is certainly shifting from segmentation to individualization, meaning that through advanced technology, brands can offer their consumers an even deeper personalized shopping experience,” says Ohnemus.
From being able to design or custom your purchase to personalized styling or size advice, personalization is growing more and more important across all stages of the shopping journey. According to Galenytska, the challenge for brands is to “bring personalized products into the mainstream by reaching the scale, speed of production and delivery that fast fashion retailers provide”. In this aspect, technology data will be key.