Manufacturing a perfect product that fits everyone’s demand is a daunting task. Every customer is unique and has specific requirements that are impossible to be met through mass production. And as more consumers are embracing the “one-size-doesn’t-fit-all”, more brands are actively looking for solutions that will help them adhere to their demands. Therefore, the need to offer customization services arose. This new business model has helped many fashion brands to stand tall in the fashion business and let their customers experiment with their looks. Likewise, the online product configurator tool enables fashion luxury brands to reinvent themselves in the ever-changing landscape and allows buyers to customize a wide range of products, such as clothes, shoes, sneakers, jewelry, hats, caps, and many other products. The tool allows customers to change the fabric, style and minute details of the product they have bought and preview it using digital solutions.
Product Configuration Tool Allows Brands to Make Strong Move on Sustainability Front
Fashion retail, we know it, has transformed drastically, and as a result, many customers don’t want to go with the already available products and are rather more interested in designing products for themselves. Besides, peeping into buyer’s brains and trying to understand what they will like the most has been an overwhelming task. Buyers can always find something wrong with the item they purchase; either a perfectly fitting will have an inappropriate color pattern, or the size is unavailable when the color is good. They can find even a minute mistake in beautifully designed jewelry, and it goes on. Thus, it becomes challenging for brands to satisfy their customers and meet every requirement they have put forth. Many fashion-tech experts sat down to discuss to come at a middle ground that allows them to sell faster and offer services that could be charged, and offer customization was the best bet they could have ever asked for. This solution allows them to let customers participate in their designing process and meet each person’s demands.
There are numerous ways fashion brands can offer customization services to their customers through their online or offline stores for clothes, shoes, and accessories. Your clients can choose various colors, fabrics, styles, and sizes, and many other things. These factors prompt more buyers to experiment with their looks and turn as many heads around as possible. Who wouldn’t like to be asked, “from where did you buy this?” Customization works in various ways for brands and customers and allows them to be unique, as lesser people would wear the same outfits. Also, it helps brands to become more inclusive and embrace people of all color, creeds, gender, and race. The new-age solution enables brands to forget about the lack of half-sizes and get perfectly fitted items. Besides, it helps buyers save some time to search various stores and come up with nothing. They can now directly tell their favorite brands about what they desire, and brands would them a wide range of options that to choose from. Custome-made products offer a lifetime opportunity to their buyers to design their clothes, footwear, handbags, and many other products that also boosts their creativity.
Since the fashion industry has evolved so much in the past couple of months, many new trends have ventured into the domain. And those who are reluctant to innovate fast and change with time will certainly be left behind. One of the key areas where fashion retailers need to innovate is personalization, as fashion-conscious consumers want to walk out of a store feeling that the clothes they have just bought are uniquely suited to them. Tailored fashion trend is already starting to grow upstream, and the recent technological innovations enable brands to dig deeper inside customers’ brains and understand what they like and dislike to offer better recommendations. In fact, manufacturers and retailers use data stores in their portal to analyze consumer preferences and use them to guide their designing team and satisfy their customers.
These developments indicate that customization offers various benefits to the brands, and those who are willing to grab it, will flourish in the fashion. The biggest feature that made-to-measure brings to the table is sustainability. As we all know, sustainability and tailored solutions go hand-in-hand. Together, they enable fashion companies to balance their revenue and nature by adhering to ethical standards of manufacturing products and ensuring that profits flow through various channels. Let us look in detail and understand how made-to-measure solutions drive the fashion sector and enable it to revamp its business module.
Here are some practices followed by leading and emerging fashion luxury brands follow to pace up with the eco-friendly trend:
- Using Naturally Occurring Products
Customer demands for products are high; they expect to be of high-quality manufactured using natural materials and ethical practices. To meet these, brands had to brainstorm and incorporate some radical techniques, and as a result, they did create collections that checked all the requirements, and the end-product was charged more. Now, this may surprise you that most people were interested in buying extravagantly priced products because they cater to the environment’s needs. According to a study by McKinsey and Company, 67 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more because they consider using sustainable products more crucial. As a result, numerous sporting goods brands lifted net new sustainable products available from 18,000 in 2012 to 72,000 in 2020. Natural materials have strong potential for growth within that landscape, as McKinsey says consumers are looking for brands that meet current needs without jeopardizing the needs of future generations.
The expectations for eco-friendly apparel, especially in the activewear sector, is rising exponentially, as buyers want their athleisure to be stretchy, waterproof, sweat-wicking, machine-washable, quick-drying, breathable, and streamlined. Meeting these requirements is a daunting task, as activewear is especially regarded as a pollutive apparel category. For many years, brands have used synthetics, such as nylon and polyester, to manufacture apparel. Nylon, polyester, and other synthetics shed microplastics into waterways, a problem compounded by how frequently workout clothes are typically washed. So-called sustainable activewear that doesn’t fall short on function has proven elusive; some in the space have even said that synthetics are a necessity in performance wear. However, several fashion brands have brainstormed and worked hard to crack environmentally safer activewear, until now, they have failed miserably.
Many brands are positioning their products as sustainable by using recycled nylon or polyester offer limitations for their growth and the negative impact on the environment. Experts believe that synthetic materials shed microplastics, whether virgin or recycled, raising questions about how many times these garments can be recycled. However, several other fabrics are seeing the light of the day and are being incorporated into the production. Materials like wool and other natural materials are on the rise in sportswear. In fact, brands, including Lululemon, had overhauled its nylon use and offered an alternative made from plant-based, renewable inputs, including corn, cassava, and wheat. Besides,Finisterre, an outdoor brand, uses merino wool in its base layers, made with biodegradable polyamide.
- Developing New Materials
The fashion industry is considered the biggest contributor of pollution across the globe; therefore, it is the need of the hour to adopt strategies that ensure the industry refrains from harming more environment. To attain this target, brands are now focusing on developing new materials that reduce the sector’s carbon footprints. Therefore, this month, Allbirds launched sustainability sneakers made using natural materials, including its signature wool and eucalyptus fibres, unlocking a potential achievement for the activewear space — that is, if its line of bike shorts, leggings and running tops pass the performance test. After researching and developing for two years and over 70 iterations, the brand has launched its apparel collection to perfect the new collection of performance wear. The brand claims to have reduced around 700 million tonnes of carbon annually, as the natural materials carry the potential to become carbon sinks through supply chain innovations like regenerative agriculture. Unlike polyester, the naturally occurring materials have helped brands to remove stains from the environment.
However, the lack of certification for regenerative agriculture creates confusion among fashion houses as there is no straightforward regulation that can be followed and causes ambiguity in the market. Consequently, it is high time for the experts and leading stakeholders to come up with a set of rules to reduce this ambiguity. Nonetheless, The Savory Insititute’s Ecological Outcome Verification, headed by Kering, is one torchbearer that can inspire other brands to measure the global impact of their switch to regenerative agriculture above and below ground. However, we have to ensure we aren’t so much in offering sustainable products that we have to forget we have generations to feed, and overuse of naturally occurring materials can lead to greenwashing. There has to be the right balance in what and how much we are manufacturing. Some experts believe that moving towards natural materials is crucial to reducing the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels. But it is also true that relying solely on the naturally occurring fabric would mean upstream sustainability and downstream durability. Customization is one solution that can help brands control the over-extraction of regenerative agriculture.
The3D product configurator offers personalization solutions to apparel, footwear, handbag, and jewelry brands and enables them to keep track of their production. As customers decide what kind of color, fabric, and style they require, retailers and manufacturers won’t have to produce anything beforehand. This will enable them to manufacture products in a controlled manner and prevent any type of overactivity that is harmful to nature. And when people are so actively involved in designing their products, there are fewer chances for them to dump them in the landfill. Luxury houses should be able to encash on this emotional attachment of people and use it to make them a part of your designing team and boost their creativity.
- Increasing Recycling Capacity
Development and innovation are backbones of the fashion industry, and when brands hit the dead-end, from where there is nothing forward, they can always opt for recycling their products. Recycled products never fail to impress people as it helps them relive the memories and wear something that has never gone out of date. Old wine in a new bottle approach can help brands think beyond seasonality and trends and enable them to make strong and bold statements. In fact, many designers use a hybrid approach that will allow them to balance fashion and environment in the appropriate amount. Albion designers follow the same rules by adding harmful materials that offer longevity to the product in the otherwise sustainable product. A longer lifespan in second-hand retail ensures creating a product that will be utilized to the maximum, which means providing maintenance and repair, even upgrading products to extend their lifespan.
Similarly, many other brands, such as The North Face, is focusing on increasing their recycling capacity by reducing the number of materials per garment, whether natural or synthetic. The brand has also incentivized consumers to donate used garments at retail drop-off points in exchange for store credit in the last four years. Therefore, brands have to understand that sustainability isn’t a binary state or a single box to tick; instead, it is high time they constantly make an effort to reduce impact and improve what is commercially available. And this trend is not only common in the apparel sector, but gradually picking up pace in the jewelry sector as well. Therefore, celebrities like Linda Evangelista, Emma Watson and Olivia Wilde wear jewelry by Article 22, a brand that emerged as a cult favourite. The collections are ideal to stack and layer for a cool but sophisticated effect, from dainty hoop earrings to elegant pendant necklaces. Made from undetonated bombs dropped across Laos during the Vietnam War, jewels start at 40 pounds for the original story bangle, and a necklace can be found at 85 pounds. Each piece of jewellery helps the Mines Advisory Group to make lands safe, and the brand’s designs are now sold in more than 40 countries.
Leading sports brandPuma is working on similar grounds as it has launched a new ‘Down to Earth’ capsule collection. The new shoe collection is inspired by eco-friendly practices, with apparel and footwear created using recycled materials. It has been named the “do good, look good” capsule. It features apparel pieces that are clean and minimal with fun, playful graphics, created with at least 30 per cent recycled cotton. While the footwear designs feature at least 20 per cent recycled materials at the upper and bear the legend “respect mother earth”.
- Shunning Use to Too Much Cotton
We all know that plastic is infamous for its harmful effects on the environment, and therefore, plastic disposal bags have been banned by many governments. They are known to cause unnecessary environmental problems as they take centuries to decompose. They start as fossil fuels and end up in landfills and the ocean, truly one of mankind’s worst inventions. We also know they create more greenhouse gas emissions and more toxic air pollution, exacerbating the climate crisis. But did you know that excessive, or rather, single-use of cotton tote bags is dangerous for the environment? Shocking!!
The cotton bags have the image of a cute reusable option that became synonymous with conscious consumerism and entered the world of fashion marketing. And as the trend reached its peak, you must have come across many celebrities and fashionistas proudly touting their bags. It gradually became an easy advertising tool that was often freely given away without a purchase required. From magazine subscriptions like the iconic New Yorker to museums, cultural institutions, supermarkets, department stores and indie boutiques, the cotton tote is everywhere and can usually be acquired at no cost. However, a recent study it was revealed that it takes 54 years to offset one organic cotton tote bag. A finding published in The New York Time by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food cites that an organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times to deduce its overall impact of production. Most people who own more than one tote would require several lifetimes of wear and offsetting. The fashion industry seems to have a new problem amongst its sustainability efforts. Besides, it also states that cotton by nature is extremely water-intensive, which could be interpreted that it requires between 10,000 and 20,000 litres to produce one kilogram of cotton. Therefore, it is challenging to recycle a cotton tote bag that already has many logos that remain uncut from the bag.
However, there is a silver lining, the Danish assessment further states that producing cotton is the best practice that one can follow, but it should be kept in mind that it should be manufactured using less fertilizer and pesticides, conventional cotton requires fewer resources and therefore also less wears for offsetting. Also, it says that single use of anything is a bad idea. The best way to reduce one’s footprint is to stop acquiring more cotton totes and bags and use those we already have until they are no longer useable. This notion has been applauded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation‘s Make Fashion Circular campaign. They firmly believe that the cotton tot dilemma is that more people should be made aware that overusing any product can cause damage to nature in unimaginable ways. People should know about the unintended consequences of people trying to make positive choices and not understanding the full landscape.
- Taking Up New Initiatives
Sustainability isn’t a new concept in the fashion industry, and many of its branches, such as take-back programs, clothing rentals, and resale apps, are now the talk of the town. In uncountable articles, the sector has been blamed for its exhaustive usage and damage to the planet; as a result, we are at the beginning of the climate crisis. The planet is heating up, and brands are starting to notice that it’s time to do something about all of the clothing we have. It has been reported that about 80 per cent of clothing worldwide ends up in landfills. Though governments are implementing more stringent rules for sustainability legislation and tackling these staggering numbers, it is not enough. Brands have to seriously consider their supply chains and other ways to reduce their environmental impact, and one way to do it is by the circularity model.
When products are designed with circularity in mind, the end of life is considered alongside the beginning so that, at the end of its days, it can be recycled back into fibre and returned to the supply chain. Even this model indeed has some loopholes, but as this new concept is making its way in the industry, more brands are willing to transform their strategies for the better. The rise in the resale app is an example of this effect. With the upsurge in in-house reselling, more clothing sees a new life, or multiple, rather than being sent to thrift stores or landfills. The rising consumer awareness is leading brands to adopt a more transparent supply chain and sustainability metrics. The more brands seek certificates for a story, like Green Story for their Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and transparency data, the closer we get to important changes at the manufacturing level. Yes, it is not a perfect solution, but with time, brands and buyers have gradually started to grasp the significance of diverting clothing from landfills and tracking its impact on the environment.
On the same note, the leading fast-fashion brand,H&M, in an effort to change its image and impact on nature, has announced that its Global Change Award for 2022. The brand is calling on early-stage innovations challenging to transform the fashion industry to apply. The award was first introduced in 2015 by non-profit H&M Foundation, in collaboration with Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology to acknowledge and reward brands and people that are contributing to a planet positive fashion industry by addressing the earth’s global commons: land, water, oceans, climate and biodiversity.
In a nutshell, the fashion industry is a continuously evolving industry, and therefore brands working in it have always to be on their toes to meet the demands put forth by the customers. However, they shouldn’t become so blind in meeting these needs that they forget they have a duty towards their planet. Brands should find a middle ground where they can earn more revenue while also checking its impact on nature. Though it might seem a daunting task, the product configurator tool by iDesigniBuy has got your back. The customization tool offers digital solutions to brands and allows their customers to design their fashion products virtually and do their bit for the planet.
If you are willing to dive in more,