The power of customizing something has always come with a cost. Along with a potentially hefty price tag, personalizing and receiving the final product can take anywhere from seven days to seven months. A vendor that sells customized items also needs to account for demands to reconfigure and align to various trends, which can also be extremely difficult to manage. Now, big-name retail stores are trying to keep up with the latest and greatest technical evolutions to provide a better user experience. Adidas is trying to speed up its merchandise manufacturing process to give customers the power to design, manufacture and buy a customized merino wool sweater for $215. So it’s finally time to say goodbye to Great-aunt Gertrude’s knit gear.
Although a simple concept on paper, the “Knit for You” initiative is anything but. The German fitness company has been testing a store in Berlin that allows customers to design a sweater by going through a body scan. Initially, shoppers must enter a dark room where colorful and adjustable laser beams are projected onto their bodies, allowing for interactive customization. After they pick their size and favorite patterns, the Adidas shoppers can get their selection knitted by a state-of-the-art machine within hours. Each sweater is knit, washed, and dried in-store. For quality control, store associates finish and screen the sweaters before handing them over to their designers. According to Adidas Brand Chief Eric Liedtk, “If we can give the consumer what they want, where they want it, when they want it, we can decrease risk … at the moment we are guessing what might be popular.” Therefore, personalization at scale can become an important tool when it comes down to leveraging marketing tactics. Many shoppers will not only find the appeal behind customizing their own clothes, but also within the experience. It’s rare nowadays to come across a retail store giving you access to some of the tech world’s hidden possibilities. In fact, the store is part of a research project supported by the German government in cooperation with academics and industrial partners. Word is that the data and feedback from the project is still under evaluation. It is still uncertain if the company will decide to pursue the concept and extend it to other stores. Imagine a world that gives consumers the possibility of customization — even if they aren’t friends with the designer. Just remember, that in the Adidas world, “Impossible is Nothing.”
Similarly, a customer can visit a retailer website and create a personalized product by selecting from a wide variety of materials, colors, shapes and designs through Dassault Systèmes’ 3DVIA Make. Before purchasing, they can see the selected product from a 360-degree viewing angle, just like with the technology Adidas has incorporated. The personalized piece can then be 3D-printed and sent to the consumer within a few days. Recently, the software platform has been used by Cecile Raley Designs, a jewelry brand that has given customers the power to create one-of-a-kind jewelry online that can then be printed through 3D technology. The 3DVIA Make and additive manufacturing have been driving innovation in the fashion industry. Cutting-edge technology at Dassault Systèmes ties together with that of Adidas’ “Knit for You” initiative by bringing personalized fashion experiences to consumers.