If mass production was about making more, then mass customization is about producing the right product, adapted to individual tastes at the right price. Driving this change is technology that allows clothing manufacturers to manipulate designs quickly at minimal cost, and produce in shorter and more cost-effective runs. In todays apparel market, consumers desire to personalize the style, fit and color of the clothes they buy. This review article gives some insight of the Mass Customization.
Before the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, products were hand made for each individual requirement. A tailor, for example, would measure each customer, ask about the preferred style, fabric, color, hang and fit and then make the garment as a 'one-off'. Inevitably, though, the cost of goods was high. Industrialization changed all that. Mass production became a cost effective method of manufacture, with long runs of similar products made in the most efficient-most automated-manner possible. Prices fell and people had more spending power. This led to an eventual circle of market demand where consumers could afford what they wanted-and began to want different things.
These changes coincided with technological developments that enabled standard designs to be adapted at low cost. Products could be 'mass customized'-individualized and adapted to different tastes at an affordable price. So if mass production was about making more, mass customization is about producing the right product. And if manufacturers can change designs quickly at minimal cost, then shorter and shorter runs become cost effective to the point where each customer can be provided with exactly what he or she wants.
In terms of clothing, mass customization does not mean a return to the process where items are produced from scratch for each wearer as in the couture industry or traditional bespoke tailoring. It means manufacturing 'en mass' standard designs which have their sizes adapted to fit the individual; designs that are adapted with different pockets, cuff shapes, fabrics and colors; and standard products that are personally embellished in some way.
About the Author
The author is a Senior Lecturer in Department of Textile Technology, Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore