Fit to be tried
Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, October 7, 2002
Don't know how many of you caught the article in The New York Times last week about Lands' End and its custom-made jeans program available on its website.
The key element of the report is that mass customization not only is a possibility — but it's here now.
The program would run like this.
Customers type in their measurements: weight, height and the like. The computer program analyzes the information, creates the dimensions of the pants, and sends the data to a manufacturing plant in Mexico.
A computerized cutting machine creates the pattern, the pants are manufactured, and depending on the volume of orders, shipped to customers in two to four weeks. And the price is $55 per pair, plus $6 for shipping.
In less than a year's time, Lands' End is reporting that 40 percent of all chino and jeans sales will come from its website, a significant and enormously different result from the 10 percent that company executives had originally predicted.
I can hear the questions now. What has this to do with the home furnishings business?
Well, here is the home textiles and home furnishings connection.
We're in a business where you stack the stuff on a counter or in a bin and let the troops, a.k.a. customers, pick and paw over the offerings.
God forbid, someone might need a bed skirt that is longer or shorter than the norm or a pillow case to fit an oversized pillow or even a blanket, comforter, sheet or mattress pad to fit those ever-expanding mattresses.
And in this world of ours there's virtually no such thing as special orders for other than a color or such — and these are a far cry from custom orders like jeans to fit — can take weeks or months depending on a wide variety of complications and excuses.
Since Lands' End now is owned by Sears, maybe they'll get it and translate the custom jeans story to other products, including their soon to be launched home fashions Whole Home business.
And maybe some other folks will get the message and start looking into this new technology. After all, a bed ensemble with an array of fabrics and embellishments has far fewer measurements than a human body.
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