1 08, 2007

Puma BBQ for Millionaires: Puma cooperates with Italian luxury brand Schedoni to offer special collection of customized shoes

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:45+00:00 August 1st, 2007|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, Failures and Flaws, Footwear, Sneaker|

Puma by SchedoniEarlier this week, I was in London for a workshop. As I had some time to spare, I browsed through Harrods which was just opposite my hotel. In te store, I found at least ten different customization offerings, including custom gold clubs and a “mi adidas” sales unit. But in the men’s shoe department (not in the Sports department!), I discovered a new Puma mass customization offering which was already launched in April of this year, but apparently is so exclusive that I did not discover it before.

To upscale its BBQ offerings, Puma cooperated with Italian luggage maker Schedoni, one of the top Italian luxury brands. The company has a special line of luggage for your new Ferrari, or offers bullet-proof briefcases used by the Italian secret service, and, since a few years, also hand crafted shoes (shoe manufacturing was the original core of the company).

To supplement your Ferrari (or Volkswagen) experience, Schedoni is now teaming up with Puma to offer a line of driving shoes that can be customized with regard to color. In London, I now saw this system in operation. Fitting to the craft nature of the product, the configurator is a low-tech high-touch system. In London, I could play around with the shoe building „Puzzle Kit“ which allows you to choose from a wide variety of leather colors for both the outer leather, and a contrasting leather color that shoes through the familiar PUMA logo in the side of the shoe.

The Motortrend blog knows that “no more than 500 of each combination will be made, and each numbered and personalized.” But for 350 British pounds a pair (almost 700 USD), I personally found this a bit to expensive for a pair of high-end sneakers.

Like with the Puma BBQ system, the Puma-Schedoni configurator will rotate in 50 Puma stores worldwide and will be introduced in selected high-end department stores. The production process will take about 4-6 weeks, and will be performed in the Modena factory of Schedoni. Shoes will be shipped to the customers’ home afterwards.

PumaconfigkofferWhile the press and blog reports that I found about this system all claimed this great combination, the actual display at Harrods was a bit disappointing. Indeed, they had this great leather traveling trunks shown in the picture left (all pictures from PUMA via Pumatalk.com) but sample shoes (in the boxes left and right) and leather patches were unorganized and looked used – and this even in the high-end atmosphere of the Harrods footwear department. This is a typical other example of using mass customization as a brand building exercise. Such a system does not really demand much effort in introduction, but has large press appeal and underlines the fashion appeal of Puma.

What the benefit for Schedoni is, I am not sure. They could have made this as a profitable stand-alone business with much higher margins, I believe, and perhaps a better positioning in the market.


More pictures and reports in Motortrend and Pumatalk
And my previous posts on customized sneakers.

28 02, 2007

Nike is Trying Threadless‘ Crowdsourcing Model

By | 2018-05-07T15:32:29+00:00 Februar 28th, 2007|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation, Sneaker|

More Co-Creation at Nike

NikesneakerplayCoolhunting has an interesting small report on an upcoming NikeID project: They are offering their top-end (fashion) shoe, Nike Air Force 1, in a special co-design version. Starting 6 March 2007, users can design a custom Nike Air Force 1 using the NikeID configurator (how it works in detail). Designs are exhibited on the web, other users vote on the winning designs, and the winning design will then be specially made only for the winner, complete with bling sneaker jewelry.

For this project, Nike is collaborating with Sneakerplay, a social networking site of sneaker enthusiasts (only Sneakerplay members can particpate). While this sounds a bit like Threadless‘ collective customer commitment (crowdsourcing) model, it is different:

Nike takes the community, co-creation, and community evaluation idea, adds an easy-to-use toolkit to enable easier co-design (at Threadless, you have to know Photoshop), but then produces the winning design in a custom manufacturing step just for the winner.

[UPDATE: Just after I wrote this post, Bill commented on this post, saying that this is a good old design contest and not a new crowdsourcing model. And I agree! ]

Why not for everyone? Don’t ask me … it seems to be more like a clever PR pilot then a new business model. But at least it is a start and great idea to live their new „The consumer decides“ philosophy with a different twist.

26 02, 2007

The Consumer Decides: Nike Focuses Competitive Strategy on Customization and Creating Personal Consumer Experiences — Data about the Nike Plus Personalization System

By | 2018-05-07T15:32:34+00:00 Februar 26th, 2007|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Personalization, Sneaker|

NiketitelDuring its recent Investor Days, the Nike top management board announced a strong shift of its strategy from being a sportswear brand to becoming the enabler of customized, personal experiences. “Investor Days” are an extensive briefing for analysts; taking place only about every two years (the last was in June 2005). During its recent briefing at the company’s headquarters in Portland on Feb 6, 2007, the company placed a strong focus on its new global theme “The Consumer Decides” and revealed some interesting facts about its customization ambitions and ways to sustainable consumer experience.

During the meeting, also a number of interesting performance data of the Nike Plus system were provided, the Apple-Nike cooperation that allows runners to customize their running experience in a simple but very clever way. It is a strong contrast to the exploding variety Nike is facing today, offering more than 13,000 product different styles in every single quarter.

First, Nike CEO Mark Parker explained the theme “The Consumer Decides”:

“The Consumer Decides is one of Nike’s 11 maxims that really define who we are and how we compete as a company. Today, consumers have never held as much power as they do today. They have more choices and more access to those choices. They connect and collaborate with each other over the world. … Clearly, the power has shifted to consumers. For every Nike employee, there’s ten million consumers out there deciding whether or not the products and brands we offer really matter. … The ability we have to connect with consumers is the single most important competitive advantage in business today, and nobody does that better than Nike. There is no substitute for connecting with consumers, but it’s really just the beginning.”

Nike’s Brand President, Charlie Denson, focused in his speech on the changing consumer and the particular demand for customization:

[Consumers] want to be part of a community, whether it’s a digital community or a virtual community, or whether it’s a physical community. They want to feel like they’re a part of something. They want to be engaged. …

And another thing that is very, very important to us as we look to the future is the value that the consumer is placing on customization. It’s a very, very important part of the way that they interact with anybody or with brands today. We used to talk about the consumer in what we thought was specific, but in today in retrospect, feels like generalities, the fact that we used to put a 18 and a 22-year old in a same set of psychographic, demographic targets. Today, I can very comfortably say that the 18 and the 22-year olds are working on different — they’re living on different planets or at different places. As Mark said, these consumers have more choices than they’ve ever had.

What our challenge is to keep it simple, make those choices as simple as we can, and make them personal. We’ve spent the last, or in our case, 20 or 30 years trying to bundle things, adding value to a purchase or a relationship. And now, it’s almost in reverse, because you have to unbundle everything if it’s going to become customizable.

During the event, the Nike Plus system was described as a perfect example of this strategy. Trevor Edwards, VP Global Brand & Category Management, describes the system and gives some numbers on its acceptance:

Nike2nikeplusNike Plus „combines the physical world with the digital world. We put a sensor in the shoe that speaks to the iPod, and you can hear how far you went, how long you went and how many calories you’ve burned, pretty simple thoughts. And then, when you dock it, you have a world of information at your fingertips. You get to see all that you’ve done, all your runs stored in a very simple, intuitive web experience where you can set goals for yourself. You can see how you’ve progressed. In fact, this week, I think we’ve put up — you can actually map your run anywhere you go. In addition, you can join in the Nike Plus community where you can challenge your friends or other community members to run physically, but compete virtually. And since our launch, we have close to 200,000 members.

What do the numbers tell us today? First important fact, 35% of the members that we surveyed are actually new to using Nike footwear. So, we’ve brought more consumers into our franchise. The second part is, more than half of them are actually using the survey to service four times a week. And this is probably the most important statistic, 93% said they would recommend it to a friend, 93%. This is an incredibly sticky proposition, a great way to build loyalty for our brand and obviously build the business.”

Charlie Denson describes the growth plans Nike has with the system:

“That is a dedicated consumer experience. It is changing the game, and it’s creating that competitive advantage for us. We would like to see 15% of all runners using Nike Plus, 15%. Now, that’s not a very big number, except for there’s 100 million people who call themselves runners worldwide. ….”

So in summary, this sounds like a big success and stresses that this really has been a clever idea to provide customization in this industry in a rather simple way, but in one that matters for consumers. And with the target of 15 million users, this would be one of the largest mass customization programs ever.

In another section of the event, Don Blair, Nike’s CFO, provided some interesting figures on the scope of variety that Nike is facing today. I often mention in my presentations the explosion of SKUs and variants that global brands today think to have to offer to create appealing products in heterogeneous markets. Nike seems to have recognized that just increasing the number of variants is not the ultimate way to appeal to consumers:

SKU productivity. One of the great strengths of our company is our ability to create compelling innovative products that excite consumers. But there can be too much of a good thing. Each quarter we sell about 13,000 different styles of footwear and apparel and because of our high rate of seasonal turnover, we sell tens of thousands of different styles every year. And there are many additional styles that make it part way through the process, but don’t end up in the final line that goes to market.

Each one of these tens of thousands of styles drives costs; costs for design, development, sampling, transportation, storage and sales. For footwear 95% of our revenue comes from about 35% of our styles and for apparel the figure is about 40%. …”

Costs of samples to provide this variety were given with more than $100 million. Given these numbers, an adaptable product like Nike Plus or a truly mass customized product, produced on-demand, sounds very appealing and much more efficient.

For the full transcript of the investors meeting, go to nike.com.

Read More
14 11, 2006

Offline Customization — Morgan Miller Fashion Shoe Workshop in South Beach, Florida

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:14+00:00 November 14th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Footwear, Offline Customization, Personalization|

Ms. Miller and her shoesMadeforone today discovered the link to an interesting story in the Miami Herald about another off line experience for footwear customization.

So to continue the stream of posting around this theme, here some extracts from the Miami Herald article. For me, the entire concept sounds very much like the Via Della Spiga Concept store of watch maker Swatch where consumers also can co-create (craft) their own custom watches in a store (see old posting on Swatch’s customization store). I believe that there is still much growth potential in this business model.

So this is what you can do – since Nov. 1, 2006 — in Miami at Morgan Miller (1634 Euclid Ave., Miami Beach, 305-672-6658), a customization boutique owned by Morgan Miller, 24, a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in communications:

“Ever find a pair of strappies you loved, except the straps were all wrong Now you can design your own—from the heel up—at Morgan Miller, a unique design-and-go shopping experience that takes only 30 minutes. At 24, designer Morgan Miller, owner of the new South Beach boutique, has put an innovative, rock star spin on the shoe-glutton movement.

We provide the ingredients for women to be their own designers so they are able to put their own stamp on things,“ said Miller, a New Jersey native. Clients choose from a mélange of soles, straps and buckles to create a shoe exactly to their liking, at prices ranging from $150 to $500.

There’s a buffet of kitten heels, cork and wooden wedges of various altitudes and attitudes. There are high heels, low heels and chunky heels in black or white lacquer. Straps can be had from more than 100 options, including lizard, python, ostrich, alligator, leopard-print hide and the leathers: patent, metallic and pearlized. Buckles can involve Swarovski crystals or faux bamboo Strap and buckle samples are attached with Velcro to a wall of black velvet so clients can handle all their options. And once the style combos are chosen, bubbly is served and the foot is measured.”

Another website, Daily Candy , describes the customization process:

Step 1: The base. Stiletto, kitten heel, cork platform — she’s got you covered, from beach to banquet.

Step 2: The strap. Go conservative with black or sex things up with turquoise python — there are plenty of fabrics and colors to choose from.

Step 3: The accessory. You’ve got more than 100 options: Bling out with crystals and jewels or keep it simple with a silver chain or nothing at all. Of course, you’re not expected to actually make the shoes. The in-house cobblers take care of that.

But in the end it is all about the experience, as the Miami Herald writes:

The boutique resembles a candy store for grown-ups. Big candy jars hold rhinestones and other embellishments. Crystal chandeliers illuminate the sparkling shop. The shoes, which can resemble those by Jimmy Choo, arrive a mere half-hour later—on Tiffany & Co. silver platters. … A self-confessed shoe freak, Miller plans to expand her made-to-order shoe business to include handbags and belts, but with a longer turnaround of two-three weeks.

Context information: Previous postings on offline customization stores:
Adidas Paris miAdidas flagship store
Selve Footwear Customization Experience
DNA Style Lab
Korean iFashion project with virtual mirrors
Personalization Stores collection– at CS Scout
Via Della Spiga Concept store Posting in old newsletter

8 11, 2006

Adidas Finally Adds Experiment & Service to its Mi Adidas Product – New mi Adidas Innovation Center Opened in Paris

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:17+00:00 November 8th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, Offline Customization, Sneaker, Technologies & Enablers, Virtual Models|

Adidasparisstore1I recently wrote about the opportunities of bringing mass customization into stores and selling the experience as much as the custom product (see the DNA Style Lab posting). Now Adidas, a premier example of mass customization in my talks and lectures, has expanded its in-store presence with a huge new mi Adidas retail outlet in its new Paris flagship store.

The 1,750 square meter Paris adidas Sport Performance store occupies two floors on the Avenue de Champs Elysees and features a wide selection of adidas products. The core part of this store is a pimped mi-adidas sales system, called mi Innovation Center (mIC):

„The „mi Innovation Center“ will change the way consumers shop and their expectations at retail. It is a true first and we are thrilled to premier the mIC in Paris offering customers a whole new dimension of interaction with adidas products,“ Karen Feldpausch-Sturm, Senior Vice President of Global Retail for Adidas, is quoted in a press announcement. Adidas, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, plans to roll out the new high-tech concept stores in major cities worldwide, including one in China in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Features of the new customization unit in the mIC include:

# A large glossy, black cube is the focal point of the center. Here, customers can customize their own „mi adidas“, using now a larger flat-screen configurator to alter the details of the shoes by simply pointing a finger to the screen. Laser and infra-red technology then translate the gestures into commands. Foot scanning and pressure scanning is done as in the mi adidas stores before.

# New is also a virtual mirror where users can see their personalized shoe on their own foot without even removing ones shoes!

# But customization is not only high-tech: Customers are accompanied by specially trained „adidas experts“ who, like a personal trainer, advise on nutrition, exercise and products. With a portable hand-held PC, the sales associates record a consumer’s personal data and desires, creating a user profile that he/she can view at their convenience via the internet.

# In addition to the cube, the center also provides some insight into new approaches of selling standard products: At a table, a sliding carriage can be moved over a desired shoe and then specific product information will appear on the screen via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Update: On YouTube is now a Video showing exactly the new mi adidas customization process (thanks to Rebang for the link).

I don’t had the opportunity to visit this store in person, but a sneaker enthusiast posted a nice review on the BKRW blog (the reviewer seemed to have not heard before that Adidas is offering basically the same service since 2001, thus not in such a fancy retail outlet):

„Well, to be honest we were really impressed and can’t wait to test it for real (don’t worry we will be in the first row…) ! The concept is really simple, it’s a kind of NIKE ID applied to performance shoes. It means that you can customize our own performance shoes, according to the way u need it. You can change the design, change the colors, add some words or some special tags, but most of all you can even materials of the shoes : sole, mid-sole, chassis, uppers, studs… The truth is that ADIDAS is pushing the whole performance concept with the even way of customizing your shoes, because even being in MI INNOVATION CENTER is a travel into the future: as we said you are running on a video carpet, each salesman has a touch screen tablet to change into real time your adjustments and preferences, while you are directing your mouse on the menu screen by the means of a laser system of pointing…“

Is all this just another marketing gimmick?, asks Business Week in a report about this store.

My answer is yes and no. Regarding customization of the product, it is just a pimped up version of the mi adidas retail units that are in place since years. But regarding the overall strategy of customization, it is a large step forward. For the first time, the company is not focusing on the custom product, but on the custom service and experience users get when purchasing the shoe. The custom nutrition program and fitness guides offer much more value as yet-an-other color-option at NikeID. So while Nike had an easy win with the Ipod-Nike-combination offering individual tracking of your running behavior, I think Adidas has beaten its competition with this integration retail innovation by far – if they are able to scale up this system and deliver what they promise.

Business Week quotes Fiona Fairhurst, director of Zero Point Zero One, a sports consultancy in Nottinghamshire, England, on this:

„These days if you look around the gym, everyone is their own fitness expert. People know how to use heart-rate monitors and measure their own level of hydration …An individual will steer clear of a brand that doesn’t fit properly, no matter how exclusive that brand is. If you know that Adidas fits you perfectly and comfortably then they have a customer for life.“

24 10, 2006

Footwear Customization 3.0: The First Rapid Manufactured Shoe

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:26+00:00 Oktober 24th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Fabbing, Footwear, Long Tail, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Rapid Manufacturerd ShoeFootwear customization brought to a really new level: Today, I had the opportunity to have the world’s first working prototype of a totally new shoe concept in my hands: a 100% laser-sintered shoe. What looks like a normal shoe, is a real revolution and one of the largest achievements I have seen in the mass customization world.

The shoe, developed by Marc van der Zande from TNO Science and Industry (a Dutch research institute) and independent designer Sjors Bergmans of Sjors Bergmans Concept Design, comes out of the manufacturing machine as you see it in the pictures on the left – in one manufacturing process, no assembly required (only some finishing, polishing, etc.)! And no one cares any longer if each product is custom or just a replication of a standard design.

The TNO shoe concept, named ‚Head over Heels‘, is the first application of rapid (digital) manufacturing technologies (more about RM) to an entire product in the footwear industry. Such a concept would allow the rapid customization of shoes to a radical extreme – without any of the constraints of conventional custom manufacturing mechanisms like the need for custom lasts, custom cutting of materials, and a new organization of the work process in manufacturing. With rapid manufacturing, a digital design (CAD) can be transformed directly into a tangible product.

In an earlier venture, UK-Based Prior2Lever introduced a soccer boot that contains a rapid manufactured component, the outsole. But the shoe developed by TNO goes much further. To come up with such a concept, the entire design of a shoe had to be redesigned. A flexible element in the sole allows for high flexibility, and integrated elements in the upper are providing flexible hold.

In the moment, this project is in the proof of concept state. According to a colleague who tested the shoes (in the first design just available in a 38 size), they are at least as comfortable as conventionally produced shoes. Future development will include a wider range of models (including a model for men) and an easily scalable design so that in the end a foot scan can automatically be transferred into a custom design. Also, manufacturing costs have to go down. Today, a pair of rapid manufactured shoes comes still with a heavy price tag of 600 Euros. But TNO project manager Marc van der Zande expects that production costs can be dropped to less than 100 Euro within a few years, given the present speed and scope of application of rapid manufacturing technologies in many industries. With this larger scale, materials and machine costs will become much cheaper.

For me, this shoe presentation today was a great glimpse into the future. Just think five years ahead: Then you may really get your feed scanned, and a moment later, your new shoes will be 3D-printed immediately in the store. With this, the long tail of footwear could be driven to an extreme! But most important, the ‚Head over Heels‘ concept provides a strong further proof that digital manufacturing technologies like laser sintering are not just for prototyping any more, but are rapidly becoming a standard manufacturing technology.

More information on the ‚Head over Heels‘ Laser Sintered Shoe:
– For more information on the footwear design, contact Marc van der Zande (marc.vanderzande AT tno.nl) or Sjors Bergmans (comengo AT gmail.com).
– The concept will also be presented on the TNO Symposium on Rapid Manufacturing, Evoluon Conference Center in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Tuesday, Oct 31, 2006.

Context information:
– Jochen Krisch
recently had a good overview on companies offering rapid manufacturing capabilities for everyone in his blog.
– John Marshall writes about the older, but still great application of rapid manufacturing for the lamps of the Benelux company Materialise.
– And my own more recent posts on customization of footwear, Open Source Footwear and the interview with Sergio Dulio on latest developments in this area.

9 08, 2006

Mass Customization Case Study Collection — New Issue of the Mass Customization Journal Published

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:41+00:00 August 9th, 2006|Books, Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Customization Trends, Design, Footwear, General, Research Studies, Service Customization, Sneaker, Technologies & Enablers|

IJMassC Vol 1 No 4A new issue (No. 4, Vol 1) of the International Journal of Mass Customization has just been published (see here for more general information). This issue is a special CASE STUDY issue containing eight cases from the International Mass Customization Case Collection, an initiative of more than 25 international researchers collaborating to build a broad basis for empirical research on mass customization. The idea of this project, coordinated by Klaus Moser at TUM, is to document current practices of mass customization businesses in a form that allows rich cross-case analysis and learning from previous experiences.

We are happy that we now can present the first eight cases of this collection in one issue, starting with three cases of mass customization of industrial goods:

* APC, a provider of data centre infrastructure from the US and Denmark,
* MarelliMotori, a manufacturer of electric motors from Italy,
* F.L.Smidth, a Denmark-based manufacturer of complex process plants for the construction industry.

Then, three case studies from the footwear industry provide the opportunity for cross-case analysis in one industry:

* Adidas, an international manufacturer of sports goods based in Germany,
* Left foot, a Finland-based worldwide operating provider of custom men’s shoes, and
* Design&MC Lab, a research lab and model plant for the mass customization of footwear based in the Italian shoemaking capital, Vigevano.

The two remaining cases focus on special objectives connected with the implementation of a mass customization strategy in business-to-consumer markets:

* Steppenwolf, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of custom bicycles, and
* Turo Tailor, a Finnish manufacturer of apparel (men’s suits).

See here for authors and abstracts of all cases.

Full text access to the cases demands a subscription of the journal. But: Due to the cooperation with the publisher, we now can offer to all past participants of our conferences (MCPC, Deutsche MC Tagungen, IMCM, etc.) full online access to all issues for a very (really!) good price. Please contact me for more information and to get the special subscription form. Disclaimer: I am neither the publisher of this journal nor do I profit in any form from its sales or subscriptions.

Related posts on this topic:

First issue of IJMassC published
Special issue on Customer Centric Enterprises published

PS: We are extending this collection. If you want to contribute a mass customization case, please contact me as well (Important: Cases have to be contributed by independent scholars, not by members of the case company described!)

3 08, 2006

MC&OI Interview: Sergio Dulio on Advancements and Open Opportunities of Mass Customized Footwear

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:44+00:00 August 3rd, 2006|Customization Trends, Footwear, General, Interview, Sneaker|

With this posting, I will start a new series of interviews with key persons from the mass customization and personalization community. I plan to publish a new interview each month or so. The idea is to provide you first-hand access to the experiences of some of the leading entrepreneurs in our field.

Sergio Dulio The interview series will start with an industry where the benefits of customization seem to be very obvious, but where the level of application is lacking behind the level of available technology: custom footwear. And when talking about custom footwear, no one is a better partner for dialog than Sergio Dulio. Sergio is know to me as one (if not the) world’s foremost authoritis on mass customization of footwear (see his bio at the end of this posting):

Sergio, how did an aerospace engineer come down to earth to revolutionize the footwear business?

I think it has to do somehow with my “roots”. Being born in Vigevano, a town which lived of shoe making until the 1960s and that now lives of shoe technologies, it was inevitable that sooner or later I would get involved. I started almost 20 years ago with CAD systems for shoe design, then worked with machines. More and more I build experience with shoe design and manufacturing processes. Mass customization is my latest passion.

What are the three greatest achievements we have made so far with regard to mass customization of shoes?

I would say that the main achievements deal all with “consciousness”: First, consumers are becoming more conscious — and demanding — of how important it is for them to have the right shoes for their feet and to find producers that really care about them. 

Second, shoe producers are becoming more conscious of the added value that selling made-to-order customized shoes can generate for them. And eventually the consciousness, among consumers and producers, that technology, in particular information technologies, is available to make the mass customization paradigm happen.

Do you see any upcoming trends with regard to new players, technologies, markets, etc. of mass customization in footwear?

I actually see two parallel trends: Outsiders who are fascinated by the idea of modernizing what they perceive to be an old fashioned business like shoemaking and who are starting new ventures for MC shoes. I would call this a hexogen approach to shoe MC. In parallel, I see an endogen movement by traditional shoemakers who realize the potential of MC and are in increasing numbers considering projects of this kind. Form the technology standpoint, I see a progressive consolidation of all the major enablers that are needed to support this business.

What are the best (your favorite) examples of mass customization in the footwear industry?

I would give you three examples: the MiAdidas initiative that I would name “knowledge and German discipline” for the profoundly thought and structured approach how Adidas applies the MC concept to demanding shoes like the sport ones.

Then Selve that I would define “courage and determination” for having tackled the challenging sector of lady fashionable shoes and for not having given up despite the sometimes insurmountable  problems a young and small start up company may have.

And last but not least the American OTABO that I would name “going against the odds” for having decided to start a footwear manufacturing business in the USA when all the other shoemakers had fled away to the famous low labor cost countries

What are the main challenges still ahead? And what are the limits of mass customization of footwear, when does it make no sense?

I believe that the basic technical “building blocks” are all available and in their right place. Forerunners have taken advantage of that. What is still missing is a widespread acceptance of the concept both by the producers and also by consumers. Perhaps an “education campaign” aimed at consumers would help. Honestly, if the concept of MC applied to footwear is clearly defined and well understood, I see no real limits to it and very few circumstances in which it makes no sense.

Apparently, mass customization of footwear is not for everyone. What questions should managers ask themselves when considering mass customization?

I do not completely agree on the fact that MC in footwear is not for everyone. Potentially it could be, from the operational and technical standpoint, adopted by all shoe companies. It is only a question of determination in changing, at least in some parts, the traditional organization of the enterprise.

The questions managers should ask themselves are: Do we know and do we care about our consumers? Are we conscious that caring about them could give an added value to our business? If the answers to these questions are positive, than companies are fit for MC.

Why are so many established footwear companies reluctant to enter the mass customization business – even if they seem to loose more ground to Asian manufacturers each year?

I believe it has to do with “ignorance”, in the sense that they seem to ignore what the business model can bring and they are then afraid by the technical difficulties; I am convinced that the more they will know about what MC can bring and how it can contribute to differentiate their offer, the more they will start to seriously consider it.

What is your personal (recent) contribution to work on these challenges?

I would define it “spreading the Gospel”, in workshops and conferences, in contacts with companies, trying to help them understanding on one side the technical challenges not be underestimated and on the other the benefits that could derive from the adoption of MC.

I recently have been actively involved in many field tests with real shoes and real consumers, which convinced me even further that the efforts are worth it. Last but not least I am working, together with Professor Boer, with whom I shared my experience in coordinating the EUROShoE project, at book precisely on the subject of mass customization and footwear.

One question I am sometimes asking myself is why am I so attracted by mass customization and footwear?  I think it is the fact that it conjugates the fascination of tradition and well made crafts with the combination of latest technologies to obtain these products in a cost effective way.

To conclude: What is, in general and beyond your industry, the greatest mass customization offering ever – either one that is already existing or that you would like to get in the future?

The greatest offering I don’t think it exists yet. It will be there when we will enter the customized shoe shops, go through the measurement and selection process with no need to testing samples, knowing that the shoes will come in time and will be good at the first go. And knowing that my shoes will certain be “made in…my country” and “made with love for the product”. Perhaps a bit utopistic, but certainly not unrealistic.

Brief bio of Sergio Dulio

Sergio Dulio, by training a master in aerospace engineering from the Polytechnic of Milan, joined IBM in 1984 as a member of their first technical support team to the 3D CAD/CAM application CATIA. During this time, he also got in initial contact with the footwear world introducing some of first families of shoe specific CAD / CAM applications. Later, he worked for ATOM, one of the leading companies in the field of shoe machinery, as an expert of leather cutting technology.

In the past decade, he coordinated a number of innovative projects for SINTESI, a footwear research consortium with the Italian National Research Council ITIA–CNR. In 2001 he was appointed by ITIA as the technical coordinator of the EUROShoE project, one of the largest EU funded projects in the footwear field, with 33 partners and a total budget of 17 million €, aimed at the development of technologies for the design and manufacturing of customized shoes. In 2003 he gets a contract with CNR – ITIA to organize, install and activate a Design and Mass Customization Laboratory in Vigevano (the capital of Italian shoe manufacturing), where a pilot factory for the production of customized shoes has been put in operation.

He currently works as a technical consultant for ASSOMAC (Association of shoe machinery producers) and ANCI (Italian association of footwear manufacturers) and helps private entrepreneurs to master the challenges of mass customization in footwear.

Contact him at dulio@tin.it or Tel. +39 0381 905827, Cell +39 335 6664251

Previous postings on mass customization of footwear:

18 06, 2006

Open Source Footwear — bringing customer co-design to a traditional industry

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:57+00:00 Juni 18th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Crowdsourcing, Design, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation|

How the EU-funded CEC project wants to foster customer co-design in the footwear industry — and why star designer John Fluevog is already doing it.

CecWhen people talk about open innovation, in most case it is related to high tech or science products as in the case of Innocentive, or software as with open source software. Then you have hip youth products like T-shirts, as in the case of Threadless‚ user innovation model

[Threadless seems to be omni-present in the press and blog world today (I introduced Threadless in in this blog in August 2005; see for some updates on Threadless Business 2.0, Exciting Commerce, Crowdsouring, Innovation Lab DK, and of course at Threadless themselves).

But can the open source / user innovation idea also work with rather conventional products like, say, shoes? No high-tech sports shoes (see here for a recent paper on user innovation at Adidas, working paper version here), but good ol‘ dress shoes?

This is one of the issues Angelika Bullinger wants to find out as part of the „CEC-made shoes“ project, a large integrated project funded by the European Community (PDF with project info) to modernize the European footwear sector. Angelika, who is a colleague at our TUM Research Group on Customer-Driven Value Creation (my permanent academic home besides my present residency at MIT), explores with researchers from Fraunhofer IAO and other institutions how footwear companies can become more competitive by fostering user innovation in this industry.

One way to do so is to install internet platforms (innovation toolkits) where users can evaluate new designs, give feedback or even create totally new designs. Given that shoes are one of the most common products we use, and also a very emotional one, I believe that there is a lot of potential to do so (mass customization, another concept that is also evaluated in the CEC project, is already getting more common in the footwear industry industry).

And some innovative shoe companies are already doing it: William C. Taylor reports in the New York Times today how Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog, one of the stars of his profession (loyal customers call themselves “Fluevogers“), has been soliciting ideas from its customers — encouraging brand enthusiasts to submit their own sketches for leather boots, high-heeled dress shoes, even sneakers with flair. He posts the submissions on his company’s Web site, invites visitors to vote for their favorites and manufactures and sells the most promising designs.

“Customers want to express themselves, to be involved with the brand,“ Mr. Fluevog is quoted in the article. “For so long, people would hand me a drawing of their personal design for a shoe or ask if I had considered an idea they liked. This program is a natural outgrowth of that desire for connection.“

Some of the results of the OS Footwear project
As the NYT reports, until today the company has chosen nearly 300 finalists from the flow of sketches into its headquarters — and introduced ten shoes based on customer designs, including the Urban Angel Traffic, a walking shoe (retail price, $179) designed by a customer in Moscow, and the Fellowship Hi Merrilee, a vintage-style pump ($189) designed by a customer in Provo, Utah.

Introducing customers in footwear design may have its limits: “Some of the ideas from customers are striking, but impossible to make,“ Mr. Fluevog sayz in the article. What tends to work best, he explained, are intriguing twists on design themes that he and his colleagues are already exploring. “But even submissions we can’t make add to the stimulation,“ he added. “Our customers get more involved, and we get insights into who they are and what they’re doing. It’s better for both of us.“

This is exactly where we want to extend the user innovation process with the research we do for the CEC project. Instead of asking consumers for sketches with a very wide solution space, sometimes representing impossible designs, the idea of an internet based toolkit for user innovation is that customers are guided and are designing within the capabilities of a specific company.

Eric von Hippel, head of the innovation and entrepreneurship group at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has described this method for more high tech goods like semiconductors, food flavors, or plastics, before:

„In a time of ever more talented technology enthusiasts, hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers, all connected by Internet-enabled communication,“ he is quoted in the same NYT article, „the most intensely engaged users of a product often find new ways to enhance it long before its manufacturer does. Thus, companies that aspire to stand out in fast-moving markets would be wise to invite their smartest users into the product design process.“

“It’s getting cheaper and cheaper for users to innovate on their own,“ Professor von Hippel said. “This is not traditional market research — asking customers what they want. This is identifying what your most advanced users are already doing and understanding what their innovations mean for the future of your business.“

The fact that a successful designer like John Fluevog is thinking this way now as well is very promising – as it are often the internal designers or engineers of a manufacturer who oppose the idea that users and customers can be a source for innovation as well.

It will take for the very conservative European footwear industry some more years to think in such a way – judged by my experience from working with this industry (see my earlier comments on the slow adoption of mass customization there). Hopefully their customers, support by some clever Asian manufacturers, have not pushed them out of business until them. But we hope to contribute a bit with the CEC project that this will not happen.

I will keep you posted on the outcomes and progress in this research project. If you are from the footwear industry and want to explore user innovation (or are already doing so), let us know! We are permanently looking for further exploration partners from this industry.

11 05, 2006

Mass Customization As a Strategy to Prevent Plagiarism and Copy Cats in Fashion: Freddy&Ma Designer Handbags

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:11+00:00 Mai 11th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Footwear|

FreddyThis is an interesting new perspective on strategies for mass customization: If you are in a fashion business where your products are copied by copy cats rapidly, mass customization can help as it is impossible to copy this huge variety of styles. This is the motivation of Freddy&Ma, a designer of handbags and accessories, who announced yesterday the opening of an online boutique for designing custom handbags. The website enables shoppers to direct the design process by combining different prints, leathers and hardware options to create original products.

From the press release:

„Most designer handbags are copied within weeks of release. Because Freddy&Ma ensures originality through millions of possible combinations, an F&M customer is unlikely to ever see another person carrying her unique design. (…) President Anthony Pigliacampo notes „Unique is the new black. People want bags that no one else has and that are a reflection of their own style. Our goal is to give them the tools they need to express themselves and to create bags that are truly distinct.“

While I challenge this statement a bit (high end designer handbooks are such a hot item exactly as everyone who can afford to get will get the same design, and the satisfaction from these products comes from peer recognition), there is some truth behind: If the web site allows to design your own bag within a restricted design space so that there is still a distinguish brand image, this is a good strategy.

Freddy&Ma’s bags are produced just outside of NYC and shipped to the customer within three to four weeks. The initial collection offers six distinct bag silhouettes that serve as starting points in the customization process. The collection ranges from small purses to large, laptop-sized, totes with prices between $150 and $350 dollars.

Their configuration toolkit is well done, no special features, but a good example for a user friendly layout. But compare it with the 121TIME.com website I wrote about in the previous post, and you will see while I regard 121TIME as the leader in BtoC customization (even if their site is really slow sometimes).

Update: Use the discount code „masscustom“ to get a 20% discount at check out when you design their bags (Disclaimer: I have no business relationship or affiliate marketing agreement with this company.)

24 04, 2006

Shoe Individualizer Selve Wins Retail Week’s Product Innovation of the Year Award 2006

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:16+00:00 April 24th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Footwear, General, Offline Customization|

But European Footwear Manufacturers Seem Not to Care

Sherwin Onlince Configurator for Home Paint„Mass Customization rules“, the blog Exciting eCommerce recently commented on this year’s nominations for the Webby Awards 2006, the leading international award honoring excellence in web design, usability and functionality, established in 1996. Three (of five) 2006 award nomination in the important retail category go to mass customization solutions: Sport brands O´Neill and Reebok for their online sneaker configurators and to Sherwin-Williams, a really well done configurator for home paints

[Update: this site finally won teh award in this category!].

Selve wins Retail Week Award 2006But also in the offline world, mass customization is a winning strategy. Selve, the Munich and London based provider of custom women’s footwear, just won the prestigious U.K. „Product Innovation of the Year“ Award by Retail Week. This is a further recognition of the excellence and pioneering work Claudia Kieserling and her U.K. partner Karen Macintyre are doing in this industry.

Selve has been the first company offering fully customized shoes for women in an affordable price range (180-250 Euro). Launched in Germany in 2001 and in the U.K. in 2004, Selve shoes are truly made-to-order in an Italian factory. Women can select colors, style options, heel heights, and more, and of course each shoe is perfectly fitted to the exact measurements of each foot. Recently, Selve also introduced a line of men’s shoes in its Munich store.

Selve Munich ShopIt is surprising to see that not more footwear manufacturers are moving on this model. While there are several good footwear brands offering custom men’s shoes, Selve is still the only company helping women to find the perfect fit. Market research conducted by the European Community, however, has shown that the market potential for women’s custom footwear would be much larger. And with companies like Corpus-e, there are today also very affordable scanning solutions available to support 3D measurement (Corpus’s scanners are much beyond the traditional 20,000 USD price tag of a conventional foot scanner). In addition, projects like the Euroshoe or CEC-made Shoe have provided all the necessary research and technology to produce custom footwear with mass production efficiency.

Still, the industry is not really reacting on the trend (contrarily to the sports good industry, where today EVERY large brand is offering mass customization). In the last year, more small Italian and Spanish footwear manufacturer went out of business than ever before. They can’t compete with Asian manufacturers on standard shoes. But what I do not understand is that almost none of them are becoming entrepreneurs and provide mass customization capacity.

Selve and the few other existing brands are desperately looking for more reliable manufacturing capacity, their customers are waiting for days (in the London store) just to get an appointment to purchase shoes (there is no talk about price competition)! The market is there, but manufacturing seems not to care about. Due to lack of industry support, also the EuroShoe Factory is not really winning pace.

Hopefully the Retail Week Award and other recognitions will slowly change the conservative mindset of the remaining European manufacturers – before they are all dead and replaced by Asian competitors (which, by the way, are very happy to manufacturer custom products).

Full disclosure: I am on the board of directors of Corpus-e, and conducted joint contract research with Selve before.

20 04, 2006

Prior 2 Lever: Footwear Customization With Rapid Manufacturing

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:21+00:00 April 20th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Design, Fabbing, Footwear, Sneaker, Technologies & Enablers|

Prior2leverVolker Junior has been one of the most active players in the German mass customization scene for the last years. His special field of expertise is rapid manufacturing, i.e. the use of rapid prototyping technologies (like laser sintering) for manufacturing purposes. As a former marketing director of EOS, one of the leading equipment manufacturers for rapid manufacturing, he was preparing the market for these technologies.

But now he not just wants to see how others use this technology, but to utilize this technology by himself. He has teamed up with the British company PRIOR 2 LEVEL (P2L) to offer the first fully customizable soccer shoe. The idea was presented already as a concept during our MCPC2005 conference in Hong Kong in October 2005. But last week, the product finally was launched officially at the London College of Fashion last week.

Sure, also Adidas has offered customized soccer shoes which go much beyond the aesthetic design customization of NIkeID and others. However, until now, all mass customization programs for footwear are based on a match-to-order system: Feet of a customer are scanned, and matched to an existing last. In most systems, a different size for the right and left foot is possible, and the library of lasts is much larger than the traditional spectrum, providing a much better fit.

P2L, however, wants to go one step further: The football boot is designed uniquely for each individual player using selective laser sintering to produce truly custom outsoles and hand-crafted one-piece leather uppers. As the U.K. Blog GIZMAG reports:

„The upper is made of exclusively sourced calfskin from Italy which can be manipulated using sophisticated technology to adapt color, appearance and function to the athlete’s needs. The outsole is designed using a three dimensional scan of the individual’s foot dimensions and unique walking/running style. The bespoke fit of the boot coupled with the hand crafted one-piece upper (negating uncomfortable seams and improving contact with the ball) make for an incredibly light design that preserves energy levels without forsaking protection and comfort. …

P2L’s system utilizes a biomechanically optimized outsole (the base of the boot) that supports, controls and conserves the player’s musculoskeletal system. Individually positioned studs based on the athlete’s foot structure minimize peak forces on the foot whilst walking, running and sprinting. P2L develops relationships with players on an individual basis to help reduce injuries, improve comfort and performance over their entire career.“

As this quote indicates, the P2L boot is targeting a different segment than Adidas. And despite its high-tech approach, the whole system is much closer to craft customization than true mass customization. However, it is a test of rapid manufacturing technologies for the use in footwear customization. Product development was undertaken in conjunction with the London College of Fashion, Loughborough University’s Rapid Manufacture Research Group and EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems. If this experiment is successful, the development of the underlying mass customization technologies will have made a large step forward.

More information also at Loughborough University’s Rapid Manufacture Research Group.

21 12, 2005

Re-Post: Left Foot Company: The largest mass customization company for men’s shoes (from the MC Newsletter 2/2004)

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:55+00:00 Dezember 21st, 2005|Cases-Consumer, Footwear|

Re-Post: I have republished these articles to make them better accessible for search on the blog. This article has been published first in the Newsletter No. 2/2004.

In June (2004), I spend a couple of days in Finland for the opening of the Finish Institute of Mass Customization & Personalization. During its inauguration ceremony, I had the chance to meet with the management team of Left Foot, the largest company providing mass customized men’s shoes (http://www.leftfootcompany.com). CEO Risto Pentikäinen convinced my to give the system a try, and so I stopped in Left’s Helsinki store on my way back to the airport to get a pair of customized shoes.

The store, next to the railway station in a small shopping center, comes with a special appeal that indicates immediately that this is not you regular shoe store. On one side, a number of sample shoes are lined up, otherwise, the store is rather empty, giving it the touch of a fashionable shoe boutique. However, the main wall in the store is covered with a huge CAD-model of a shoe and the bold words „custom made shoes. perfect fit“ so that shoppers know immediately what to expect. Behind a wall, the 3D foot scanner is installed.

Here, my buying experience started. My feet were 3D-scanned using a regular scanning device. During the process, the sales clerk explained me very nicely the screens and what my measurements doe mean.

Secondly, it was design time. I chose from one of the roughly 15 different basic designs, ranging from rather sportive models to more classic ones. All shoes come in a variety of leather qualities and colors, and you can also select the outsole (full leather, full rubber, mix etc.). After selecting my model and design, I got two matching pairs of basic sample shoes. The company seems to work with the typical match-to-order system. This means that shoes are not produced based on customized lasts, but that the measurements of a customer are matched to an existing last. The same approach is followed, e.g., by Adidas or Selve. The system provided the right sample shoes from the beginning, so there was no further need for additional try-ons.

After I provided my customer data and delivery address, I paid (the shoes are priced in-between 180 and 220 Euro), got a print of my shoes and my customer ID, and departed to the airport. The whole selling process lasted about 20 minutes.

During the sales process, customers do not interact with a computer system, but only with the sales clerk. In my opinion, especially given the tech-savvy target group of Left, the buying experience could be enhanced if customers would get the opportunity to build and see their shoes in exactly their specifications on the configuration systems. In the moment, the configurator is just used as a back-office tool for order taking and submission.

The left foot concept is owned by Pomarfin Oy, the leading shoe manufacturer in Finland. The company was established in 1960 and has currently two factories – one in Finland and one in Estonia. Pomarfin’s standard collection provides men, women and children with an extensive selection of comfortable high quality casual shoes, walking shoes, and boots.

In 1998, Pomarfin started to develop a unique mass customization solution to satisfy the increasing demand of men’s individual high quality business shoes. Three years later, in 2001, the brand name of „left“ and the „left foot company“ business model were introduced to the markets. Currently, stores can be found in Helsinki, Copenhagen, Birmingham and Moscow. A new shop in Osaka, Japan, was opened on July 9, 2004, and plans are made together with the local partner to open also in Tokyo as soon as suitable location becomes available.

Later in the year, several stores are to be opened in Germany. Expansion in the UK is on the agenda, and Italy is next on the list, as sales manager Niina Gamzu told me. North America is seen as an interesting option, and expanding there is only a matter of finding the right kind of partners, as Left prefers to operate on a franchising or licensing basis.

Already, today, some of the shops are run by an independent partner. As the product concepts are rather simple, this may work, and according to company information, Left has also enough capacity due to its ownership of the manufacturing. This helps to overcome the manufacturing problems other mass customizers in this industry face. CEO Risto Pentikäinen also wants to widen the product range and is now looking for suitable licensing partners to use the technology to manufacture for example ladies shoes and golf shoes.

And my shoes? After 10 days only, the custom-made shoes arrived in my office. The fit was perfect from the beginning, the color and model were as expected, and the quality of work is really good. But most important: While the left shoe is labeled „left“ with the company brand, the right shoe has my name and customer ID printed on the insole an important psychological detail to show what is special with this pair of shoes. Overall, my personal buying experience was very pleasurable, and I will consider to re-order.

Left Foot has integrated its online shop seamlessly in its selling system. After the customer’s feet have once been measured, he can re-order shoes very easily. According to a survey conducted by the company, a vast majority of the customer target group, i.e. 35-55 years old men with high education, good income, and fashion consciousness, prefer to do other things than shopping for shoes. So this approach may suit them perfectly by giving them more leisure time.

15 10, 2005

An overview of recent customization offerings in footwear and apparel (Updated)

By | 2018-05-07T15:35:07+00:00 Oktober 15th, 2005|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization, Sneaker, T-Shirts|

Footwear and apparel are the most common products being customized today. I get many e-mails asking about some major examples in these areas. Thus, here a short collection of some more recent examples. This is not a comprehensive list !! If you know an important example missing here, just e-mail me and I will be glad to include it in the list. Or just add a comment below (this list has been updated on Oct 27).

The following list was initiated by the web blog ‚World of Custom, An Overview of Current Custom Consumer Offerings‘, as compiled by Jason Davis/Merge Design.

(more detailed descriptions here)

Adidas Mi (http://www.adidas.com): Six shoes (running, soccer, tennis, indoor, basketball) with three areas of customization; fit (length and width of each foot), performance (outsole and midsole options and seasonal upper materials) and design (choosing from over 100 color combinations and embroidered lettering). All of which has to be done in person at select Adidas store locations.

Reebok Custom (http://www.converse.com/converseone/): Three shoes (Chuck Taylors high and low and Jack Purcells) with the One Star coming soon. Custom color and embroidered lettering online using the Nike iD engine.

Nike iD (http://www.nikeid.com/): Fifty-one shoes (thirty-one for men, seventeen for women and three for kids) six bags, five watches and three golf balls. Custom color and lettering on Nike’s third generation site.

Puma Mongolian BBQ (http://www.puma.com/mongolianbbq/): Single style served up at hands on kiosks open for limited times at select Puma locations. Very tactile with a DIY flavor. There is also an on-line version replicating the in-store experiment.

Vans (http://shop.vans.com): Two shoes. Custom color and patterns online with a solid and well thought out interface for color selection.

Timberland (http://www.timberland.com/customboots/): new website, now with state of the art configurator, many color options for men and women (more extensive review here).

JG Customs (http://booktown.com/jgcustoms/): hand painted, real actual personalization, small batch sizes, DIY approach.

O’Neill: (http://www.oneill-action.com/designyoursneaker.php) open innovation experiment, co-creation of new styles and design competition, but no custom manufacturing

FootJoy Golf Shoes (http://www.myjoys.com/): Popular golf shoe. Custom color and individual length and widths for both right and left shoes.


Selve (http://www.selve.net): Munich based custom footwear company for women’s shoes. Latest design and custom fit (based on foot scan). Stores in Munich and London. Manufacturing in Italy.

Steve Madden (http://www.SteveMadden.com):Newly-launched “Design Your Own” collection on SteveMadden.com offers options resulting in a total of 4,221 combinations. Consumers can make their choices among product features such as heel height, pattern, material, finishing and color. Special as formal women’s dress shoes — no sneakers!

Leftfoot (http://www.leftfootcompany.com): Leading European provider of custom footwear for men. Stores all over Europe, production in Finland. Custom fit and design.

Otabo (http://www.otabo.com): Upcoming US brand and manufacturer for mass customized men’s shoes. Growing number of stores, manufactured in the US (Florida).


Adidas Team (http://www.adidas.com): new Japanese offering, create your own team outfit, nice and easy configurator

Land’s End (http://landsend.com): Nine apparel pieces (Jeans, Chinos, Shits and a Jacket for men and women). Color and custom sizing all offered up on the Archetype engine.

Target, JC Penny, Tommy Hilfiger: Similar offerings to Lands’ End (mostly jeans and pants with a shirt or two). All use same Archetype engine.

MeJeans (http://mejeans.com): A new custom jeans maker in the US, offers more than 89 trillion possibilities for truly custom jeans, self measurement, rather complex configurator, for people loving and knowing jeans very well. Very good pricing (about 100 USD per pair).

[more background information]

UJeans (http://UJeans.com): Founded in Oct 2005, this Canadian jeans manufacturers offers custom jeans as well, self measurement, again only for people knowing jeans very well. Good pricing (less than 100 USD per pair) and a great „workbook“ to educate the customers about eans customization (the configurator is still very basic, though).

Polo Ralph Lauren (http://www.polo.com): Fourteen apparel pieces (four shirts and one tie for men, four shirts and one bikini for women and four shirts for kids). Basic color and monogram choice via straightforward web page.

Nunatak Kobuk Mountain Jacket (www.nunatakusa.com):
Custom hiking jacket; rather simple design, style choices come down to pockets on the front or inside and a hood. choice of nylon; custom arm and chest measurements for perfect fit (review here). Alternative offerings from Beyond, ME: www.beyondfleece.com

NeighborHoodies (http://neighborhoodies.com/): Growing chain of personalization stores. Plethora of base products (sweatshirts, t-shirts, pants, shorts, hats, underwear, baby clothes, etc.). All customized with lettering and iron-ons.

Spread Shirt (http://www.spreadshirt.com/): Much more than customized t-shirts, but opportunity for every user to open custom t-shirt shop and sell their own creations to others. Great business model, and one of the largest recent success stories.

CustomInk (http://www.customink.com/): Special to this site is its community orientation: Most customers do not customize for themselves, but for an entire group. Kind of peer-segmentation.

Route One (http://www.routeone-design.com/): Custom corporate clothing.

Pixeltees (http://www.pixeltees.com): Easy and simple t-shirt customization site. Many similar sites like this on the web.

Lids baseball caps (http://www.lidscyo.com)


Time121 (http://www.factory121.com): Swiss made custom watches, high quality, many customization options, VERY nice configurator.

Fossil (http://www.fossil.com): Very simple customization offering, but reinforcing the trend.

Blancier (http://www.blancier.com): Anotehr custom watch manufacturer, but much less choice and options compared to Factory121.

Ultimate Ears Earbuds (www.ultimateears.com): Pricey earbuds with superior sound quality and custom buds based on silicone casts of customers‘ auditory canals and outer ears taken by an audiologist.

Timbuk2 (http://www.timbuk2.com): One bag (classic messenger in four sizes). Custom color, options and accessories through well built online site. One of the first mass customizers in existence. Powers also NikeID custom bags.

Freitag (http://www.freitag.ch/f-cut/): One bag. Based on custom, utilizing used truck tarps for base material with online interface that lets you select the actual pieces made to build your bag.

L.L.Bean (http://www.llbean.com): Three bags (boat tote, classic backpack and messenger bag). Custom color and feature selection (extra pockets, strap lengths, etc.).