Getwear: New custom jeans website combines many „best practice“ elements of online co-design toolkits

Getwear toolkitCustom jeans have been one of the pioneering offering in mass customization, and I have reported about them several times. Indeed, it has been the Custom Jeans offering of Levi Strauss that got me interested in mass customization at the first place (Seeing it in 1994 in NYC), and so I was quite sad when Levi closed its MC business.

But the market seems to get more mature now, and while there already are quite some companies on the web, there always is room for someone new, especially if they get it better than the rest.

This seems to be the case with GETWEAR.com, a custom jeans site targeting the US market (but they ship to Europe and Asia, too). They just launched last week. While I still cannot judge the product quality, the website seems to be very carefully designed and somehow a "best of breed" of best practices for a good co-design toolkit. And their price point (starting at about $99) is truly MASS customization.

CEO of Getwear is Tatyana Kanzaveli, a well connected woman in the Silicon Valley, but the strategist and concept developer behind the site is Yaakov Karda, who came up with the idea after his studies in Fashion Management in Italy.

I asked him what how is Getwear different to the existing custom jeans companies out there.

YakovYaakov: The main difference is that other projects are (and, as far as I know) about "custom fit" and Getwear is about "custom design". Besides that, none of them is social. It was you (customer) and the company. Basically, it is an analogue of web based "atelier". There's not much fun in buying atelier made clothing for young people; the concept looks and sounds outdated.

Getwear is all about social commerce. From my point of view, mass customization has perfect potential if coupled with community but will not succeed on the large scale if it is not. All other "custom jeans" businesses mostly target people with special requirements (and though an established need for a custom product). It's a very limited market (and with harsh competition).

Unlike them, Getwear targets regular people and most of our clients never (probably) thought of having their jeans custom made. We aim to establish a brand that will compete not with other existing custom jeans projects, but with "big" denim brands such as Diesel, G-Star e.t.c.

Well, this is a bold statement, but there website really is state-of-the art (definitely a best practice candidate for our Customization500 list). The site is very well planned, and really combines many elements both with regard to co-design of an individual item and with regard to sharing and community features.

The co-design tool was developed in collaboration with Artem Gorbunov's Design Bureau, a highly regarded Moscow based studio that specializes in web & interface design. According to Yaakov, they already had two iterations but they are not yet done, so it's a work in progress.

Here are some elements that I liked especially from their site:

  • Great inspiration and catalog to give you orientation and ideas.
  • Senseful visualization balancing between usability and realistic views.
  • Different models and sizes already in the co-design toolkit, not just in the measurement part.
  • Great details. Look at the selection of buttons: Options are shown before selected color, nit just generically.
  • Lot's of social media connections right out of the configurator
  • Option to offer your design to others, earning a $10 bonus every time it is ordered. One of the few sites that put this kind of P2P interaction into practice .

But a great custom product is only as good as the firm's ability to turn the virtual design into a real product. So I asked Yaakov to share a bit more about their production system. Production is in India in a dedicated factory, rum by Nikhil Bafna, who was Yaakov's classmate in Italy and is the VP of Production. They promise delivery times of not more than two weeks (in the US) for a truly custom made jeans, which really sets a strong benchmark!

Yaakov: First of all, we employ unique parametric pattern making system that produces ready for cutting patterns in a matter of seconds. That saves a lot of time. Besides that we have a specially dedicated production unit that doesn't do any other work. Jeans are delivered with UPS and it only adds around 3 days for delivery (within these 14). 

We aim to further reduce delivery timing to one week (or less for basic items) in future. I believe that fast fulfillment is one of the key success factors for any mass customization business.

I totally agree on the last sentence. Looking forward to observe the future developments of this company!

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.