INTELLIFIT Moves From Virtual Fitting (match-to-order) to True Mass Customization: Custom-made jeans with a high-tech twist

Intellifit's scanner and a rendering of the custom clothing platformIntellifit is know to me as one of the leading providers of match-to-order systems in fashion retail. They currently market a special 3D full body scanner. At a retail location, the consumer enters a see-through „Intellifit Virtual Fitting Room“ (the scnanner) that’s 8′ high and 7′ wide. There, low power radio waves collect about 200 accurate body measurements in under 15 seconds – a personal “FitPrint” – while the consumer remains fully clothed. This data is used to match the user’s measurements with sizing information of (standard) garments in the store.

According to the company, Intellifit has measured over 230,000 individuals to date, representing the largest sizing database of its kind in the world.

But now Intellifit customers will become enabled to use their profiles to shop for custom made jeans, and in the future, for custom pants, khakis, or shirts. Last week, the company began a test of its “Custom Jeans Center” at its company retail store outside of Philadelphia. Consumers can design their own custom-made jeans with a guarantee of a perfect fit. In the moment, retail shopping is by appointment only and includes consultation with a fashion advisor.

The customer can choose jeans from a selection of styles and washes and add details such as pocket shape and design, stitching and personalization options. The price point of the custom jeans is at about $150.

The FitPrint is transferred electronically from the retail location to the jeans manufacturer, where the garment pieces are custom-cut by computer control. The completed custom jeans are shipped directly to the customer in 3 to 4 weeks.

“This test will help us determine the scalability of the process. With a positive result, an international roll-out will be close behind,” Rob Weber, Intellifit’s President, is quoted in a recent press release.

I believe that this combination of mass customization and match-to-order is a very promising way of establishing a sustainable operation. Many consumers do not want to wait for a perfect fit that is just made for them, but also are frustrated by complexity of choice and not finding their right size in a large retail store. Also, if the system finds that a standard item on stock is providing you a good fit, the retailer will have an advantage as the inventory can be reduced. On the other hand, if a consumer does not find a standard garment according to her fit and preferences, she does not have to leave the store without a puchase — but can be transferred to the mass customization option.

For Intellifit, entering the mass customization market also is a great way to leverage the exiting investments in building such a large database of „FitPrint“ customer profiles.

– For more information and store locations, go to
MVM’s virtual model and Archetype’s ZAFU are similar matching-services in the online world.
– Report about METRO’s matching and in-store recommendation service

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.