‘Customisation’ in broader terms could be defined as tailor-made; the broad objectives remain the same, i.e. personalisation, which is a growing trend among several brands. No wonder that concepts like Mass Customisation (MC), Made-to-Measure (MTM) and Bespoke Manufacturing (BM) are becoming increasingly popular in garment manufacturing in recent times to ensure personalisation of garment pieces. However, there are finer differences between them. Unfortunately, knowingly or unknowingly, people often use wrong terminology on several occasions.
Not only that, commercial business models need not necessarily follow any single definition in entity. There may be always mix in approaches thereby a single business model may have characteristics of multiple concepts. However, we must remember the individual advantages and disadvantages to accrue benefit in fullest.
Mass Customisation and Made-to-Measure are same
Probably, this is the most intriguing and controversial truth. Mass customisation could be defined as a massive personalisation or personalisation for everybody. Mass customisation is the method of “effectively postponing the task of differentiating a product for a specific customer until the latest possible point in the supply network.” (Chase, Jacobs & Aquilano, 2006, p. 419). It can also be defined as “producing goods and services to meet individual customer’s needs with near mass production efficiency” (Tseng & Jiao, 2001, p. 685). Made-to-Measure on the other hand means, made in accordance with a specific individual’s measurements or designed and made to individual specifications. While Mass Customisation (MC) is happening as a whole according to individual taste, i.e. customers are allowed to choose the material specification (colour/texture etc.), style specification, among others. While in Made-to-Measure (MTM), focus is on customisation of measurement/size/specifications only. The difference between Mass Customisation and Made-to-Measure lies in measurement and/or size specifications, i.e. in pattern making. In Mass Customization, measurements are matched with a pre-determined set of patterns while in Made to Measure, separate pattern are developed based on individual measurement. After patterns are made, the cutting, sewing and finishing of garments may be similar for Mass Customisation and MTM.
Made-to-Measure and Bespoke Manufacturing is same
The word bespoke itself is derived from the verb to bespeak, in the specialized meaning “to give order for it to be made”. The term bespoke in fashion is reserved for individually patterned and crafted men’s clothing, analogous to women’s haute couture in contrast with mass manufactured ready-to-wear. While widespread in the United Kingdom, the term is almost unknown in the United States, although it may be used by some in the high-end tailoring business. Both MTM and Bespoke Manufacturing (BM) can be called fashioned to fit a particular need or purpose. While Mass Customization and Made to Measure differentiate in pattern development process, Bespoke Manufacturing differentiates itself by how the garment is being cut and assembled. In Bespoke Manufacturing, single piece garment is being cut and then sewn using ‘make through system’ of manufacturing and (also known as ‘tailoring system’ where one person sews the complete garment). The basic difference between MTM and Bespoke Manufacturing lies in method of sewing; while in Bespoke Manufacturing sewing is done by make through system of manufacturing, in MTM sewing is done by modular manufacturing system.
Bespoke tailoring requires fitting while Mass Customization doesn’t
Bespoke is synonymous to Savile Row suit, as defined “a suit made on or around Savile Row bespoken to the customer’s specifications. A Bespoke suit is cut by an individual and made by highly skilled individual craftsmen. The pattern is made specifically for the customer and the finished suit will take a minimum of 50 hours of hand work and require a series of fittings”. Currently many luxury shirt making brands follow bespoke manufacturing route, where customers are required to give fit trials.
The use of 3D body scanner is mandatory for Mass Customization or Made to Measure
3D scanner is a non-contact body measurement device, a sophisticated tool for taking measurement of an individual fast, accurate and non-evasive way. For Mass Customization or Made to Measure or even for Bespoke we can take measurement of an individual physically by tape measurement also. Use of 3D body scanning device in Mass Customization is popular in West where customers are measured through body scanners free of cost and measurement details are provided in a smart card. A customer can walk in to any store (who does not have 3D scanner but offering mass customized garment) and after choosing material and style specification; the measurements are provided through smart card. Basically the source of body measurement data can be any of the three; 3D scanner, tape measure, and pre-determined measurements to be selected from list.
Teamwork sewing is common in Mass Customization
Although not mandatory, generally world over mass customized merchandise are assembled in factories working in teamwork. One of the prime requirements of any mass customization is quick throughput time; teamwork is one of the sewing methods that offer quick throughput time with consistent quality. Although make through system of sewing also offers equally quick throughput time, it is not considered as preferred method of industrial manufacturing due to inconsistent quality. Therefore, teamwork is considered as the best sewing method for mass customized garment. Traditionally, Bespoke Manufacturing used make through system of sewing (i.e. one person sews the complete garment), however nowadays due to several advantages of teamwork or modular sewing, all three concepts, i.e. MC, MTM and Bespoke use teamwork.
All commercial Mass Customization and/or MTM ventures are web based B2C model
One of the positive characteristic of Mass Customization is pick and choose option of material, accessories, colour, and fashion detail in merchandise. The pick and choose is a time consuming process by customer and should be non-intervening. Therefore, web based, business to customer (B2C) model is the most frequently used or preferable model for front end interaction with customer. However, there are many commercial MTM service works in brick and morter store where pick and choose option is done face-to-face manually.
Customization can use technology
Be it MC, MTM or Bespoke, the modern technology can be used effectively. Right from pattern making (through CAD), fitting (may be through E-fit software), cutting (single ply cutter), sewing (stand up sewing in U-shaped layout and overhead material handling system) modern technology can be used for consistent quality, faster throughput and lower cost.