IN PURSUIT OF PERSONALISATION
As Ukraine-based designer Anastasiya Rozava of Chereshnivska explains further, “Made-to-order garments are created based on individual customer requests. When a customer places an order, the production process begins, and the garment is made specifically for that customer. The construction process involves pattern making and tailoring the garment to the customer's preferences.”
Image Courtesy of Chereshnivska
Although not methods of design within the mainstream, these are still practices used inside the studios of many established and emerging designers. However, neither are new facets within fashion. Centuries ago, clients that could afford to do so would work closely with a designer on the same basis, local tailors would serve communities, and households knew how to create their own garments from patterns and off-cuts from factory floors. A high-end bespoke client might even have several of the same piece made in different fabric and colour variations by their personal designer. Fast forward to the present today, fast fashion, which began during the 1990s, has accelerated a consumer behaviour at breakneck speed in which items of clothing are purchased, and disposed of, in vast quantities.
According to a study released in March this year by the British Fashion Council’s Institute of Positive Fashion, DHL, and Roland Berger, an estimated 23 million items of returned fashion were sent to landfill or incinerated in the UK in 2022. This alone generated 750,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere. The key takeaway, whilst still acknowledging it is not the singular solution to the fashion sustainability issue, is that less production equals less waste. If either side of the supply chain can collectively implement or adapt made-to-order into their business model, it has a real chance to make fashion less polluting. For reference, after food and construction, fashion sits third in the world’s most polluting industry.
IMAGE COURTESY OF LUIS MERCADER
Virgina Valente, of Portugal based brand Mercader, says, “Made-to-measure aligns with the principles of sustainability and responsible consumption. By producing garments based on customer demand, MTM minimises waste and reduces the need for excess inventory. This approach promotes a more sustainable and eco-friendly fashion industry.”
During this era of excess, it has also diluted the message that clothing is something to be kept and treasured. A made-to-order garment solidifies why both points should always be at the core of our clothing choices. By slowing down the production process and emphasising the craftsmanship; this in turn adds tremendous value to what’s in our wardrobe. Something that couldn’t be done with an item on next day delivery. Siddhant Agrawal, the Creative Director of Siddhant Agrawal whos based in India, notes, “Make-to-order fashion offers exclusivity as each garment is made on demand. Customers receive a unique piece that is tailored specifically for them, ensuring that they won't find the same item on others. This exclusivity adds a sense of luxury and individuality to our garments.”
Image Courtesy of Siddhant Agrawal
Additionally, ready-to-wear, or off-the-rack clothing, typically comes under a certain sizing standard. This begins with a ‘fit model’ who is essentially the person the brand sees as their target customer and will usually be a UK size 6, or in other words, sample size. After this a process called ‘grading’ commences which involves changing the points of measurement from the fit model, such as the bust or waist, to turn a sample size into additional sizing options. However, due to each fit model having different measurements, this sizing method doesn’t always work. A common problem caused by this is the fluctuation across brands sizing and makes the navigation of a customer’s journey increasingly difficult.
Aleshia Zyla, the Creative Director behind Albania based brand Maet Maet, says: “One of the most praised aspects of our made-to-order service is the perfect fit achieved through custom measurements. Clients frequently express their delight in receiving garments that fit them flawlessly, eliminating the need for alterations and ensuring maximum comfort and confidence.”
Image Courtesy of Maet
With all the above in mind, it brings forward the question of what luxury is and can be in today’s world. Both made-to-order and made-to-made, by definition, are design practices that are intrinsically linked to what is considered the most luxurious corners of fashion - couture. Something that is traditionally associated with the megabrands that show their couture collections at the biannual fashion week in Paris often at a lofty price point. However, having an item that is one of one, made exclusively to your measurements, and allows you to be part of the journey from first sketch to final stich, no matter the designer, makes a considerable argument for what luxury is today. Something which cannot be confined by label or logo.
Image Courtesy of Oraz
Anna Yinan Zhou, the Creative Director of New York based brand Oraz, adds, “Made-to-measure has always been associated with luxury, sustainability, and enhanced comfort in the fashion industry. In today's world, where customers are increasingly disillusioned with the problems caused by fast fashion and are prioritising sustainability, made-to-order is poised to become the future of the fashion industry.”