2Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orgDr. Joseph C. Chen, PE is an associate professor inthe Department of Industrial Education and Tech-nology at Iowa State University. Recently, he re-ceived Early Achievement in Teaching Award fromthe Iowa State University. His research interestsare in cellular manufacturing systems, machinetool dynamics, and intelligent control as it relatesto neural networks and fuzzy control.Ms. Seung-Eun Lee is currently seeking her Ph.D.degree in the department of Textiles and Clothingat Iowa State University. She received an MS fromthe same program, and wrote a thesis entitled “Fi-nancial productivity of assortment diversity in re-lation to merchandising performance measuresand markups” to complete that degree. Her re-search interests include mass customization imple-mentations for the apparel industry, apparel mer-chandising technology, global sourcing, and sup-ply chain management.sumer market. Most of today’s consum-ers require high-quality customizedproducts at low prices with fasterdelivery (Cameron, 1998). With this sortof consumer interest in mind, theconcept of mass customization emergedin the late 1980’s.Concept of Mass CustomizationMass customization is a hybrid ofmass production and customization. Inhis book, Mass Customization, Pine(1993) defines mass customization as“the mass production of individuallycustomized goods and services” (p.48). Given the changing characteristicsof today’s consumer interests andindustrial competition, mass productionsystems cannot satisfy both manufac-turers and consumers; however, a masscustomization system may achieve bothmanufacturer and consumer satisfac-tion, providing a low-cost customizedproduct. Pine stated that the prerequi-site of implementing masscustomization is the application ofadvanced technology, such as theflexible manufacturing system, com-puter-integrated manufacturing,computer-aided design, and advancedcomputer technology. Pine explainedthat using these technologies in thepractice of mass customization willshorten product-life and developmentcycles as well as allowing manufactur-ers to respond more quickly andflexibly to changing consumptivedrives. Finally, consumers will haveaccess to a variety of relatively low-cost, high-quality, customized productswhile manufacturers can reduce excessinventory and markdowns.Fig. 1 (page 3) shows the conceptof mass customization as defined byPine. This mass customization systemadopts the concept of serving a largemarket with low cost products createdthrough mass production, and theapplication of new technology facili-tates manufacturer responses toconsumer drives for custom garments.Pine explained that, while the marketof mass production is “large homoge-neous market”, the market of masscustomization is “fragmented andheterogeneous.”An Example of Technology Appliedto Mass Customization in the Ap-parel IndustryIn the apparel industry, several newtechnologies have helped masscustomization operations. First of all,precise measurements of individualconsumers are required to customizeapparel products. Usually, in the store,a trained sales person processes thebody measurements. A consumer canbe measured by hand, by laser bodyscanner, or by video camera. Then,body measurement software modifies astored pattern prototype by usingspecific individual measurements. Forexample, a trained sales person takesthe customer’s measurements at certainbody points, and these measurementsthen are entered into the system, whichconsequently adjusts the size ofmatching points on the pattern proto-type. Alternatively, a computer maygenerate a digital image using a videoimage of the consumer wearing a bodystocking, and then use pattern genera-tion software to convert measurementsfrom the image to a specific pattern(Chase, 1997). The most highly-developed measurement device mea-sures the entire body three-dimension-Mass-customizationMethodology for anApparel Industry with aFutureBy Ms. Seung-Eun Lee & Dr. Joseph C. ChenIntroductionIn today’s apparel market, consum-ers desire to personalize the style, fit andcolor of the clothes they buy (ApparelIndustry: Consumer customization,1998; SRI Consulting, 1997). Accordingto Kurt Salmon Associates’ 1997 AnnualConsumer Outlook Survey, 36% ofconsumers are willing to pay up to 15%more for customized apparel andfootwear, and will wait up to threeweeks to receive their customizedproduct (Apparel Industry: Consumercustomization, 1998). This report,however, does not negate the values oflow cost and fast delivery in the con-
3Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orgally using a laser. The consumer isscanned while wearing his/her streetclothes. About a minute later, aprintout of the image is made. Then,the measurement information is storedin a central database or on a smart card.The consumer uses this smart card toselect the garment of choice and thepattern is adjusted automatically to fitthe measurements made in the store(Bobbin, 1997).Overview of the American ApparelIndustryLabor-intensive apparel industriesrequire workers for every process.Traditionally, apparel manufacturershave used the bundle system, a methodof passing the pieces of the partiallyfinished garments from one set oflaborers to the next, restricted by rigidhierarchical divisions. However, rapiddynamics of consumer desires in thefashion market coupled with the globalcompetitiveness of low-wage-ratecountries has diminished the effective-ness of this system. By focusing onproducing the maximum number ofunits in a given period of time, thebundle system has caused problemsthat include excess inventory, a longlead time, and low quality (Black &Chen, 1995).Thus, apparel manufacturers havebegun to try JIT (Just-In-Time) or QR(Quick Response) concepts to elimi-nate excess inventory, long lead time,and low quality in traditional manufac-turing systems (Black & Chen, 1995).Additionally, apparel industries haveinvested in computer systems to controldesign, cutting, embroidery, andsewing information (Taylor, 1992;Kalman, 1997). With these earlieradvancements in manufacturingtechnology, apparel industries foundnew niche markets for the made-to-measure garment (Harris et al., 1992).Now, rather than just niche markets,customization may become a broadtrend for apparel industry productionand retail (Burns & Bryant, 1997).Purpose of this StudyThe purpose of this study is tostudy how apparel industries practicemass customization and what dynamicsof the industry are changed by theimpact of mass customization. Finally,this study will present a model explain-ing the effect of mass customization onthe apparel industry. For this purpose, aliterature review is applied to realexamples where mass customization isin practice in the apparel industry.Effects of Mass CustomizationPractices on the ApparelIndustryMass Customization PracticesSeveral researchers have men-tioned about the nuances of masscustomization practices in the apparelindustry. Burns and Bryant (1997)explained that mass customization inthis industry is processed by computertechnology. These processes employfour basic steps. First, a trained salesrepresentative measures the customerwith the assistance of a computer.Second, the salesperson enters themeasurement data into a computer andalters the garment specificationsaccording to the customer’s preferencesencoded in this data. Third, the ad-justed measurement is sent to a fabric-cutting machine in a factory to createthe customized garment piece. Fourth,finished pieces of the customizedgarments are labeled with a bar code,assembled, and then retailed. Processessuch as these use computer technologyto connect the consumer with the retailstore as well as the apparel factory.Lee (1994) described body scan-ning and digitized image uses in masscustomization practices, stating that thecustomer is measured three-dimension-ally, and through the digitized image ona kiosk or video screen, the customercan see whether the style (which theyselect) fits their preferences.Anderson et al. (1997) created amodel of mass customization for theapparel industry. Based on consumerresearch, they indicated that digitalFigure 1. Mass Customization Concept
4Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orginformation and new technology in theprocess of manufacturing will developcustomized apparel with four options:“expanded selection/search;” “designoption;” “co-design;” and “totalcustom.” In the “expanded search,”intelligent search capabilities enable acustomer to access various manufactur-ers’ product lines. In the “designoption,” the next level above the“expanded search,” the customerselects from manufacturer/retailer’sdesigns, sizing, style options, styledetails, color, and fabric to create thedesigned garment, through computeraided design (CAD) and digitalprinting. “Co-design” offers additionalpersonal fit through the ad designmanager, based on the “design optionchoices.” Finally, in “total custom,” thecustomer communicates his or her owndesigns to manufacturers or retailers ina digital format.The effects of mass customizationin the apparel industry are presented inFigure 2.Examples of Actual Application ofMass Customization in the ApparelIndustryThere are three major examples ofthe application of mass customizationtechniques in apparel industries.(1) Custom Foot Inc., Florence, ItalyThe Custom Foot offers a newconcept in fitting customers with shoes(Justin, 1997). The selection of shoescollected on the shopping floor ofCustom Foot is available for selectionof style only. After a customer choosesa style, precise measurements of theconsumer’s feet are taken using acomputer scanner in the store, whichtakes about 30 seconds to registerdifferent sizes and widths, distinguish-ing the right foot from the left. Con-sumers then choose their shoe stylefrom swatches of different materialspresenting various colors and textures(including heel options). About 160display “models” provide style guide-lines. Customers’ measurements andchoices of style, color, and materialcompose an order that softwaretranslates into Italian and sends toCustom Foot’s Florence office bymodem. The orders are distributedamong six factories in Italy, and one inAmerica. Production and deliverytakes about three to four weeks,providing customized footwear for acost of about $180 per pair (see Figure3 on page 5).(2) Levi Strauss in Mountain City,TN, U.S.A (Abend, 1996; Oleson,1998)In 56 original Levi’s stores acrossthe United States and Canada, LeviStrauss & Co. is using masscustomization with its Personal Pairwomen’s custom fitted jeans program,and will begin providing men’s customjeans in the near future, as well. Fig. 4shows the process of making custom-ized jeans.In the store, a trained sales persontakes four initial measurements of thewaist, hip, inseam, and rise. Thesemeasurements are entered into thecomputer system, which suggests aprototype-test garment. The consumertries the prototype on and fit modifica-tions are made in any of four areas ofthe garment, based on the consumer’spreferences (such as a tighter fit, looserfit, shorter, and longer). Two or threeprototypes are usually required to findthe perfect fit for the customer. Havingspecified these processes, the order issent via modem to Levi Strauss inMountain City, TN. The cost of thisprocess comes out to about $65 a pair(around $15 more than buying directlyoff-the self), with about three weeksneeded for production and delivery (seeFigure 4 on page 5).(3) Second Skin Swimwear, JunoBeach, FL, U.S.A. (Rabon, 1996)In the Second Skin Swimwearstore, a customer begins every step inbuying customized swimwear withtrained salesperson. First, by trying onsample suits (20 one-piece suit styles,Figure 2. The effects of mass customization in the apparel industry
5Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.organd a combination of about 20 top andbottom styles), the customer finds thepreferred style. After that, a digitalcamera scans the customer for abouttwo minutes, and then the customerchooses the preferred fabric. This whole“Digifit” process takes about one hour.All information related to this process isrecorded by a trained salesperson andentered into the store computer systemto eventually be sent by modem toSecond Skin’s headquarters in JunoBeach, FL. This recorded information isalso stored in a disk and downloaded atthe factory. The delivery time requiredfor completed customized swimwear isless than two weeks, at a price ofbetween $90 and $200 per suit, depend-ing on the customer’s add-on prefer-ences (see Figure 5 on page 6).Steps toward Mass CustomizationMass customization is new to theapparel industry, and in its processes,following problems need to be resolvedfor the full implementation of masscustomization toward consumers(Scheller & Rabon, 1997):(1) Body scanning: Body scanningbrings the output of the XYZcoordinates of a physical body, soit must be modified to make its usemore practical in aspects of theapplication of apparel design andpattern.(2) Single-ply cutting: In masscustomization, manufacturers cutone garment exactly according toconsumer preferences. Theproblem is that this single-plycutting is more expensive thangeneral cutting systems, and itmust be improved in order toaccommodate automatic continu-ous cutting for masscustomization.(3) CAD system: Despite theAAMA’s (American ApparelManufacturers Association) newCAD standards, compatibilityproblems between hardware andsoftware systems from vendor tovendor mar the spread of masscustomization through the industry.(4) Pattern design: Becausecommodity patterns must bemodified for individual customers,Figure 3. Example of Custom FitFigure 4. Example of Levi-Strauss & Co. (In store activity)
6Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orgthe means by which the pattern isaltered is an issue of concern.To utilize mass customization,manufacturing processes must beflexible, and to be flexible, every stepin the manufacturing process must havethe ability to react quickly to changesin product design and to changes inconsumer interests and needs. After themanufacturer communicates withindividual customers and receives theorder/fit specifications, individualproducts are cut and assembled, andthe garment is shipped to the customerwithin about three weeks. In theseprocesses, individual products mayhave totally different specifications, sothe information received for productionmust be interpreted correctly by eachoperator in each of the manufacturingprocesses.Also, the systems and organiza-tions of manufacturing processesshould be changed so they are able torespond to an individual order. Forexample, in the manufacturing processof Second Skin Swimwear, there is nowork in process. The swimsuitsordered are manufactured individuallyby the company’s sewing specialist(Rabon, 1996).A major concern lies in how theapparel industry can effectively use itsexisting manufacturing facilities andorganizational structures to adopt masscustomization. Flexible manufacturingsystems are required in masscustomization environments; at thesame time, these advanced manufactur-ing systems have been in demand toachieve a better mass productionenvironment. For this reason, there hasbeen some debate regarding whetherthese manufacturing systems should bemaintained, or whether they should bechanged to allow for mass customizedproducts. Pine, et al. (1997) studiedthese questions in the case of theautomobile industry. They stated that anew organizational structure is neededin industry, and that structure should be“a dynamic network of relativelyautonomous operating.” They alsomentioned that, with advanced manu-facturing technology, masscustomization requires a differentorganizational structure, rather than thenormative bureaucratic structure, formass production. For more highly-customized products, the industry mustconsider that manufacturing modulesmust be flexible and diverse; therefore,the various capabilities of employeescontributing to this system must berecognized and utilized to the fullestextent possible.In present mass customizationpractices, the apparel industry limitsthe customized extent of the productmarket to reduce costs. With masscustomization, the styles that customerschoose are, to a limited extent, alreadywithin a broad style frameworkprescribed by the manufacturer. Forexample, at the Custom Foot, there area limited number of style variations andsize ranges. Regardless, there are morechoices than what off-the-shelf retailersoffer (Justin, 1997). Additionally,Burns and Bryant (1997) stated that, inapparel companies pursuing masscustomization, the pattern is based on a“standard body” of the target customer.The “standard” size is adjusted to fitindividual consumer specifications.Conclusions and SuggestionsMass customization is not a fictionof the distant future. In fact, masscustomization exists in industriesbesides just the apparel industry, suchas the automobile industry and theinformation technology industry.Although the industries that practicemass customization are not entirelysuccessful in maintaining a lowinventory and satisfying all theirconsumers, new advancements inmanufacturing technology will allowFigure 5. Example of Second Skin Swimwear
7Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orgmass customization to be more idealfor both manufacturers and consumers.In mass customization practices,the apparel industry shows similarprocesses of in-store activity in thefollowing way. When customers enterthe store, with the help of trainedsalespeople, their sizes are taken bybody scanning or by hand, and thestyles and fabrics they prefer areselected by sample swatches anddisplays. After that, information aboutcustomers is entered and stored in thecomputer system by trained salespeople. With the computer system,every byte of information about theconsumers is worked into the stylepattern after being sent by modem. Incase studies, it is evident that trainedsalespeople play an important role inapparel industrial mass customizationpractices. In every process, trainedsalespeople help the customer tochoose what styles s/he desires asspecifically as possible. Anothersimilar point of mass customization inthe apparel industry is that size andstyle selections are limited to reducethe overhead costs.In Figure 6, in-store activities areextended based on case studies and aliterature review. Every step of the masscustomization process will be continueddepending on the consumer’s satisfac-tion. Specific styles and sizes are limitedunder mass customization processes.Based on the variety in possible choices,customer satisfaction becomes asubjective affair. Also, depending onhow well the computer system adjustsstyle and size information to specificpatterns, this process may need designersupport. Ultimate success will be basedon how satisfied consumers are duringthe early, pre-manufacturing steps of theprocess. So long as the consumer issatisfied to the point of commitment, theinformation and pattern will be sent tothe manufacturer.Only a few studies address howmanufacturing processes in the factoryactually produce the product that thecustomer orders. According to Pine’sstudy (1997) of automobile industries,mass customization practices in thefuture in the apparel industry willrequire both automated, advancedFigure 6. The Proposed Structure of In-store Servicemanufacturing systems and flexible,dynamic organizational structures. Oneof the case studies (Second SkinSwimwear) may suggest that, for masscustomization, the apparel industrymight need special assembly designrather than work-in-process. Byextending the results of the literaturereview, Fig. 7 suggests the effect of themass customization process on theapparel factory. The authors believethat this approach will ensure thecustomization process could besystemically implemented in theapparel industries. Further study in thisarea will be also shared in the future.
8Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 16, Number 1 • November 1999 to January 2000 • www.nait.orgReferencesAbend, J. (1996, October). Custom-made for the masses: Is it time yet?Bobbin, 48-52.Anderson, L. J., & Brannon, E. L.,Ulrich, P. V., Marshall, T., &Staples, N. J. (1997, August).Discovering the process of masscustomization: A paradigm shift forcompetitive manufacturing. Na-tional Textile Center ResearchBriefs.Apparel industry: Consumercustomization. (1998). RetrievedJuly 13, 1998 from the world wideweb: http://www.aimagazine.com/archives/598/mastor9.html).Black, J. T. & Chen, J. C. (1995). Therole of decouplers in JIT pullapparel cells. International Journalof Clothing and Technology, 7(1),17-35.[TC]2 to feature 3-D body scanning(1997, September). Bobbin (P. 86).Burns, L. D., & Bryant, N. O. (1997).The business of fashion. New York:Fairchild Publication.Cameron, L. S. Mass customization:Oxymoron or manufacturingrevolution? Retrieved May 22,1998 from the world wide web:http://www.manufacturing.net/closeup/invent.htmChase, R. W. (1997). CAD for fashiondesign. NJ: Prentice Hall.The Custom foot offers a new conceptin fitting customers. Retrieved May22, 1998 from the world wide web:http://www.thecustomfoot.com/fag.html.Harris, M. S., Mehrman, M. I. &Dougherty, J. P. (1992, March).Made-to-measure: computing agarment fit. Bobbin, 56-61.Justin, M. (1997, November 10). Give‘em exactly what they want.Retrieved May 21, 1998 from theworld wide web: http://www.pathfinder.com/fortune/1997/971110/bes.htmlKalman, J. (1997, December). Anindustry restructures. Bobbin, 12-14.Lee, L. (1994, September 20). Gar-ment scanner could be a perfect fit.Wall street Journal, pp. B1, B6.Oleson, J. D. (1998). Pathways toagility: Mass customization inaction. New York: John Wiley &Sons, Inc.Pine, B. J., II (1993). Masscustomization. Boston: HarvardBusiness School Press.Pine, B. J. II ., Victor, B., & Boynton,A. Making mass customizationwork. Retrieved May 22, 1998from the world wide web: http://www.unc.edu/~boynton/articles/masscust.html.Rabon, L. C. (1996, August). Customfit comes of age. Bobbin, 42-48.Scheller, H., & Rabon, L. C. (1997,November). Mass customizationaffords product variety. Bobbin, 43-45.Scheller, H., & Rabon, L. C. (1997).Mass customization making pro-cess. Retrieved May 21, 1998 fromthe world wide web: http://www.bobbin.com/media/97sept/mc.htmSRI Consulting. (1997). Masscustomization: Custom capabilityin the era of the mass market.Retrieved May 22 1998 from theworld wide web: http://future.sri.com/BIP/datalog/didesc/2005.htmlTaylor, P. (1990). Computers in thefashion industry. Oxford:Heinemann Professional Publishing.Figure 7. The proposed mass customization process on the apparel factory