The epitome of luxury in high-end fashion is something entirely bespoke; an Haute Couture piece fashioned, fitted and created especially for you. Handmade shoes, hand stitched dresses and hand built watches are beautifully crafted, highly coveted… and often extremely expensive.

The rest of us fill our wardrobes with factory-made fashion; often high quality, but mass produced and designed to fit the majority of people fairly well rather than perfectly.

Is there a way to offer customers the flexibility and personalisation of bespoke products, but at a more accessible pricepoint?

Here, we take a look at two very different retailers, a US-based internet start-up and a British high-end fashion brand, who have chosen innovative and contrasting business models to present a personalised offering without the hefty price tag.

Mass Customisation at Jimmy Choo

Luxury fashion house Jimmy Choo is now embracing the concept of mass customisation. This technique is based on the mass production model in that it starts with a template, which customers can then change in some way. Whilst mass customisation products are generally made to order, starting with a template crucially allows companies to keep costs lower than truly custom-made pieces.


This isn’t a new concept; after all, we’ve been able to choose the color of our new car for years. However it’s a more recent innovation in the high-end fashion world which has tended to split into Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture.
Jimmy Choo’s Made-to-Order collection allows customers to design their shoes… up to a point. They begin by choosing the style (from a selection) and then get offered options such as heel height, shoe color and monogramming options. The results is a custom-designed shoe1.

The Made-to-Order concept partially takes creative responsibility away from the brand and hands it to the customer, says Creative Director Sandra Choi. ‘It’s about giving you, the personal wearer, control. You own it.’2

Uber-personalisation at Stitch Fix

A different sort of personalisation comes from Stitch Fix, the US-based mail order clothing subscription service.3 Members receive a curated box of clothes, chosen for them by the company, which they can try on at their convenience and return if they don’t like.


From month to month members are offered no choice in what they get in the box and so, on the face of it, it seems completely different from the semi-bespoke shoes model which Jimmy Choo offers. However the Stitch Fix concept is actually uber-personalised, this time driven by market-leading data analysis.

Customers start by completing a comprehensive questionnaire about their body shape, tastes and lifestyle. This initial data allows the Stitch Fix algorithms to create a set of potential choices for their monthly selections, which one of their 3,400 stylists manually reviews and then adapts to an individual customer. So each of the clothing boxes are entirely personalised, in effect giving each customer a session with a stylist, yet without spending the time and money normally associated with such a service.

In addition to the initial questionnaire, further data is collected through the feedback sought each time a box is sent (not least whether they keep the clothes) and so the learnings are iterative, allowing Stitch Fix to build an increasingly detailed picture of each customer’s preferences.

Fashion retailers are forging ahead in offering personalised offerings to their customers; a concept that is both very old and very new. Whether it’s mass customisation or data drilling, or other innovations, it’s clear that fashion is finding innovative new ways to get personal.

Bryony Graham