Will made-to-order polos have everyone wanting to wear Ralph Lauren?
Brands have been touting the potential of mass customization for years, but is the time now right to make it work in a really big way? The answer is yes, as far as Ralph Lauren is concerned.
The designer lifestyle brand, which has an existing on-demand manufacturing program called Create-Your-Own, is looking to build on that vision with the launch of “The Made-to-Order Polo” feature yesterday on its direct-to-consumer site.
Every shirt made for customers is created to the buyer’s specifications with none of the polos made prior to an order being placed. Lauren is using “flat-knit technology” to make the polos that are currently available in six designs and 24 color combinations. The brand said this will open up hundreds of design possibilities as customers choose colors for the body of the shirt, its sleeves and collar. Further customization is available on the sleeves by adding letters, words or initials. Lauren is planning to add more options including new graphic designs, logos and limited edition features going forward.
The company said that creating shirts via the mass customization model provides multiple business benefits. It helps reduce the amount of inventory that Lauren carries, it promotes rapid fulfillment and gratifies the fashion wishes of its brand loyalists. In the end it also reduces the need for markdowns as customized products do not require premade inventory to work.
The customization model will help Lauren reduce material waste, as well, cut costs and keep product out of landfills.
“Creating custom product is a pretty complex and logistically demanding process, and [it] traditionally touches many hands through the production lifecycle,” David Lauren, the company’s chief innovation and branding officer and vice chairman of the board, told Glossy. “With our manufacturing-on-demand platform, we’ve created a digital solution that automates the flow of data from the consumer point of purchase directly through to the factory, that enables us to create and deliver a totally custom product in as little as two weeks.”
Ralph Lauren is launching a marketing campaign with mobile pop-ups in key markets. The brand’s retail stores and select wholesale locations will also launch “color-themed in-store experiences.” Polo is further looking to use social media, including special Snapchat and TikTok initiatives, to build buzz around its made-to-order efforts.
- Ralph Lauren Introduces The Made-to-Order Polo – Ralph Lauren
- Ralph Lauren expands its made-to-order business with custom polos – Glossy
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think now is the time for mass customization to take off in the U.S.? Is Ralph Lauren in a better or worse position to test the viability of a large-scale made to order model than others with similar aspirations?