Transformational Avatar Retailing: The Missing Link For Mass Customization?
What I learned at the Mass Customization and Personalization Conference in Montreal last week was that an obstacle to wide industry use of Mass Customization and Personalization fashion garments was a standardized system to input the client’s measurements and store them on a smart card.
As this issue was being discussed I remembered that it was announced last August 07′ that a strategic partnership between the i-Fashion Clothing Technology Centre at Konkuk University and FnC Kolon Corp. (clothing Manufacturer) along with some support from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy in Korea has resulted in development of a mass customization measurement system that is currently being pilot tested called i-Fashion. Perhaps i-Fashion could serve as the “missing link” for development of a standardized sizing system for industry. I-Fashion technology is rapidly positioning to become a global leader in transformational avatar retailing.
Park Chang-kyu, a professor of textile and apparel engineering at Konkuk University spearheaded the development of the i-Fashion technology and is chief of the newly-opened center. So far, he will be working with 11 local clothing manufacturers on this technology. This technology can be used to try on and purchase clothing in-store or online but it is not yet developed to provide the client with custom made items.
Jung Dong-chang the head of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy, said that i-Fashion will help clothing companies create digital catalogs, virtual mirrors, mannequins and advanced radio frequency identification systems. The ministry will invest more than 7 billion won ($7.6 million) through 2011 on the project.
The Shinsegae Department Store (Korea’s second largest department store chain) has placed the first test i-Fashion virtual reality store inside the Korean brand Elord golfwear shop in the main branch of their store as a special service to it’s customers. They claim to be the first retailer to offer this service.
The digital i-Fashion measurement system will scan a customers body in ten seconds and keep track of users measurements (on an encrypted smart card) as well as clothing a customer tries on to help retailers fine tune a specific marketing sector. Once the customer’s measurements are in the database, they get to meet their personalized avatar on a large screen. To virtually try on in-store clothing to see how it fits you simply scan the RFID tag on the item.Shinsegae plans to expand this service to it’s online store next year. This mass customization measurement service is developed to be available to all retailers and the service includes footwear and accessories.