Mass customization of clothing is at least 10 years old – even Levis does it. (The concept goes back to a book written in 1987, Future Perfect.) The NYT just wrote about it – the wrinkle is that it’s now called “customer design.”
Still, the article is nice because it shows how low the barriers to entry are. It also has a good description of how the company learns rapidly from customers, with real time chats and phone calls.
Since last Halloween, when the company’s dress shirt design application made its debut at http://www.blank-label.com, Mr. Bi and his three partners — ages 19, 22 and 30 — have joined a small but growing co-creation movement that uses the Internet to let consumers have a hand in making the products they buy. Web ventures have already popped up that allow shoppers to customize granola MeAndGoji.com, jewelry gemvara.com, chocolate CreateMyChocolate.com, handbags LaudiVidni.com and clothing for girls ages 6 to 12 FashionPlaytes.com. There are also online competitors selling design-your-own shirts, while Brooks Brothers is one major retailer that offers the service on its Web site.