The textile and apparel complex has been scrambling in recent years to adjust to a rapidly changing business environment. Industry leaders have been forced to evaluate this business shift and the ultimate effect on the consumer to determine ways in which the industry might maintain, if not regain, market share. This evaluation ultimately led to the paradigm of mass customization. Mass Customization is broadly defined as the mass production of customized goods (Davis, 1987). Advancement in technologies such as 3-D Body Scanning, Digital Printing, and Computer-Integrated-Manufacturing, have made adoption of customization strategies more attractive to manufacturers, both nationally and internationally. While these technologies offer great benefit to the industry, they are not in and of themselves the answer to all our problems. This paper will explore the issues that have surfaced during this period of technological development that may significantly impact the total adoption of mass customization strategies. These issues include data integration, data integrity, measurement standardization, somatotype (body shape) differences that impact fit of a specific garment, integration of product design activities (specifically apparel and textile), unit production inefficiencies, and consumer fit preferences, to name a few. While significant problems still exist that would make successful implementation of mass customization strategies unlikely on a large scale, there is still much to be gained by use of these technologies, at differing levels. Examples of how this technology can be used most immediately will be explored, as well as problems that are likely to occur during the implementation process.
By: Cynthia Istook, Ph.D. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
Submit Date: 12/31/1999 20:00