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SERVice Oriented Intelligent Value Adding nEtwork for Clothing-SMEs embarking in Mass-Customisation

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Customised fashion goes online

Consumers can now tailor-make apparel online and try out items in a three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment, adding an important edge to the clothing sector in Europe.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy

The fine clothing industry in Europe has been suffering in recent years due to cheaper production in Asia and other parts of the world. Now, a new initiative to implement mass customising of fashion and apparel in Europe may revolutionise the sector and make it more competitive. The EU-funded project 'Service oriented intelligent value adding network for clothing-SMEs embarking in mass-customisation' (SERVIVE) took on the challenge. Project members worked on enlarging the variety of items that could be customised and improve flexibility in design to make apparel more fashionable and more 'fun', in addition to fitting better. They looked at how to develop and test a new production model involving different small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can work together as microfactories under one network. The new business model was conceived to provide trust, choice and service to consumers and suppliers, meeting the needs and requirements of both. In this spirit, SERVIVE revealed that the three most promising market niches are knitwear, sportswear and women's business wear. It then defined customisation options and developed several product configuration paradigms for different project partners to meet their needs. Work also involved integrating customer support functions, style advice for customers and virtual try-on capabilities that involved 3D representation. To help launch this vision, SERVIVE built an online portal and community that lets consumers buy mass-customised clothing items from different suppliers. The platform enables them to build their own profile and virtual twin, with the capability to show configured products to friends as well. Consumers are set to benefit significantly from the flexibility of buying customised clothes online as the market for produced-on-demand apparel grows exponentially. Retailers and designers from the single owner or employee to a chain of fashion stores are also set to benefit from this new online model. SERVIVE outcomes could potentially open up new niche markets and attract a wide variety of online consumers from the fashion-conscious student to the affluent housewife. This flexible, empowering and stylish model of shopping for clothes and accessories could boost the fashion industry and breathe new life into it. Eventually, it could give rise to a competitive, pioneering spirit that will help redefine the clothing sector across the continent.

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