If you’ve ever spent the extra time and money to take your favorite dress or new suit to the tailor, you know that fabulous feeling of having a garment fit like it was made just for you. The whole world becomes your runway. Time and time again, you choose it over your other suits and dresses, because well, it just looks better and makes you stand out from the crowd. What if every garment fit you like that, and you didn’t even need to take it to the tailor? Is this possible, and would it be worth it?
It is possible, and it is a small movement in the fashion industry called “made to measure.” Made to measure fashion differs from the typical way of shopping because each garment is made according to the individual measurements of the customer. This can be done by using measuring software, or the customer can input their own measurements when they place their order. There are already some burgeoning brands out there, such as Litany and Oremus, taking the leap into made to measure fashion, and they have good reason for doing so.
“Every woman’s body is as unique as she is, and we have the technology now to make quality garments that reflect that, and we feel we have the responsibility to do so,” says Veronica Marrinan, owner of Litany, a woman’s clothing line that is exclusively made to measure. “Right now, women often feel like they need to fit themselves into a place in fashion, but we believe it should be the other way around: fashion should be made to fit them.”
This aspect alone challenges the traditional model of fast fashion, where consumers’ insecurities are preyed upon in order to sell a product. But what else differentiates made to measure from fast fashion? It is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly, for one thing. “Made to measure often offers a better quality of fabrics and construction and provides an overall better experience for the client, but it’s also more sustainable as nothing is made without someone commissioning it. This means little to no waste of fabrics and materials,” says Renzo Agcaoili, owner of Oremus, a made to measure menswear company.
Most brands mass-produce garments that they hope will sell, but what happens with the leftover stock when, say, a pandemic hits or the store goes bankrupt? The clothes are often burned or thrown into landfills, both of which have disastrous consequences to the environment. This is guaranteed to never happen with made to measure lines, because they only produce what is ordered. At Litany, the fabrics aren’t even ordered until they are needed, ensuring that nothing is needlessly produced.
Buying made to measure also promotes buying better instead of buying more. When you have a garment that fits you perfectly, you won’t want a cheap one-size-fits-all from the department store. The made to measure movement champions slow-fashion for many reasons, but also because it quite literally takes longer to create a tailored garment, which some might point to as a downfall of the made to measure model. We are so used to the instant gratification of regular shopping, that the idea of waiting a few weeks for a garment to be custom made can seem like forever. But maybe this is exactly what our shop-obsessed culture needs.
Made to measure might take a while for the average consumer to warm up to, and it also has to make some strides in accessibility, as made to measure often has a higher price point. This is to be expected to some extent, because a well-made garment takes more time and expertise, and thankfully can’t be cheaply made in a sweatshop. Hopefully, as this model becomes more mainstream, new technologies will allow for a quicker, more affordable process.
Overall, the made to measure model is a promising option that seeks to heal many of the wounds of the fast-fashion industry, and we hope it is here to stay.