Million Dollar Ideas: Copying Clothes

I read a statistic the other day that when men go shopping for jeans, there is a 70+% chance they will come home with a pair, but when women shop for jeans there is only a 24% chance they will come home with some. I was so surprised, I saved the article to show Mrs. Businesspundit. Her response was "of course, because when you try on jeans they always look like crap." Being the goal-oriented person that I am I couldn't understand it. "But if you go to the store to buy jeans, you have to get some jeans. That's the whole point."

The discussion led to Mrs. Businesspundit's clothes-buying philosophy. She happens to be 6'0", and there are no tall women's clothing stores here in Louisville (we hit them when we travel, though). So her clothes, particularly shirt sleeves, are never long enough. When she finds something that fits well, she buys a lot of it. I think it's odd, but if she finds a shirt she likes, for instance, she will buy 4 just like it in different colors. I began to wonder how many other people shop like this and, why clothing companies don't offer it over the web.

Here is how it should work. You go to the store and find something that you like. You wear it a few times and find that you really really like it. So you get online and, somewhere somebody has the pattern that it was made from, right? You find it (maybe at the original company, maybe at some aftermarket clothing house) and order a bunch of clothes in that pattern in whatver colors you want. Sure, custom made clothes are a little pricier, but if this method became popular, some smart entrepreneur would problemably figure out how to do it more efficiently. I think it could be a big hit.

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  1. Travis Jones's Gravatar Comment by Travis Jones on December 2nd, 2005 at 9:00 am

    I know how you must feel. My wife is 6’4″ and when she finds something in a store that she likes she tends to clean the place out of that item. Now you would think that being 6’4″ would mean not finding very many items that fit… but she seems to find something every single time we go anywhere!

    -Travis

  2. Andrew's Gravatar Comment by Andrew on December 2nd, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    Or better yet, just get measured and have a fashion book with sketches, pictures, and material samples sent to you a couple times a month and order from the book. Your clothes will be made to fit your body. Easy for the customer and from a business stand point you can charge a premium price and you waste a lot less inventory. It could possibly be set up to operate on a streamline just-in-time basis, a la Dell.

  3. David Foster's Gravatar Comment by David Foster on December 3rd, 2005 at 12:39 pm

    Very interesting. Seems like it would require a substantial change in the business model…issues to be addressed include:
    1)Where is the custom mfg done? If it’s done in the Far East, where the original garment is pRobably made, transit times will be too long.
    2)How is the split of $ and responsibililties between mfr and retailer done? I’m thinking the mfr runs the US custom mfg site, and the retailer runs the website for placing orders, with a direct feed to mfr. There must be enough markup for both to make a profit. Retailer agrees to put up signs at physical stores telling customers about the program.

  4. Rob's Gravatar Comment by Rob on December 5th, 2005 at 8:12 am

    David,
    That leads to the question of how much people are willing to pay for something like this. More than normal clothing? I’m not sure…

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