Words: Red Mosiane

Online shopping is gradually gaining acceptance in the South African market thanks to e-commerce sites working out the kinks and gaining the customer’s trust with improved sites, quality, payment processes and delivery. But that does not mean we’re done. Consumers who are still apprehensive say it’s because of the chance that an item could still arrive at your door step and not fit or not look as good as it did online.

Made To Measure & Customization options allow for an alternative to make both the retailer and consumer happy. Consumers can have more of a say in their final product by sending in their measurements to create a digital fitting and/or having a say in other design aspects of their purchase like colour, fit and finishes.

This isn’t anything new or ground-breaking if you have been paying attention. It’s mostly common and successful in online furniture e-commerce. In fashion, it’s been mostly in terms of printed statement Tees but there’s more that can be done. Levis is credited for pioneering this with their 1995 “Personalized Pair” program where consumers could order jeans of their exact measurements and desired design. It has grown significantly in the past 20+ years with a more recent and highly successful example being Gucci’s ‘DIY’ service in which their customer can customize their bags, shoes and jackets with a buffet of embroideries and finishes.

Locally, South African designers and online retailers have been more focused on stabilizing the market than anything so it hasn’t really caught on as much as internationally but now that more consumers are on board with the basics, it’s safer to diversify approaches to attract more.

Made to measure & customization options can work for both emerging and established brands in different ways. For emerging, it means you can cut down on excess waste and costs by producing less (according to orders) while charging more for your added effort. For established, it is a great alternative to offer your loyal customers to let them have – for lack of a better phrase – more fun with your brand and in turn, further increase brand loyalty.

The real winner here, though, is the consumer. They get to buy exactly what they want. They get clothes that fit and have individualistic combination of features that they contributed to the design.

Now we’re seeing local emerging brands take the risk and move the e-commerce retail industry forward by adapting this approach. Here are two examples of local brands who have adapted this approach:

DOCC – a streetwear brand by influential cool kid and stylist, Nokana Mojapelo, sets out to “cause commotion” by offering the local consumer unique designs. He’s known for working with some of the country’s biggest stars such as Nasty C and attracts attention and orders the world over.


Photographer: Anthony Bila

re.creation is a streetwear brand from a young design collective offering quality stylish basics that could be incorporated in to any wardrobe with ease.


Image sourced from re.creation