Made to order as a recipe for a new fashion system, putting the user/wearer at the centre of creation.
Made to order is quite self-explanatory, items are produced after they have been purchased. The idea is that no unwanted items are produced, and this saves a lot of waste. Fast Fashion retailers have always worked with the principle of order loads, worst case scenario sell a tenth of that (or nothing), get rid of the rest. They really don't value the clothes they make, these companies needs a lot of cheap overseas labour (modern slavery), and investment to function properly.
1. Labour Matters
The complete opposite of that is made to order, the clothes matter, because each single piece is made for a real person, reserved! Each piece has real potential to be crafted, loved and live a long life. Starting a made to order business needs minimal investment, because the labour doesn't have to be as cheap as the garments made are actually paid for by the customer already (and won't just end up in landfills/burned like in the current most used fast fashion model).
Image by Viktoria Bielawa
2. The Investor Matters
There are more positives to the made to order business model, it is the start of a new way of working, a new mindset. New innovations or designs can be tried on an audience, without wasting a lot of money and resources, just think of crowdfunding, it actually works very similar.
The user or wearer is put at the centre of creation, because she or he is funding the production.
The users main goal is to have a well functioning and beautiful product, on the other hand an investor only cares about profits, in this case the items are irrelevant. Therefore the following conclusion comes naturally: When the funding for a project comes from the right source (people) the products and the whole system around that is right away more sustainable, the core interest is right. So who actually funds a project and their values has an immense impact on the company. Where the money comes from is once more really important, and something to think about when creating a sustainable business model.
3. Democracy in Fashion Matters
Furthermore a company based on preorder is easier to start up for young designers, because as mentioned before there is less risk, work and money involved. Preorder makes an organic growth of a company easy, you can start out sewing the products yourself, or hire a small team of seamstresses (part-time, working from home or in your studio) and maybe eventually work with bigger factories. Or you collect as many orders as you need for a minimum order at a factory and then scale up those orders. More small businesses create a more democratic and divers fashion system. As well as that, new business models and ways of working can be tested, for example non-profits fashion brands with social and planetary aims at their core.
4. Your Body Matters
When each piece is made for an actual person, customisation and made to measure suddenly have a much easier entry into the field at a lower price point than usual bespoke services. More sizes and styles can be made available. With a better fit comes a longer wear phase and a better product.
Fashion has the chance to become more than a clothes and profit production.
Image by Adam Razvi