Personalisation and customisation are the next big trends in retail, said Hal Watts, chief executive of London-based knitwear technology start-up Unmade, at the Meet the Manufacturer UK sourcing event in east London today.
“Today’s consumer increasingly sees luxury defined by uniqueness, not by exclusivity,” he said, pointing to the revolution in the music industry as digitisation has transformed the way people buy music.
The company, based at Somerset House, is aiming to shake-up the retail supply chain with its software platform that allows customers to personalise products on demand using existing knitting machinery.
Unmade was launched by Royal College of Art graduates Hal Watts, Kirsty Emery and Ben Alun-Jones in 2013 and raised £2m in seed funding in June last year from investors including Farfetch chief executive José Neves and Edoardo Zegna, head of omnichannel at designer brand Ermenegildo Zegna.
The Unmade brand is used as a showcase for the potential of the technology, where customers can design knitwear-on-demand through its website with a plethora of patterns designed by themselves or designers.
The aim is for designers to be able to interface with the platform, while partner factories will work as a network to produce the garments in future. Unmade has trialled production with a few UK factories and is working with some unnamed Italian factories as partners, Watts confirmed.
“We want to revise the supply chain to a point where companies don’t have to hold stock, they can just produce on demand.”
At the moment, there are three main styles available but Unmade is poised to launch around five more in the next few months, as well as adding cotton to existing cashmere and Merino garments.
He sees the ability to change patterns as the first step, with the eventual aim of offering full customisation of products. The technology is currently centred around knitwear but Watts believes there may be an opportunity to expand to jersey in the next couple of years, he told Drapers.