WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
It’s inevitable that one day we will be able to personalise and manufacture bespoke clothing on demand, in store and at home, and Adidas’s first stab is a good start but there’s still a way to go.
It normally takes most clothing companies anywhere between a year and eighteen months to get new merchandise from an idea on a page to the shelf in the store, and while one day 3D printing will help drastically reduce that time, the technology is still nowhere mature enough to produce clothing on demand.
That said though, when it comes to knitting, that’s a whole different ballgame and Adidas, seeing an opportunity, and a gap in the market have decided to swoop in and open what could be arguably called the world’s first on demand clothing store – even if it does still have some way to go.
To prove the concept they’ve opened up a new pop up store in Berlin where customers can design, manufacture and buy customised Merino wool sweaters for $200.
The process starts when the customer enters a darkened room where dozens of different designs and patterns are projected onto their chests. The customer picks their favourites, then adjusts the colour and pattern combinations on a nearby touchscreen. To get the size right, the buyer can choose between the standard small, medium or large sizes, or opt to strip down to their skivvies for a 3D laser scan fitting.
Once the order is in, the sweaters are machine knitted in the store, then hand-finished, laundered, dried and packaged for pickup, all within four hours.
This isn’t the first time that Adidas has tried to speed up its merchandise supply chain – the company makes heavy use of robots throughout most of its factories and along with the likes of Nike, Under Armour, who recently bought out Architect, a $300 3D printed sneaker that was designed by an AI, and many others it’s also has been playing around with 3D printing.
The “Knit for You” store has been open for a couple months now and reportedly sells around 10 sweaters a day on busy days, and Adidas says it will look at the stores performance before it decides whether or not to roll the concept out to other locations.