Executive Briefings

This Machine Can Knit a Custom Blazer in 90 Minutes - and May Herald a Clothing Revolution

With its tidy racks of dress shirts, trousers and sweaters, the Ministry of Supply shop on Boston's Newbury Street looks, in many ways, similar to other clothing stores.

This Machine Can Knit a Custom Blazer in 90 Minutes — and May Herald a Clothing Revolution

That is, except for the 10-foot-long 3-D knitting machine positioned next to the checkout counter - the one that weighs as much as a car, is outfitted with 4,000 needles and can manufacture a customized blazer in about 90 minutes.

The process requires little in the way of human labor. After a customer selects the colors, cuffs and buttons of the garment, an employee programs the device to crank out a jacket to those specifications.

It may sound like a novelty, but make no mistake: It is a symbol of a potentially industry-shaking wave of innovation taking hold in the apparel world.

This is an experiment in the idea of mass customization, in which clothes are made for an individual's preferences or sizes. It's a departure from the model of selling standardized, mass-produced goods that has dominated retailing for more than a century.

Ministry of Supply's foray into this new territory is in its early days, and 3-D knitting is just one tool that could eventually be used to bring personalized garments to the masses.

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That is, except for the 10-foot-long 3-D knitting machine positioned next to the checkout counter - the one that weighs as much as a car, is outfitted with 4,000 needles and can manufacture a customized blazer in about 90 minutes.

The process requires little in the way of human labor. After a customer selects the colors, cuffs and buttons of the garment, an employee programs the device to crank out a jacket to those specifications.

It may sound like a novelty, but make no mistake: It is a symbol of a potentially industry-shaking wave of innovation taking hold in the apparel world.

This is an experiment in the idea of mass customization, in which clothes are made for an individual's preferences or sizes. It's a departure from the model of selling standardized, mass-produced goods that has dominated retailing for more than a century.

Ministry of Supply's foray into this new territory is in its early days, and 3-D knitting is just one tool that could eventually be used to bring personalized garments to the masses.

Read Full Article

This Machine Can Knit a Custom Blazer in 90 Minutes — and May Herald a Clothing Revolution