H&M's Weekday pilots custom-made jeans tech, results are strong
As size and fit remain “two of the biggest pain points for customers,” H&M’s Weekday brand has used new technology to test its ability to create products that are “made to a unique size and fit preference”.
H&M’s innovation hub The Laboratory has developed a custom-made jeans pilot with Weekday, the result of which “outperformed expectations”. Of course, it doesn't necessarily mean that the company is going to rush into customised size and fit on a large scale as its massive production runs and mass-market positioning wouldn't, at present, make this a feasible option. But it does seem that some elements of customisation will make it onto the shop floor with the company saying the results showed definite demand for the products and that the technology was able to meet consumer expectations.
H&M said “we constantly push ourselves to become more inclusive and do better today than we did yesterday. This is one of many sustainable business models [we] are exploring, where we see a great advantage for our business in the long term by reducing returns and excess products and only produce just what our customers want”. The purpose of the pilot was both to “understand what [customers] want from a custom-made denim product, what they think about the new experience and to test the readiness of the technologies,” according to Laura Coppen, Sustainable and Circular Business Developer at The Laboratory. Weekday and The Laboratory invited 100 customers to test the tech “in order to gather important insights before launching on a bigger scale”. Customers were body-scanned and offered a selection of customisation options to design their ideal pair of jeans. The company also partnered with Unspun, a Global Change Award Early Bird winner, “which has created an algorithm for a perfect fit”. The algorithm “converts the body scan into a paper pattern and measurement list that is production-ready”. Over the last 18 months, The Laboratory has been developing the algorithm on Weekday denim products alongside Unspun “to ensure it becomes increasingly accurate over time,” we’re told. Production still happens in the firm’s partner factories, which takes 10 days from customer scan and customising to delivery. “Customers then came back for a fitting, where they could try on their customised jeans and give feedback on the end result,” the company said. This feedback included the company getting valuable insights on whether the customers liked the fit of their jeans, whether they were comfortable and, importantly, whether they would buy such a product and what price they would be prepared to pay. Another important point in the research was the readiness of all stages for a wider launch and H&M said it had been aiming for a satisfaction rate of 65% but actually achieved 80%. Coppen added that she’s “an optimist but I had some scepticism on how all the pieces of the puzzle of this model would fit together as we go live. Therefore, I’m really happy to see that the result outperformed our expectations. Due to the positive result we will scale the pilot to an in-store experience. We will likely have more styles and other features based on the customers' feedback”. The whole process also included the customers giving a rating for the experience and this showed that the favourite part of it was the fact that the items were made specifically for them. All the things they enjoyed were the process being ‘easy’ as well as ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’.