The trend of personalization has crept up steadily over the last year. Hints of it were suggested in the DIY-esque elements of embroidery and cross-stich incorporated into the fall runway shows of Gucci, Tanya Taylor, and Altuzarra. A halo of it surrounded Adidas’ launch of the first of their city-specific runners, tailored to pound the pavement perfectly in customers’ exact urban sphere. Uncanny glimpses of it can even be sensed in the app-slimmed jawlines and waistlines of your own friends’ selfies.
The recent BoF-McKinsey Global Fashion survey identified personalization as 2018’s number one trend. As consumers increasingly value individuality and the pursuit of the aspirational “best self,” brands will respond—both in the digital world, using data to craft custom product recommendations, and in the physical retail space as well. An example of the latter can be found in leatherware company Coach’s latest endeavour, Coach Create, a build-a-bag concept currently available in 28 North American stores (including locations in Ottawa, Calgary, Laval, Toronto, and Vancouver). Visitors may choose a purse style, then mix and match from a selection of add-ons: leather tea rose appliqués, prairie rivets, and souvenir pins shaped like lightning bolts, numbers, skulls, and starry-eyed smiley faces. Once the look is assembled, an artisan seated at an in-store mini workshop will hand-bolt the detailing onto the bag before the client’s eyes, adding a bag tag decorated with any of over 100 stamps as a finishing touch—all within about 40 minutes (you can also design and order online).
The process is a fun experience in itself, and intends to introduce a novel bit of autonomy in the retail space, where consumption, not creation, is the stalwart standard. As personalization and curation increasingly become more important to the customer, Coach plans to expand on its strength—leather craftsmanship—and develop Coach Create. In early 2018, the brand is launching a full “Make it to Order” service, exclusive to their busy Vancouver flagship, in which everything from the hardware to the style and colour of a bag can be tinkered with, resulting in countless possibilities for an original piece. Gone are the days of wanting the same bag as everybody else—this is the era of the individual, and savvy brands must adapt.
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