A brick and mortar shop win? The recent problems of online tailors.

Friday is for me the day to review what happened the last week and to catch up with the news I have missed. So I did this morning. And I really missed a side notice that I found very interesting: the closing down of Shirts on the fly here in Germany. After the Youtailor.de insolvency this is the second of the big custom tailor services that has to close down. Or at least they have to restructure under the German Insolvenzrecht to find a new way to stay in business.

I wondered right from the start if a concept that originally needed a good measure of personal contact could be so easily transferred to the web (but since I sometimes think a bit old fashioned I was just curious how this will end). Now it seems we have a little evidence that it’s not always enough to copy an idea from real life, make it somehow working on the web and spend loads of money on TV spots.

If you ever went to a real tailor to get a custom tailored shirt, you know what effort it takes to make it right. There is a lot of personal contact in the measuring, the choice of fabric, the choice of details and so on. Usually (if you are not an expert) you will get a load of consulting in the process to avoid the sins of fashion. Even if you do not want to spend that much money on a real tailor there are the chain concepts with brick and mortar stores where the web concept was copied from. You go to a store, get measured and consulted by a real person (which is usually not a tailor). You can see and touch the fabrics, collars and so on. And also can try on demo shirts to get a feel for the cutting.

In contrast to this is the virtual tailor stores you have to measure yourself with lots of details and to a grade that I think is quite annoying. You can olnyl see the stuff you are customizing, but only feel it when you have the finished product. And what lacks the most for me: the feeling of getting a custom tailored piece of clothing with all the trying on, measuring and feeling. So plainly the emotion is missing for me. To buy a custom tailored shirt online is to me like buying one in the local retail store right from the shelf. It merely an act of functional buying.

I really wonder if the other actors on the German market will survive after two of them bit the dust. Usually it’s now a lot harder to get financing. The situation shows in my opinion, that not any concept from local retail is easily be copied if you have enough money. It’s quite easy to press the offline processes into online configurators, but it’s hard to transport the emotional component. If this is missing the whole concept will fail (you ca take a look at some user ratings here). Everyone who bought his shirt custom tailored online should go to a local store to try out the difference – anyway the pricing is not that different. So may be we have a case here were brick and mortar will survive against online pretty well.

One Response to A brick and mortar shop win? The recent problems of online tailors.

  1. Great article. Reminds me of the spurt of online spectacle stores, where I bought a pair and learned the subtle art of measuring pupils and what a diopter was. And what I got back was not a great pair of glasses at a discount but an ill-fitting pair of glasses that gave me huge headaches because I must have measured something wrong.

    It’s not just the emotion that is missing from some online stores. It’s the experience and expertise to make sure that shirt (or those glasses) fit just right. Experience does count.

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