October 24, 2001, 12:00 AM

Lands’ End experiments with custom-tailoring on its web site

Just when it seemed there was nothing new to say about ho-hum khakis, Landsend.com has come up with a whole new way to market them. Lands’ End has done a soft launch of custom-fit chinos on its web site.

Lands’ End this week soft-launched a new online feature, Lands’ End Custom, that lets shoppers fill in detailed information about their own body measurements to order built-to-specification trousers on the web site. The company has added the feature to its site initially with no fanfare, intending to iron out any bugs prior to widely publicizing it. A Lands’ End spokeswoman says company wants to ensure that Lands’ End Custom is well integrated with its current web infrastructure and ordering system; and that if all goes well, the company will officially launch the new feature in a few weeks.

But it is already transactional. And though the initial offering is limited to three colors of men’s and women’s chino pants, which are among the bigger-selling items at Lands End, the form that customers must fill out to order the custom-sized trousers also requires them to supply additional information such as shoe size and in women’s case, bra size. That may suggest that chinos could be the first of other SKUs eventually to be offered with customized sizing.

For now, online shoppers ordering the customized chinos get more than a dozen style options on details such as pleats and belt loops. The soft-launch is expected to help gauge customer response – and also how shoppers will fare at supplying the detailed body type information required to successfully customize the fit. Women ordering the customized pants, for example, are asked to choose from a menu that describes hip shape as “curvy, average, or straight,” and “tummy” shape as “flat, average or round.” The description of the new feature underscores the point with the request that customers describe measurements and body shape on the form “as accurately and as truthfully as possible.”

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