November 16, 2001, 12:00 AM

Chinos first, jeans next, as Lands’ End brings customization to the web

With a body “archetype” database, this custom fit goes beyond waist size and inseam to drill down to weight distribution and curvature.

One month after the implementation of Lands’ End Custom for custom-fit chinos on its web site, Lands’ End is pleased enough with response that it’s testing the tool for customized jeans internally and may add jeans to Lands’ End Custom in January, says e-commerce marketing manager Terry Nelson.

Lands End Custom debuted with three colors of men’s and women’s chino pants that shoppers could design themselves by filling out an online order form with preferences on style and with their own body measurements.

“One of the barriers to mass customization is logistics -- you have to get measured, it’s not very convenient, and it’s not a scalable model,” Nelson says. However, Lands` End`s technology vendor on the project, Archetype, has developed a set of algorithms from a huge database of the actual measurements of millions of people. Those measurements, which go beyond the usual waist and hip size to include those such as shoe and jacket sizes, correspond with various body “archetypes.”

In other words, from the database, Archetype technology “knows” that Lands’ End customers who answer questions about their measurements in a particular way are likely to match a certain body archetype, right down to weight distribution and curvature. That’s why users of Lands’ end custom are asked about things like shoe and jacket size, even though they are ordering a pair of pants.

“If you are five foot nine and weigh 175 pounds and have a 34 inch waist, there could be an infinite number of body shapes in there,” says Nelson. “Based on those other parameters, Archetype gets a model of your body from the database, and that information is used to cut and manufacture a pair of pants. It’s an innovative approach to solving the logistical problem of customization online. Our customers have told us that these pants fit them better than the chinos they’ve been buying from us for years."

Lands’ End isn’t saying how many pairs of custom-made chinos it’s selling or how many site visitors have accessed the tool.


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