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US apparel brand Ministry of Supply is partnering with the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT to instantly tailor sweaters to a customer’s measurements. The new in-store service will combine a robotic heat gun and sweaters made out of a special fabric that shrinks when exposed to heat. This will allow Ministry of Supply to ‘shrink fit’ a sweater to a customer’s precise measurements while that customer waits in the store. The new service is intended to target one of the eternal problem of mass-produced fashion: how to serve customers whose size puts them between (say) a large and a medium.

Robotic sweater shrinking: pretty neat. But what’s in it for you?

The personalized past, present, and future. Instead of being considered exceptional, totally bespoke offerings are now becoming expected. Services such as Spotify and Netflix serve the ‘segment of one’ as standard, delivering a unique experience to each one of hundreds of millions of users. Now, those expectations are transferring to IRL products and experiences too, such as these custom sweaters Adidas can knit for customers in four hours, and of course Ministry of Supply’s innovation. If mass-produced fashion can’t ignore the segment of one, neither can you.

Tech to what end? The sweaters that result from this process are not ‘smart’; as in, they’re not internet-enabled. But they are smart in the way that counts most: they’re a perfect fit. That’s why this innovation feels such a perfect marriage of high-tech and great customer experience. Embracing new tech is great. But before you rush to put it into the hands of customers or to use it yourself, remember to ask: what is the core human need we’ll be serving via this technology? How are we delivering a great experience?