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Oct 18, 2023

How to digitalise tailoring, the most analogical fashion market?

Who wants to take measurements at a tailor’s shop anymore? Some want just to wear their creations fuss-free. 

Over the last decades, the digitalisation of fashion has been a game changer for the industry. However, one sector that has struggled to adapt to the digital transition is tailoring, which has always been rooted in traditional, analogue techniques.

Tailoring has always been associated with artisanal and handcraft traditions and has been resistant to digital technology in all its forms. Nevertheless, the rapid digitisation of the fashion industry in recent years has highlighted the need for tailoring brands to develop immersive digital experiences that offer an omnichannel customer journey and engage their clients.

This is also an opportunity for tailoring brands to modernise and offer a more integrated customer experience.


Understanding the contemporary tailoring market 

The tailoring market has undergone significant segmentation in recent years, with new players approaching and top brands renovating their identity to meet market demands. 

At the top of the pyramid are the heritage brands, which specialise in made-to-measure (MTM) and bespoke suits. These brands have responded to market needs by developing ready-to-wear collections while focusing on their positioning. 

@zegna L'OASI DI LINO A sense of soft precision defines the L'Oasi di Lino Collection, which is crafted from an array of innovative Oasi Lino fabrics including gabardine, faille, washi, tussah and bourette. Shades of Limestone, Serengheti Grey, Lichen and Mastic draw from the natural world and the landscape of Oasi Zegna, the 100km² home of our values in the Alps of northern Italy. #ZEGNASS24 #OASILINO ♬ suono originale - ZEGNA

Zegna is a brand that underwent a total minimalist re-branding. Creative director Alessandro Sartori changed the brand name, modernised the logo, and introduced a new design perspective before the group’s initial public offering in December 2021, when it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. These strategies enabled the brand to expand its value into the fashion market and convey its values of quality and craftsmanship, related to its tailoring heritage, into a new market.  

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Un post condiviso da ZEGNA (@zegnaofficial)

The brand’s new logo refers to a new aesthetic that is less formal and strict and more focused on comfort. The new creative director shifted the brand image from a very linear, rigid and traditional one to a top-quality fashion brand, creating a whole new shape (and cuts) for formal wear with a focus on textiles and silhouettes, establishing a new value for the brand: contemporaneity.


Leading digitalised fashion brands boost made-to-measure services, while traditional tailors struggle to find the financial resources to move into the digital era 

The fashion industry is undergoing a shift in its approach to tailoring. Many brands are turning to craftsmanship to elevate their brand perception, while traditional tailors struggle to keep up with innovation. So, the size of the fashion brand appears to make s a huge difference in performance.  

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Un post condiviso da Giorgio Armani (@giorgioarmani)

Let’s delve into that. On the one hand, many fashion brands are opting for the sartorial route to elevate their value and positioning and provide customers with a premium alternative that meets their needs. In other words, leading fashion brands like Brunello Cucinelli, Dolce&Gabbana and Giorgio Armani have introduced their MTM service in recent years, developing one-of-a-kind luxury experiences for their customers. By doing so, these brands have been able to cater to the specific needs of their clients, providing them with a perfectly fitting suit or blazer that aligns with their aesthetic and brand image. This approach transforms the experience into a personalised shopping and styling session rather than just a standard fitting. These brands leverage the MTM service to enhance their luxury positioning, aiming to reach the top of the fashion pyramid by adding craftsmanship to their value portfolio.

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Un post condiviso da Giorgio Armani (@giorgioarmani)

On the other hand, traditional tailors have struggled to adapt to the digital area. They have been slow to embrace digitalisation, making it difficult for them to keep up with changing consumer habits. Many smaller, artisanal brands with local tailoring shops have been the foundations of the Italian tailoring tradition for years. However, many of those brands have not been able to adjust their business models to suit the digital age, which requires a significant financial investment.


Being true to their roots can be a radical solution for old-school tailoring brands to thrive 

How do old-school tailoring brands thrive? One possible brand strategy can be focusing on their pre-existing strengths, developed through years of experience and a solid customer base of loyal customers.

The bespoke tailoring experience relies heavily on physical contact with the tailor, who not only takes measurements but also tries to understand the client’s taste and to identify any postural issues, making adjustments to the garment to fit the customer’s body. 

In addition, the customer’s choice may also be influenced by the tailor’s taste and unique characteristics. Tailoring enthusiasts pay close attention to details determined by the tailor’s technical expertise, referring to a Kantian aesthetic, focusing on small details and not just the overall look of the garment. The shape of a lapel, the notch’s characteristics, and the pocket or waistband construction are all critical factors in appealing to demanding customers who appreciate top-notch tailoring.


The rise of masstige brands 

A new interesting trend in the tailoring industry has emerged with the rise of specialised brands like Indochino and Suitsupply, known as masstige brands, catering to a wider range of customers who seek good quality suits at affordable prices.

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Un post condiviso da Suitsupply (@suitsupply)

Masstige is a marketing term coined by combining ‘mass’ and ‘prestige’, to define brands that have made a name for themselves by producing good quality clothing in an industrial setup. In this way, they have become the go-to option for a larger number of customers.

What sets these brands apart is their innovative business model. They offer an MTM experience that is different and less sophisticated than the one provided by luxury brands and tailor shops. Some even offer remote measurement-taking services, with a fast fashion strategy in terms of timing and distribution, supported by a great customer care team. 

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Un post condiviso da INDOCHINO (@indochino)

These brands use a 'master garment' to create their clothing, making only minimal adjustments to achieve a good fit and efficient production time. This approach offers a different experience based on value for money.

Tailoring services will likely continue adapting to modern customers’ needs who value time and cost-effectiveness: while they still value the tradition of taking measurements at the tailor’s shop, it is more of a nostalgic practice than a realistic customer experience.



Niccolò Caperoni
Fashion Business Alumnus, Firenze



Want to know more? Read the article by Niccolò Caperoni published in the I’M FIRENZE DIGEST magazine, powered by Istituto Marangoni Firenze students. Head there now to read more about fashion, art, beauty and Florence, with inspiring book recommendations, playlists, places and exhibitions to visit.