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Referred to as “the holy grail” of garment manufacturing, Made-to-Order or On-demand production is a process where garments are produced locally after they have been ordered and in the quantities/styles required.

The reverse of mass manufacturing and “chasing the cheap needle”, Distributed Made-to-Order is inherently about supporting global connectivity and local productivity where digital patterns travel globally, while garment sourcing, sewing, repair and waste management stay local.

Imagine a world where you can order the latest GANNI dress, send in your measurements — and it is made by your local micro-factory, with as locally sourced as possible materials, QC’ed via a video call and sent to you — along with a guarantee of lifetime repairs.

Why Is It The Future Of Garment Manufacturing?

1. It entirely eliminates excess stock or unsold inventory (⬇ waste) A staggering 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year, that's nearly 14 items for every human being on the planet. Some 20% of these go unsold, leftovers are usually sold without labels, buried, shredded or incinerated. This is because forecasting demand (i.e knowing which size, style and colour will sell) — is a very hard problem for most brands — which is why they overproduce/overbuy — and end up with unsold clothes. Thomas, D. (2019). The High Price of Fast Fashion

Made-to-Order = GOODBYE overstock

2. It gets rid of the toxic dependence on Shopping Holidays (⬆Full Price Sales) Pushing stock via progressively increasing discount percentages, not just damages brand image, it is a dated concept which reduces full-price sales and converts people into bargain shoppers.

Made-to-Order = more full price sales

3. It makes well-fitted clothing accessible to everyone (⬆ inclusive) Fun fact - only 25% of the UK population falls firmly into a single-size category (Pattern Project, 2022). There are more of us who do not fit into standard sizing than those who do! In fact, Standardised sizing emerged as a way to cut costs as the catalogue industry blossomed in America, and it has been plagued with problems.

Instead of our bodies fitting into the pre-made garments, Made-to-Order based on parameterised custom-fit blocks can ensure well-fitted clothing for all sizes. It also allows for simple interventions like making sure that the waist falls at the right point no matter how long or short the torso and shoulders fit well!

Made-to-Order = body positive clothing

4. It creates resilient supply chains by re-building skills locally (⬆resilience) Despite the UK’s rich heritage and tradition in tailoring, skilled sewing machinists are now rare, and new trainees are difficult to recruit and retain. The Made-To-Order model has the potential to create meaningful jobs due to the non-repetitive nature of the approach, and make being a multi-skilled sewing machinist an interesting and well-paid option for younger people.

Made-to-Order = meaningful jobs

5. It has the potential to reduce garment manufacturing carbon emissions by 47% (⬇ emissions) In 2020, the University of Nottingham did an analysis stating that there stands to be 47% fewer emissions by manufacturing clothes domestically vs overseas. These gains are because factories overseas are not powered by renewable sources of energy, and savings on transportation. Little, M. (2019). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Stages of Garment Manufacture.

Made-to-Order = reduced emissions

6. It offers endless design possibilities Computation fashion design can support designers' creativity and help make better use of available fabric. Read more here.

Made-to-Order = creative fabrication

While a network of distributed Made-to-Order micro-factories is much more difficult to build than a mega garment manufacturing factory, it is the future that garment manufacturing deserves. As Paola Antonelli has said “Clothing is the most universal and most intimate design object. Every day, everywhere, everyone wears something.” We should work hard to get this right since we have got it so wrong right now.

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Updated: Jul 6, 2022

At Pattern Project, our mission is to make clean, on-demand production of clothing the norm for UK brands. Shifting the fashion industry to a local, made-to-order model is ecologically sustainable (no unsold stock) AND offers limitless possibilities for designers. As each garment is made-to-order, it can be customised so that it is perfect for the wearer, both in terms of fit and design.

Companies are already offering customisation using digital printing and knitting, but this can be taken to the next level by fundamentally changing the structure of clothing. We are offering four new production services to create truly bespoke garments at scale, with an MOQ of 5 in our flagship South London micro-factory:

  1. Data-informed Fit Production Service

  2. Custom-Fit Production Service

  3. Modular Design Production Service

  4. Parametric Patterning Production Service

Data-informed Fit Production Service

Using data-driven analysis to propose garment-specific sizing options, to ensure a good aesthetic fit for the widest range of people.

Case study: Phoebe English Striped Dress

This Phoebe English striped dress features a drop waist (falling below the natural waistline) and an overall boxy fit. We used our UK representative data analysis tool and learnt that for a large percentage of people the drop waist would fall either too high or too low.

The sizing was then extended to 3 height ranges and 6 standard sizes (a total of 18 sizes). This tweak means it will look correct for 95% of the population.

Custom-Fit Production Service

Using parametric blocks to create a tailored garment to give a perfect fit, while retaining the design intent across body shapes.

Case study: Sophie Hawkins Pleated Skirt

This Sophie Hawkins Pleated skirt has been converted into a custom-fit pattern. Each edge and fold of the skirt is held in our digital library as a series of formulas.

The pattern is produced after a 15-minute phone consultation with the customer. Our carefully crafted formulas, developed in consultation with Sophie Hawking, ensure that the garment look of the design remains consistent across body shapes.

Modular Design Production Service

Splitting a garment into its component parts to enable customers to substitute in various choices and make it just right!

Case study: Needle and Cloth Dropped Sleeve Top

This Needle and Cloth P2 dropped sleeve top is our most popular own-brand product. We offer a choice of hem finish, sleeve length and pocket placements across adult and kids sizes and a range of fabrics.

There are nearly 1000 variations available. Having no inventory has helped us reach the widest possible range of customers.

Parametric Patterning Production Service

Algorithmically generating new internal patchwork shapes based on boundaries decided by the designer.

Case study: Coming Soon!

While the other 3 processes allow the customer to have the ideal product for them, parametric patterning can open new realms of possibilities for the designer.

By generating rules that a particular garment can follow a series of unique designs can then be derived. The variations can be generated based on boundaries determined by the designer, the customer or even what offcuts of fabric are available.

To find out more email us at

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