Knyttan Banks on Custom to Crack the $200 Billion Knitwear Market
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how Guildery raised $2.1 million in funding to bring their vision of customizable home goods online to life. Now, U.K. based clothing startup Knyttan has announced that they’ve raised $3.1 million in seed funding to throw their hat into the customized products ring. With this capital, they are planning to build a business based on their “curated customization platform.” To support this platform, Knyttan developed a digital production system that transforms industrial knitting machines into 3D printers for clothing, allowing their customers to design and order their own personalized knitwear. These custom items are then “printed” out of Merino wool, costing about $315 for sweaters and $125 for scarves.
Basing their business model on custom offers Knyttan some pretty huge benefits. Custom products can command premium prices, foster enhanced customer to brand relationships, and create added value for consumers who now consider themselves part of the creative process behind their purchase. And beyond these consumer-facing benefits lie some pretty significant upsides on the manufacturing and distribution side of the coin that have potentially massive implications for the future of the textile industry.
All of Knyttan’s products are completely custom. They are designed and rendered digitally on their site, and only when a customer actually pays for their order does physical production begin. Shifting to a custom, zero stock, on-demand method of production and distribution means that Knyttan doesn’t have to worry about unsold inventory or surplus manufacturing. It also means that they spend less on costly prototyping and design, and enjoy drastically shorter production lead times as there is no need to re-tool their manufacturing equipment; they simply upload a new design file and it’s off to the races.
Knyttan’s highly innovative business model holds many lessons for businesses that are considering adopting product customization. While the considerable advantages that custom products offer consumers are becoming increasingly well known, some brands have historically shied away from custom over concerns about the costs associated with manufacturing and distribution. Knyttan demonstrates that those concerns can not only be addressed, but reversed.