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The Second Coming of Mass Customization

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 3, 2009 12:00 PM

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Sunday's Globe column focused on the Boston area start-ups that are offering customized products, from t-shirts to diamond rings to stiletto heels.

Here's my list of every customization-oriented company in the Boston area.

- Ball and Buck
Customized organic t-shirts.

- Blank Label
Suits and shirts targeted to young men.

- Fashion Playtes (still in beta)
Apparel and accessories for "tween" girls. Funded by Launch Capital and New Atlantic Ventures.

- NetVirta (still in stealth mode)
Stitching together digital photos to create a 3-D model of the body, for fit customization.

- 9tailors (still in beta)
Shirts for men and women (and soon, dresses).

- Paragon Lake
Customized jewelry, sold through brick-and-mortar jewelry retailers. Funded by Highland Capital Partners and Canaan Partners.

- Sole Envie (still in beta)
Women's shoes.

- Spreadshirt (German company with US headquarters in Boston)
Personalized t-shirts.

- True Jeans
Not a pure customization play, but aims to help connect you with the best-fitting off-the-rack designer jeans for you, based on your measurements and body shape.

- Zyrra
Custom bras.

Know of others? Do add them in the comments...

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11 comments so far...
  1. - another Babson company - been around for a long time and seemingly doing well + growing

    Posted by Matt Lauzon August 3, 09 04:56 PM
  1. - mass customized backyard structures - doghouses, kid's playhouses, sheds and artist studios, etc. Physical Design translates your Google SketchUp model into a customized kit of interlocking flat parts that assemble without any nails, screws or power tools. This is an MIT start-up that is planning to launch by the end of the year.

    Posted by Daniel Smithwick August 4, 09 12:08 AM
  1. - mass customized architectural mosaics. Walls, floors, murals, portraits. Founded 2007.

    Posted by Ted August 4, 09 09:37 AM
  1. Cool list - nice to see an aggregation of things about atoms rather than (only) bits.


    Posted by Gregg Favalora August 4, 09 12:09 PM
  1. the internet's largest marketplace for custom furniture, custom woodworking, and all things custom made from wood!

    Posted by Mike Salguero August 4, 09 04:51 PM
  1. There are at least three Babson College companies that I know of on this list. The best entrepreneurial college in America.

    Posted by Danny Levit August 4, 09 08:25 PM
  1. I'm a customer of Paragon Lake's. Such a great "product." I'm behind it 100%...even if I don't live in Boston.

    Posted by Andy Koehn August 4, 09 11:39 PM
  1. There are a few others, MOO being the best known "start up" but there are a host of other good customization companies in the New England region. ZCorp has been a trailblazer in this area as well as all the students in Neil Gershenfeld's group at MIT. The Fab Labs go unrecognized, but are doing great work.

    I wrote a post about the activity in New England a little while ago:

    Posted by Joseph Flaherty August 19, 09 07:42 AM
  1. Which ones are the Babson companies??

    Posted by Man in the Mirror August 24, 09 10:28 PM
  1. Don't forget Proper Cloth for men's custom dress shirts Also started at MIT and now based in New York.

    Posted by Seph September 22, 09 01:51 PM
  1. Here's another:
    A design your own gemstone necklace online. Prices about $100. Don't think they're in Boston though.

    Posted by Laura November 4, 09 03:04 AM


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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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