Case study

Unmade: unique start-up puts clothing design into hands of wearer

A unique clothing business supported by Innovate UK offers customers the chance to co-create garments and have them made in a few days.

Hal Watts Kirsty Emery Ben Alun-Jones
The co-founders of Unmade Hal Watts, Kirsty Emery and Ben Alun-Jones

Unmade: bespoke knitwear ready in days

Unmade: bespoke knitwear ready in days

Start-up clothing business Unmade has launched innovative new products that will allow shoppers to co-create their own clothing online or in store and have them made within a few days – which could be the direction the UK high street is heading.

The business got off the ground after an Innovate UK-funded feasibility study allowed co-founders Ben Alun-Jones, Kirsty Emery and Hal Watts to test out their idea for Knyttan, a unique software platform.

The trio, who met at the Royal College of Art, said the funding allowed them to visit factories, study various types of industrial knitting machines and consult academic and industry experts – some of whom said their idea could not be done.

Ben said: “It’s very hard to find the time and the cash to seriously investigate an idea. The feasibility award allowed us to take three months out and really focus on whether our idea was possible.”

Unmade worked with

By the end of the study in late 2013 the trio knew Knyttan would work. A project with pop star helped to keep things moving. They then joined a Techstars accelerator programme that helped them to meet investors and attract £2 million in seed funding.

Today, the business, now called Unmade, employs 22 people at Somerset House in London, where three industrial knitting machines are accepting orders. A pop-up store housing a further knitting machine has just opened in Covent Garden.

Unmade is working with leading designers, including Christopher Raeburn, Studio Moross, Malika Favre and Moniker, who have created the templates that shoppers use to customise garments to their own taste.

It will also be one of Selfridges Bright Young Things of 2016 and have its own window display. The pop-up store will move into Selfridges at the start of 2016.

Watch Innovate UK’s fashion future predictions

Future fashions

Business targets global markets

Ben added: “We can enable a designer to have a personal interaction with every single one of their customers, which is something that is not possible without technology due to the vast numbers. It is involving everyone in the product.”

Unmade is focusing on the London market for the next 12 months but has ambitions to expand into global markets. The technology works with existing industrial knitting machines so the model can be replicated wherever there are machines and designers.

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Published 16 December 2015