Today the ubiquity of fast fashion has given rise to a sometimes tragic “who-wore-it-better” narrative. Look around. Everyone is wearing Adidas Gazelles. Last year it was Stan Smiths. It doesn’t matter which tribe we identify with, when it comes to fashion we almost exclusively express individuality via mass-produced products.
Customisation is 2017’s clever solution to this.
Considering true bespoke items are generally expensive, customisation (in the form of subtle, personalised tweeks) strikes a potent compromise. Here are the designers letting you wear your heart on your sleeve.
This Melbourne-based footwear label is known for its fresh take on the classic brogue and impeccable Italian manufacturing. After toying with the customisation concept last year, the label has launched a more comprehensive online design platform – #myhabbot.
Customers can choose from four different shoe styles and 24 types of Italian leather. The options are endless; each individual shoe panel is customisable, right down to the stitching and finer details.
Just like Habbot’s existing range of shoes, all custom templates are shipped off to Italy where a family-run shoemaker brings your designs to life and has them at your door in under a month.
Mon Purse sprang to life at the kitchen bench of 28-year-old Lana Hopkins in Sydney’s Paddington. It’s now one of the posterchildren of the customised-fashion movement.
Chances are you’ve seen one or two Mon Purse leather designs about. Shoppers have creative control over almost every feature with an interactive website that gives 3D-renderings of customisations.
Design your own tote, bowler or bucket bag from the ground up, starting with a collection of templates. Then choose your leather, colour, lining and hardware and you’re all set for the cherry on top: the monogram, which is available as either a silver hot stamp or blind emboss.
Shoes of Prey
Frustrated by the perennial search for the perfect pump, Sydney-born Jodie Fox launched Shoes of Prey in 2009 to solve her own shoe-buying issues. Turns out she wasn’t alone. Millions of pairs have been sold and her company has relocated from Sydney to Los Angeles and now has a team of 200 working across three continents.
With an online design platform that gives shoppers control, it’s not hard to see why Shoes of Prey has found success. Whether it’s ballet flats, stilettos, sandals and recently-launched sneakers you’re after, the process begins with a choice of 15 shoe shapes. There are more than 170 fabrics to choose from in different colours and textures.
Unmade sits somewhere between innovative tech start-up and fashion innovator. Although it’s actually a technology and manufacturing platform, this company gives designers and printmakers the ability to sell customisable versions of their work. Unmade was started by a physicist, a computer scientist and a user-experience expert, and it began as a platform to harness the full potential of industrial knitting machines. It also allows manufacturers to produce one-off designs easily and without wasting materials.
The software is built around interactive prints and motifs, allowing customers to experiment with different colours and play with the size and angles of knitwear.
Unmade has collaborated with Opening Ceremony, Paris Essex and Christopher Raeburn to produce garments that are unique to the person buying them.
Sydney designer Anna Hoang has been redefining the classic white shirt since 2014. Her label Anna Quan is known for pushing tailoring boundaries with subversive cuts.
Hoang’s designs appropriate menswear to fit women’s proportions and feature oversized collars, lapels and elongated sleeves. Customisation comes in the form of detachable French cuffs. The shirts work surprisingly well with everything from high-waisted jeans to flares and pencil skirts.
Anna Quan does monograms well; elegant, inconspicuous lettering is available on the inside of the cuff for an extra $20.
Bondi-born designer Jennifer Kassell specialises in custom leather. Now based in Texas, Kassell runs Understated Leather with her husband.
Opting for a more communicative approach, the label offers a jacket template that customers can then build upon via email. And Beyoncé is a fan. Custom options include leather-engraved patches, hammered rivets, handmade metal shoulder pices, laser-cut fringing and a huge variety of metal hardware.
Jeremy Strode’s unisex label began as a small project in West Palm Beach designing shirts in a basement for his father’s painting business.
Add custom name patches to any garment, including button-ups that resemble retro American mechanic-style shirts. The shirts come in baby pink, classic pinstripe and navy and are all hand-dyed and embroided in a Bushwick apartment on a rickety old machine.
Specialising in custom vintage denim, Hatrik Vintage embroiders sequined patches onto anything, from vintage jackets and overalls, to your old pair of 501s. There are ready-to-wear pieces available, or shoppers can collaborate with Hatrik via email to create a unique patch. Echoing the recent work of Alessandro Michele at Gucci, this label’s most popular designs are floral pieces, animals and even an interpretation of Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa.