Thanks to crowdsourcing and social media, the future of fashion is now in your hands. Brands want to connect with you directly via their Facebook pages, tweets and websites to offer you exactly what you want. How many times have you found the perfect pair of pumps — but wish they had a different heel, or the clutch of your dreams if only it came in suede and had a strap? Now imagine that you could make these creative changes or sketch your own ideal item from scratch. A new wave of websites allows you to do that and more. Some even offer a platform for talent and the potential to profit. TODAY style editor and Bobbie.com’s Bobbie Thomas shares her favorite design-your-own (DYO) sites that are changing the fashion industry by giving the power to the people.
Just launched in November 2010, Sheyna.com is quickly becoming a hot spot for aspiring jewelry designers. Its interactive, click-and-drag site lets you design your own earrings, bracelets and necklaces, paying the utmost attention to every detail from inception to creation. Make your own unique piece, or shop from among the 3,000 existing items from more than 500 designers. With a wide assortment of bases, stones, beads and charms, more than 115 million aesthetic combinations are possible — there is something to suit every taste and budget. If you’re worried that your accessory won’t turn out the way you planned, their merchandising staff reviews all designs for technical feasibility before they are officially published. Even better — every item is handmade and shipped for free. ($4-$5,000; www.sheyna.com)
You could easily spend the better part of a day (oh, who am I kidding, a week) experimenting with the billions of color and texture combinations on JeffSilverman.com to create a one-of-a-kind pair of shoes or handbag. The former president of Steve Madden Ltd. has created a virtual store where the main attraction is the ability to design your own. You can also buy many inventive, ready-made items. After choosing a basic template, the site will walk you through the process, offering step-by-step choices to build on every detail from the sole of your shoe to the stitching of your satchel. The end result is something special that you created to signify your personal style. If you can’t bring your vision to fruition using their provided options, you can send in pictures, sketches or even a plain text description of what you are looking for, and they’ll manufacture it for you, tweaking everything until it’s exactly right. Once you’ve produced your perfect piece, the site even allows you to capitalize on it — after all, it’s your design. So every time someone buys your creation, you’ll earn $20. ($100-$175; JeffSilverman.com)
If you've ever dreamt of a career as a fashion buyer, ModCloth.com is a place where your dreams become reality. Founded in 2002 by then 17-year-old Susan Gregg Koger, ModCloth was a cyber spot where she could display her love for vintage clothing and sell pieces from indie designers around the world. Now, in addition to offering many eclectic clothes and accessories for sale, ModCloth also features a “Be the Buyer” program that gives customers the chance to be a part of their fashion buying team. The site displays clothing from independent designers and then visitors vote on their favorites among hundreds of samples. When a piece receives enough votes, ModCloth will sell it to the public. ($17.99-$127.99; Modcloth.com)
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Growing up, I was happy when my drawings made it onto the refrigerator door. Today, Garmz.com allows anyone with a sketch and a vision to upload their creative designs to a worldwide audience and then take part in an interactive community to vote and comment on which pieces should be produced and sold. Shifting the focus onto the designer, the London fashion startup gives you the opportunity to invest in someone's dream design. Browse the images for inspiration or create a personal profile to share your own work. If your piece receives enough attention to be manufactured and sold, you will share in the profits. All designers can upload as many items as they want and will keep the copyrights to everything submitted. A great opportunity to buy a limited-edition clothing article, and who knows, you could end up the proud owner of an original by the next Marc Jacobs. (Prices vary per piece; Garmz.com)
Credited as being one of the leading online providers of eco-friendly furniture, Inmod.com allows visitors to not only customize retro pod and egg chairs, but also hosts the popular Design Your Own Pillow and Duvet Studios. Following the easy online instructions, you can create linens expressing your style via an array of colors, patterns, prints and graphics, then choose the size and fabric that suits your taste. Each pattern is intricately embroidered and final products are shipped for free. For those interested in celebrity, next month the site will be launching an extended set of pop culture themes for their pillows, including Hollywood-inspired designs. ($40-$115 for pillows, $126-$870 for duvets; Inmod.com)
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