Style is personal, so why should fashion be formulaic? Now more than ever, consumers are choosing to put their own stamp on everything from swimsuits and sneakers to denim and accessories. Bobbie Thomas, “Today” style contributor and author of “In Touch Weekly’s The Buzz,” highlights the hippest ways to custom-create your clothing.
Personalized performanceTechnology has helped turn traditional sportswear shopping upside down, and with inventions like the Internet and virtual foot-scanning pads, consumers are now literally able to find the “perfect fit.” Beyond Fleece offers competitively priced high-end outerwear that is custom-created online based on the consumer’s color, option and fit preferences ($75-$230; BeyondFleece.com).
Even major footwear companies are jumping onto the personalized playing field. Adidas, who once offered customized performance wear products only to top athletes, has launched a special “Mi Adidas” sneaker campaign that is now available to all consumers. In just 20 to 25 minutes, an in-store expert measures your feet, tests what type of runner you are, and makes fit adjustments based on comfort, control, cushion and guidance, before letting you add design details like color and embroidery ($150-$270; 212-529-0081). And after 35 years, the company has reintroduced Adicolor with a global design contest. A limited supply of all-white footwear was produced, along with customization tools such as quick-drying weatherproof markers to allow every consumer the chance to express individuality and personal style (212-673-0398).
Meanwhile, for just $10 to $15 more than what a standard model costs, Nike lets you customize kicks, apparel, bags and watches (www.nike.com). And even accessories are getting personal! Outdoor specialty staple L.L. Bean offers custom options like reflective trim on their adventure duffels — helping to drive home the point that sports gear cannot only be stylish, but also unique to your needs ($39-$69; LLBean.com).
While custom creations were at one time reserved only for couture clothing and eveningwear, individualized items are now being offered as part of your everyday wardrobe. Classic companies like J. Crew let you shop online for bathing suits, polos, sweaters, and button-downs, all of which can be monogrammed or marked with a “critter” of your choice ($10 per item; JCrew.com). And just in case you’re not the designer you hoped to be, casual clothing company Lands' End lets you return custom-created pants and shirts for a full refund — no questions asked ($49-$79; LandsEnd.com). But with virtual models that can be adjusted to look like you, and a system that remembers your individual preferences for future orders, something tells us it won’t be necessary.
Design your dream denimWhen it comes to designer denim, it’s all about the details. Celebrity and fashionista favorite Earnest Sewn opened a flagship NYC Earnest Cut-and-Sewn store centered around the ultimate in D.I.Y. service. You can choose the wash, thread color, back-pocket design, and hardware. Extras like skull and crossbones buttons, slingshot back-pocket designs, an on-site tailor, and a copy of your signature in the lining make this denim totally unique to you. Just know that your personal stamp comes with a pretty price tag as well — be prepared to shell out 500 to 800 bucks (212-242-3414).
While the custom-clothing craze may apply to all aspects of your wardrobe these days, the biggest market for personalized clothing is clearly the T-shirt business. From Funkylala.com and Zazzle.com to CustomGlamGirl.com and SparkFashion.com, there are literally thousands of Web stores that offer custom tees. So where do you even begin? Diva site Delicate Tomboy lets you lash out against guys who have burned you in the past by filling in the blank to the phrase “Never date a guy who …” ($45-$85; DelicateTomboy.com). Meanwhile, Threadless.com is encouraging interactive personalization with an ongoing design contest. Each week, anyone with an e-mail address can submit a T-shirt design or drawing, and consumers vote online to choose the top three ideas. Threadless then prints and sells the winning designs on their site, and grants $2,000 in prizes to the first-place designer ($12-$25; Threadless.com). Even if designing isn’t your forte, this site lets you — the consumer — dictate the trends. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the power of the vote.
European tailoring and a couture fit were once a sign of suits for the elite. Now, with the help of futuristic technologies such as 3-D body scanners and virtual models, mass-produced high-end companies like Brooks Brothers are offering “Made-to-Measure” and “Digitally Tailored” custom suits to their entire consumer base. A marriage between old world tailoring and modern engineering, Brooks Brothers’ individualized services result in a custom-made garment that costs less than most traditionally hand-tailored suits ($975-$3,875; BrooksBrothers.com).
Build-a-bagWhile for the first time ever, major design houses like Coach are letting you put your stamp on their accessories with a signature collection that can be monogrammed in-store ($25 extra; Coach.com for details), the big buzz about bags these days is to design your own from start to finish. 1154 Lill Studio lets you choose the style, fabric, frame, strap, interior, exterior, pockets, and more for your handbag, and offers hundreds of options that are updated constantly to ensure each bag remains unique. And to top it off, they’ll even help you host a handbag-making party for your friends ($58-$150; 1154Lill.com).