Making your marque: The rise of bespoke fashion

By Rebecca Gonsalves

The trend for customisation and bespoke touches is gathering pace. From monogram mania to meaningful trinkets, this time it’s personal, says Rebecca Gonsalves.

Models including Cara Delevingne wore personalised ponchos at Burberry Prorsum. Photo / Getty Images.
Models including Cara Delevingne wore personalised ponchos at Burberry Prorsum. Photo / Getty Images.

The art of carving important initials dates back to ancient times, but back then it was used largely to identify the emperor when a coin was introduced. Right now, it seems as if the world of fashion has come down with mono-mania, as initials are peppered across everything from high-end to the high street.

Fashion and identity are becoming more closely linked than ever before. The proliferation of bags cannily named after It girls has no doubt played a large part in that. But if you're not likely to have a bag named after you or to buy bespoke, how do you express individuality?

A full name on a shirt might be a bit too close to a name tag or a badge from work, but an embroidery or stamp of your initials is a nice touch. Just ask the models at the Burberry Prorsum autumn/winter 2014 show.

They were all draped in personalised blanket ponchos for the finale, a service that will be available to the rest of us come September.

Footwear is one of the biggest categories for personalisation, ranging from the high-end, with Jimmy Choo rolling out a bespoke service in which customers can choose heel height, material and sole monogram for five styles of shoe, to more high-street operations, thanks to Nike's iD service.

Adidas has taken the process one step further with a project launching in August that will allow customers to print an Instagram image on to the fabric upper of the ZX Flux - forget wearing your heart on your sleeve, choose a selfie and you could wear your face on your shoes.

Less hi-tech is the introduction of hot stamping by Ancient Greek Sandals, which has long used the technique to add detail to its designs.

"It was a natural decision to let our customers personalise their pair using the same technique," says Christina Martini, co-founder and creative director of the brand.

"Putting initials on a shirt or a bag, and now on shoes, makes the object more special - like it was made especially for you. In an age where people crave individuality, branding your initials is a popular option, especially on items that last for a long time, like our classic sandals."

Another key market for the personal touch is jewellery. There is still something to be said for a meaningful trinket - from the ever-popular Pandora to the gilded zodiac signs, which hung from necklaces and nestled on sandals at Valentino this season.

So, what's behind the increased appetite for identity? Perhaps it's because we're increasingly becoming brands ourselves - with Twitter and Instagram handles reinforcing ideas of who we are and what we want to say to the world.

Or maybe it's that idea of attainable luxury and the democratisation of fashion - the belief that we all deserve something as special or unique as we are.

Of course, brands love to stroke our collective ego while adding value and offering something that their competitors can't.

It seems that fashion's increased obsession with identity and individuality is just a sign of the times.


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