Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Fashion Order

The power-houses of fashion are facing competition. For ages fashion has been dictated by an elite of taste-makers, their whims being watched and instantly copied to become affordable fashion for everybody. But why is it that you would let somebody else dictate and decide what you find beautiful? Of course for a long time being in-fashion gave your personality status, but nowadays in the crowded urban environment more important to have a personal signature and style. One that is recognizable and distinguishes you from the crowd and not easily copied.

So why not make your own fashion? And I don't mean behind the sewing machine, I mean behind the computer. There are some small new businesses mushrooming that truly let you build and create your fashion the way you want it.

Take Knittedonline they offer customized knittings made according to your wishes and creativity. The basic white canvas models can be used as a starting point for your pattern design to create cushions, mittens, hats, tea-cosies, baby-covers. The only limit is your fantasy. You can also order an already existing pattern. Knittedonline is also a community of knitwear designers and other self-taught creatives. You can upload your pattern and if it starts selling you will earn a 5% commission, which eventually could create a small-scale cooperative of knitwear designers, each owning a stake in the success of the company/site.

Unitedstyles is another website let you design your own fashion to stand out from the crowd. The basic principle is quite similar to knittedonline. you choose a white canvas model and then style it by modifying details and adding color and pattern. The prices are very reasonable and competitive with high-street fashion shops. The company structure of Unitedstyles is a typical late capitalistic one; successful entrepreneur at the head of a strong international creative crew.

Both examples naturally remind me of Threadless or NikeID who where the personalization pioneers. NikeID is more of a promotion model for Nike than an actual money-maker, or at least I have never heard of any profit generated by NikeID. The difference is that for Knittedonline and Unitedstyles this is their core business.  Threadless is a great grass-root t-shirt company with it's core in graphic design and print with an avant-la-lettre participatory and competitive element.

I believe these companies are answering an essential need for post-modern people living in crowded urban areas, and the internet is the facilitator and enabler of a new kind of business, Affordable customization on demand. It might change the fashion system.

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