So winter is finally over, and although spring has sprung a leak, it’s still undeniably spring. This can mean one of two things – spring cleaning, and spring shopping. How about a spring wardrobe makeover? No need to break the bank over designer labels, however. According to websites offering consumers a personalized touch to shopping, the tag on the label could in theory read, Made by You.
Custom-made clothing is no longer the exclusive right of those who have designers’ home numbers on speed dial. A number of online sites now cater to the designer in all of us with the promise of ‘me’-branded items to make anyone stand out in a crowd.
Zazzle.com, which boasts of being ‘the only on-demand retail platform for consumers and major brands’ promotes customizable items ranging from uniquely designed t-shirts and kicks, to one-of-a-kind skateboards and personalized postage stamps. The site guarantee is that once the user designs their items and clicks ‘purchase’, their order is personally handcrafted and shipped within 24 hours. The website promises retail-quality products, with Keds shoes being used as the canvas for the would-be shoe-designer’s custom-made masterpiece.
A similar website is PersonalizationMall.com. This site emphasizes giving gifts that will be memorable. It is not as individualized as zazzle.com, however, because while you can add names, custom messages, or photos to items, you cannot upload your own design. Also, this site is inclined more towards personalized special occasion gifts, such as monogrammed anniversary pillowcases or photo-stamped wedding day coffee mugs, and less towards the personal creativity of the user.
This is where CustomizedGirl.com has a bit of an edge. With a female-friendly site decked out in shades of pink, purple and fuschia, the company’s main product is customizable tees. It has various themed categories for custom designs, including love and romance, bachelorette party, military wives, vampires and rhinestones, and the man of the year, President Obama. The site allows you to insert font, pictures and names into a template to create a t-shirt in either regular lettering or spelt out in rhinestone, so a typical shirt could read:
These kinds of online platforms could be a dream come true for all the creative types out there, especially those in the fine arts programs or schools of animation who might be used to putting their creativity to work.
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit to match their creative drive, Zazzle offers a sales platform through an online marketplace and gallery where the creator sets the price. This site is also marketed as a cost-saving device for small businesses such as an emerging designer, artist, or musician looking to sell merchandise.
Sound too good to be true? Ryerson student Laura Taylor thinks so.
“That’s a good way to get started, by branding yourself to your clothes … the designs are pretty cool, but then again you need to think about who’s gonna buy these kinds of clothes – most likely young kids/teens/young adults. Do they have a disposable income to spend on clothes that are designer?”
The Ryerson radio and television student also feels wary about putting her credit card information out over the Internet, and does not think it is cost effective for the consumer because of costs of shipping and handling.
“And the economy doesn’t really lend itself well, especially today.”
“I was looking for plain white canvas shoes to work on some concepts I had in mind for my shoe line. I stumbled on a comment about getting the shoes from Keds and when I got to their website, they had the link to customize a pair of shoes, and the rest was, well, history,” he said.
“Until I get a manufacturer to make my shoes “from scratch”, zazzle.com is going to act as my temporary “creative outlet”, as it lets me put the designs I have in mind into reality and get my shoes produced for a relatively low price. Even if it doesn’t economically allow production on a mass scale, it’s better than, well, nothing.”