the desire to be different: how brands are shifting to customized clothing


photo: clem onojeghuo on unsplash

From custom shoes to custom jeans, consumers these days are looking for an elevated buying experience. Going to the store and picking something off the rack is not enough for some consumers anymore. They want variety and uniqueness, and they want shopping to be an experience. Plenty of brands such as Converse, Nike, Levi’s and Fame and Partners are heading in this direction. 


Custom Converse 

Converse has customization studios in select stores and online where customers can choose almost every aspect of their personalized shoes. Customers can choose from four categories of shoes including high tops, platforms, low tops, boots (lug soles) and slip-ons. From there, customers can choose their desired color for each section of the shoe, and the choices are limitless. The fabrics range from plain colored canvas to extravagant prints— such as houndstooth, plaid, leopard print, zebra print and even a monster-eyed print. Each section is customizable—the tongue, laces, stitching, eyelets, rubber, and the classic Converse logo. They have unique patches for the logo that elevate the design even more. If customers want to get even fancier, they can choose to have their shoes embroidered. The Classic Converse Chucks are a pretty simple sneaker, but with the customization studio, customers can rock something that is unique to their own personal style. Sporting kicks that nobody else in the world has creates an unmatched shopping experience and makes an ordinary pair of shoes feel so much more special. 

Nike By You 

Similarly, Nike has a vast selection of shoes to customize on its website. Styles include running shoes, Blazers, soccer cleats, Air Maxes and Air Force 1s in both the high, mid and low varieties. Nike has expanded their custom shoe options, as it used to only be a select few. This change accommodates the growing interest in personalized fashion. To customize the Nikes, customers can use online software to choose the colors they want for each section of the shoes. There are two fabric choices available: Leather for a sleek and slightly dressier look, or canvas for a more casual and classic look. The shoes are along the pricier side, ranging from $140-$300 depending on the shoe, but it is all for the experience. 


Levi’s Tailor Shop 

Levi’s has custom tailor shops at select retail locations that offer tailoring services, customization services and repair services. Customers can make an appointment online and then go to the store to meet with a stylist to communicate how they want to personalize their jeans or jean jacket. Services offered include distressing, paneling, button swaps, studs, patches, pins, embroidery and monogramming. This is a perfect option if a customer has an old pair of Levi’s that they want to give new life to and make into something unique. Levi’s offers their customization services in select retail stores, so tourists are more likely to personalize a pair of jeans on their trip as a memento of the vacation. The jeans are not just jeans, but a long-lasting souvenir that represents a fantastic vacation. Denim is like a blank canvas, so any embellishments or enhancements can make all the difference. Levi’s tailoring services are also very helpful, as customers can not only get customized denim but also customized denim that fits perfectly. 

Fame and Partners: The Custom Studio 

Fame and Partners’ mission is to create custom dresses that allow women to feel like their best selves. The brand offers its own designs that can be customized in a multitude of different ways and are made to order to reduce waste. This sustainable practice is revolutionary, as many brands do not engage in made-to-order practices anymore. The dress’s style, length, sleeves, necklines and back design can be altered to meet customers’ desires. Each dress is customizable with different fabric options and colors, and is made to fit the customer’s measurements. These dresses are perfect for special occasions, such as weddings, bridal showers, honeymoons, cocktail parties and a plethora of other events. These dresses would be perfect for a bridal party because if the bride were to choose one specific style, each bridesmaid could tailor the dress to meet their needs by changing the length or neckline while still maintaining a cohesive look. The website is very easy to navigate and the dresses are organized into different categories based on occasion, color and style. The dresses range in price from $200 to $349 with each customization adding a small cost.  

In a world where building a personal brand and style is all the rage, these companies cater to consumers’ desire to be different. In prior decades, individuals would buy clothing so that they could fit in. However, today’s individuals are starting to buy clothing so they can stand out. Walking down the street in a regular old pair of Levi’s versus walking down the street with distressed Levi’s adorned with patches down the leg, the latter is sure to prompt a second glance. 


Consumers want their shopping experience to be an experience. Individuals can go to a Converse store and design their very own pair of shoes. Clothes break the boundaries of just merely being clothes and they begin to have an emotional and personal aspect to them. 


Imagine this: a couple is browsing the shelves at the Converse store in New York City and they see that they can get custom shoes. They decide to get matching shoes with their anniversary date embroidered on the side of the shoe. Nobody else in the world has these shoes and they are unique to them. These shoes created a memory and every time they wear them, they are reminded of the love they share for each other. 


Customization especially pairs well with Gen Z consumers, as they value individuality. This generation is very much heading in the direction of personalization when it comes to fashion-related purchases, as it reflects the desire to be unique. Self-expression through clothing is not a new concept, but the personalization of clothes is an enhancement to this long-standing tradition in our society. Personalized clothing also has an air of exclusivity to it, as nobody else will have it. 


We are living in an age of experience, one where people want more than a traditional shopping trip. Individuals find it fascinating that they can design their own clothes that are personal to them and only them. It is an experience within itself to choose what the clothing will be crafted into, but the experience goes much further knowing that it is a one-of-a-kind creation. 

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.