From the moment my mum had to painstakingly sew woven name tags into every item of school uniform and P.E. kit, I was hooked on the satisfying feeling of wearing (and misplacing… and finding again… ) something that was mine and mine only for a period of time. Woe upon my sister who sometimes had to wear the hand me downs, with my nametag unstitched. It only occurred to me how stupidly giddy I get when I see my name in embroidered form when I received an Opening Ceremony varsity jacket as a gift for contributing to their blog during LC:M and temporarily being a part of the OC crew. The jacket led me on a personalised fashion trail that won’t be news to most but got me thinking about the value of personalisation, inspired by this Marketing Magazine (I know, I live a wild wild life…) article about the trend of creating personalised product to entice customers in an age of individualism.
I wondered if I liked the fact that the jacket had my name on it, and was therefore a somewhat unique (despite the many Susie’s in the world) item. Or that I liked to broadcast my name to the world in the way that you would wear a name tag when you’re on a newbie in a big group or in fact, working in services where your name is given as a courtesy to the customer. Laura Craik of the Times saliently observed in her article about personalised fashion that wearing her own initials felt “a bit smug, a bit ‘Get me!’” Brands like Smythson and Anya Hindmarch have long been in the game of personalising diaries, wallets and phone cases, not just with initials and names but with meaningful messages and phrases, but they’re normally items that are for your eyes only most of the time. Your name or initials amplified by a garment or a highly visible bag though is a different kettle of fish. Does it take a certain type of person to gravitate towards personalisation or is it universally liked because it flatters one’s vanity to remind yourself (and your friends or colleagues) of who you are through a few stitches and letters. The Marketing Week talks of the feeling of having a perceived “big” brand recognise who you are, which is an individual being in a sea of millions. Another ad-talk theory suggests that personalisation appears to feel more special and involved with people and personalities because some element of customisation has managed to take place in a period of time when third party outsourcing is rife and trends and bestsellers are constantly refreshed and repeated. Thus far personalisation has mainly been concentrated in the high end luxury accessories sector or in the case of the Opening Ceremony jacket and the Kenzo Kalifornia bag, reserved for a lucky few (guilty as charged), but fortunately Whistles has stepped into initial-based personalisation with their hit varsity jacket and clutches, something they’re going to be carrying on this year with new styles, with a view to carry it over into menswear. Special commendation needs to also go to NikeID, probably one of the most democratic and pioneering customising mechanisms in fashion (it started in 1999 – say what?).
An even more exciting prospect is on the horizon though as much of the personalisation movement has been based around text, font styles and colour. Consumer-determined design working alongside the rise of 3-D printing technology could well be a new and natural step for those that have dabbled with initials and lettering.
Personalised varsity jacket from Opening Ceremony
Nike ID Liberty print Air Maxes which say Sus Bub at the back.
Christmas gift of personalised M&M’s from Farfetch.com
Valentino My Own Code initialled clutch.
Valentino will be launching options to choose metal cast lettering to add to shoe and bag straps of their Rock Stud collection.
Smythson initialled Blackberry cover.
Pyjama designer Prada‘s personalisation options include varsity letter bags, initials on eyewear and customisable platform brogues.
Pyjama designer Olivia Von Halle offers a variety of monogrammed pyjamas done in collaboration with London embroidery house Hand & Lock.
Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram, a customisation service launched in 2008
Whistles hit varsity jacket worn by Laura Craik for The Times
Whistles Harlow varsity jacket currently available to monogram in selected London stores.