Shopping online has become significantly more luxurious in the last several years, and it’s no longer just about high-end clothing websites selling astronomically priced pieces. From cars to sneakers, customization and consumer-driven design have become the main components in defining what luxury means now.
There’s technically nothing new about customization in the luxury goods market. Before the advent of fast fashion and the explosion of the contemporary clothing market, bespoke pieces created between a designer and client were the epitome of luxury, and the service is seeing a renaissance online.
Tinker Tailor, a website that launched in May, is at the forefront of high-end customized clothing, allowing shoppers to tweak hemlines, colors and sleeve lengths on exclusive items from well-known luxury lines and designers such as Rodarte, Giambattista Valli, Luisa Beccaria and Alberta Ferretti.
The website was co-founded by Aslaug Magnusdottir, an Icelandic fashion entrepreneur and former chief executive officer of Moda Operandi, the website that lets customers purchase items fresh from designer runways through online trunk shows.
“Over the last few years, interacting with the luxury fashion consumer, we were hearing more demand for customizable items,” Magnusdottir says. “They love the runway item, but only if it was a little different — a longer skirt or in a different color.” She was also hearing from designers about a growing demand for more personalized products.
There are about 80 designers working with Tinker Tailor, though they are not all featured on the site at the same time. Three or four designers are introduced each week, and their offerings may be available for a limited time only.
Every designer piece is exclusive to the site, and the production time varies by brand. Designers set the parameters for how much customization is possible with each item, and Magnusdottir says her team selects silhouettes that they feel will resonate most with the customer.
For shoppers looking for an even more hands-on experience, the site offers a service that lets customers design their own clothing under the Tinker Tailor label. “It’s more like actually going to a tailor and having something tailor-made for you,” says Magnusdottir. Like traditional custom clothing created by a tailor, these pieces take about six weeks to reach the customer.
This type of website is the antithesis of fast fashion. Quick turnaround is not a top priority when it comes to creating a personalized piece. This is especially true if Tinker Tailor delves into what Magnusdottir says could be a future category for the site — bridal.
“Dresses have definitely been doing best, and there is a focus on doing statement pieces for evening,” she says. Some of the pieces that have been on the site from designers such as Marchesa and Alberta Ferretti could work as bridal, she says.
The website offers some shoes and accessories, too.
Tinker Tailor is one of an expanding number of websites that offer a sartorial experience steeped in luxury and personalization. Among them:
The site that celebrity fashion stylist Mary Alice Haney launched in fall 2013 allows shoppers to customize its glamorous gowns, cocktail dresses and jumpsuits. Many of the silhouettes offered by the Haney label are ’70s-inspired, and each piece is named for a celebrity or social figure. Haney dresses have been spotted recently on Reese Witherspoon, Molly Sims and Carrie Underwood, and Jane Fonda wore one of her pantsuits at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Dresses start near $2,000 and can reach upwards of $5,000 for heavily embellished pieces. Items take six weeks from order date for manufacturing and delivery.
Project Shoe offers a high-end DIY experience in which shoppers can decorate and customize footwear ranging from treacherous platform heels to a preppy oxford, using spikes, glitter, plaid prints or reptile patterns. The site launched in June with prices ranging from $175-$250. It takes two to four weeks for shoes to be completed and delivered.
Gemvara offers a no-fuss way to create your own fine jewelry through a wide, but not overwhelming, selection of pieces that can be customized from metal to stone to personal engraving. To make choosing precious stones less daunting, the site provides a gem library on that includes everything from amethysts to tourmaline, providing the shopper with knowledge about what qualities to look for when picking a stone. Prices range widely depending on what kind and size of stone and what kind of metal is chosen. A 5-mm solitaire diamond set in a 14-karat white gold band, for instance, costs about $2,000 while a larger-sized emerald set in a platinum band comes in at about $24,000. All of Gemvara’s jewelry is made in the U.S., and orders take 10 to 14 days to complete and ship.
There is technically no custom design involved with Trunk Club, but the site has streamlined the way men shop online with personalized “trunks” of clothing hand-selected for them by a personal stylist. The site works with more than 50 high-end men’s clothing brands. Based on a shopper’s taste and style, a selection of clothing is shipped free of charge to his doorstep. He has 10 days to try on the items and decide what to keep. Trunk Club is not a subscription service; trunks are created and shipped upon ordering. Prices are comparable to shopping anywhere for the same brands (which include Theory, Billy Reid and Gant) and personal styling services are free.