Custom Couture: Making Your Clothes Your Own

The clothes you wear are commonly seen as a reflection of your personality or a representation of “your own style.” People generally buy and wear clothes that they think are cool or unique, but taking that aspect of individual expression even further is becoming somewhat of its own trend.

Story by Rylan Henderson

In the past few months, people have been taking markers to $1,500 Jordans, paint to luxury handbags and needle and thread to all sorts of clothes and accessories. Some may wonder if this sort of personalization is just a passing fad or the next big thing in personal style.

The notion of customized fashion is nothing new. People involved in certain subcultures have been sewing patches onto denim and putting pins in leather for decades. However, the recent trend of hyper-individuality appears to be taking hold in the mainstream and is something to take note of.

No longer are one-of-one custom leather jackets exclusive to grungy punk scenes or biker bars. Instead, they are manufactured by luxury labels like Gucci, and worn by rappers, rock stars and supermodels. 

For example, Rapper French Montana notably wore a one-off hand painted leather jacket from GucciGhost, a prominent graffiti artist who collaborated with fashion house Gucci. After their wedding in May 2014, trend-setters Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West wore custom-painted leather jackets.

Photos courtesy of Upscale Hype and Fashion Gone Rogue

The idea of intentionally writing on rare Nike or Jordan sneakers would have likely given sneakerheads a heart attack a few months ago, but when Off-White creative director Virgil Abloh famously inscribed the nicknames of his celebrity friends on the first pairs of the his collab with Air Jordan 1, this changed.

Hypebeasts and sneakerheads are now spending thousands of dollars, or at least giving up thousands of dollars in potential resale profits, on shoes to take a permanent marker to them. This is all for the sake of rocking Jordans that are truly their own. Bella Hadid wore her own custom pair of Off-White x Nike Air Jordan 1 sneakers from Virgil Abloh.

Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar

Some people go even further, opting to make their own clothes instead of paying someone else. The DIY movement is gaining popularity among young people for its practicality and frugality, with the added bonus of full customization. Full-on garment construction is no easy feat, but altering, painting, embroidering or otherwise changing old clothes and shoes is something anyone can pick up with a little bit of practice.

If you’re looking to really individualize your style and you’ve got some free time to practice and hone your skills, you can take on all kinds of projects right at home. A sewing machine is a helpful tool for the dedicated customizer, but many fun projects can be completed with just a hand-needle and thread. Painting canvas sneakers is another easy way to personalize and make sure nobody else has kicks like yours.

Photos courtesy of Nouvelles Dumond and A Beautiful Mess

If you think having something personal or exclusive is important, it looks like trends could be turning in your favor. Whether you are willing to shell out some extra money for a special handmade garment or want to get involved yourself and make something at home, there are plenty of ways to have a look that is one of a kind, just like you.