Would You Design Your Own Clothes?

Would you design your own clothes, if you had the chance? I was surprised to recently discover how easy and accessible it is to design my own clothes, and wanted to trial this to see just how it works, and how this could be the future for sustainable fashion, making the most of innovative technologies and makers networks!

Despite not being a fashion designer, or fashion student of any kind, I had a whirl at designing this pair of trousers as a sort of trial to see what designing your own clothes is like, and how the concept could be far more sustainable than mass produced clothing! Read on to find out exactly how the process works, as well as a range of businesses offering ‘design your own clothes’ services too…

How To Design Your Own Clothes

Collage outlining steps on How To Design Your Own Clothes

To trial designing my own clothes, I reached out to EDIS, an innovative fashion business inviting wearers to create their own garments. The process starts online, and connects creative customers with talented designers using digital tools that result in gorgeous, one-of-a-kind garments.

Here’s the six steps it takes to design your own clothes with EDIS:

  1. Design your item
  2. Pay (I was gifted my service)
  3. Measure up
  4. Match with a designer
  5. Try a prototype for size
  6. Feedback
  7. Receive the final creation

For my first foray into DIY clothing, I decided to design a pair of long, paper-bag style trousers, as I always have trouble finding trousers that fit my frame. Ana, from EDIS, confirmed this would be a great option, and matched me with one of the fashion designers on their roster, Joana Jordão, to create my vision.

The process started with me sharing some outfit inspiration – chiefly, pics from Brittany Bathgate and Chloe Miles – and then my measurements. However, instead of whipping out my traditional tape measure, I instead got to use EDIS’ partner app, Size Me Up, which only required photos to take my measurements!

Once the vision and technical steps had been sorted, we continued our conversation on WhatsApp group between Ana, Joana, and myself. Together, we communicated preferences around materials, style, and fit, and Joana got started on making a prototype for me.

At the same time, Ana arranged the fabric samples. EDIS prefers to use deadstock fabrics, so my selection was limited to what was available, but also so much more sustainable than choosing something new off the roll. I chose three grey fabrics to look at, and had samples sent over, so I could feel them and also check the weight. I went for the darkest, heaviest material of the lot.

My prototype arrived by post, and I jumped into them to check the size and fit. I sent over images and my recommendations – a little more room in the seat, a little tighter around the waist – and Joana got to work in making the final piece.

And here we are! The trousers arrived through the post, straight to my door, and were straight on me as soon as I got the chance! For the first time ever, I have trousers that really do fit like a glove – what do you think?

5 Benefits of Designing Your Own Clothes

1. Better Fit

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of designing your own clothes… Obviously, first off, is the fit. Can you tell how well these trousers fit? As someone with petite legs (28″ inseam) and a bigger “seat” than the norm, I usually struggle to find trousers that sit well. These are my new favourite pair, with a high waist, and long drape that fits perfectly with my black boots.

Well-fitted clothes are important. They keep us comfortable, and while I don’t have statistics on this, I *believe* they also keep us wearing our clothes for longer. I can certainly say I wear clothes that fit me well far more often. They make me feel confident; no wardrobe malfunctions here!

2. Better Quality

The next benefit is better quality clothing. The quality of clothing that is made for you is almost always going to be higher than that of clothes that are mass produced. And this goes further than simply selecting good quality textiles when the piece is being made – it’s also about the stitching, the lining, the finishing.

For one-off pieces, there’s no need to cut corners, whereas high street designs often include cutting corners as standard, to ensure the highest profit margins possible. I recommend watching Justine Leconte’s video, How To Recognize Poor vs. Good Quality Clothes, if you’re interested in learning more about this!

3. Better Design

In addition to having creative control, you also don’t have to sacrifice on style when it comes to designing your own garments. Obviously, the closer the communication you have with the designer, the truer this is, which is why I liked being able to provide images and message Joana directly!

In comparison, mass-produced clothing may have details that you personally don’t like, and these often age the garment too. Think about shoulder-pads in the 80s: my mum has stacks of blazers in her wardrobe that she won’t wear now because they’re dated! These elements can be designed out of tailor-made clothes, and even if included now, can be altered later down the line…

4. Better Repair-ability

…Talking about alterations, let’s also consider repairing our clothes. With tailor-made clothes, you can easily have the item repaired – often by the very same place who made your garment – as well as alterations to matches changes in your body and style. For mass-produced clothing, there’s less incentive to do that – it may be more money than it’s worth, and often it’s easier to simply buy a new style, and get rid of the older piece. Sadly that mentality arises from selling false-economy cheap clothing, and it’s causing harm to people in supply chains and our environment, while producers continue to reap the profits.

5. Better Sustainability

Finally, let’s talk about sustainability. Did you know, all clothes are made by hand? Anything ‘hand-made’ sounds fancy, but almost all fashion garments require a form of hands-on work. This is one of the reasons why so many people – an estimated 75 million – are employed in fashion, because it’s seriously labour intensive. But for the most part, these workers aren’t paid a fair wage, and work in fashion because they have to, not because they choose to.

Designing our own clothes could be an opportunity to change that. It provides highly-skilled work, creativity, and higher price points, affording better pay to everyone involved. It also reduces the speed of production and demand for mass-production too. And it naturally also extends the life of our clothes, with better fabrics, better quality, better repair-ability, and more value stitched into each garment.

However, the challenges are huge too: how can this model be applied past boutique businesses? EDIS has definitely shown it has potential, connecting customers and designers around the world through technology. And how can we change everyone’s approach to fashion, reverting back to smaller, higher quality, custom-made wardrobes? I don’t have an answer for that, but I hope this post does help showcase the benefits!

7 Design Your Own Clothes Brands To Discover

Couchman Bespoke: London-based tailor, Claire Couchman, provides bespoke clothing, shirts to jackets, suits to coats.

The Deck: High-end tailoring exclusively for women, dressing everyone from Arizona Muse to Gillian Anderson.

EDIS: Co-creation clothes design service chiefly conducted online, working across almost all garments.

Lottie Woods: Independent designer and creative consultant open to bespoke work (and check out her tech packs!)

The Seam: Network of London-based seamstresses offering design services, made-to-measure, alterations and more.

Solely Original: Design your own shoes and heels brand, tailoring the design, fit, and comfort to suit you.

Son Of A Tailor: Design your own t-shirts, polo shirts, and sweatshirts, offering custom sizing and a remake guarantee.

Disclaimer: I was gifted my design service by EDIS in order to write this review. All views and opinions expressed remain my own. Photography by Lauren Shipley.

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2 Comments

  1. Sofía Medina
    June 7, 2021 / 9:09 pm

    I really enjoy your vlog, I find it very interesting and I really want to thank you for your work. I’m doing a project about sustainable fabrics and I was wondering if you could give me some information about linen, can it be recycled? thank you very much!

    • besma
      Author
      June 7, 2021 / 9:37 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words Sofia! In answer to your question: I had the pleasure of working with the EU’s I Love Linen campaign last year, and while it focused on new linen products, I learned that linen actually gets softer and nicer to wear or sleep in over time. In terms of recycling, I haven’t seen any linen recycling programmes, but that may be because it’s a difficult fibre to process, or it’s just not on my radar yet!

      B x

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