Making your marque

Fashion has monogram mania, with a range of customised or bespoke services. This time it’s personal, writes Rebecca Gonsalves

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The art of carving important initials dates to ancient times but back then it was used to identify the emperor when a coin was introduced. Now it seems the world of fashion has come down with mono-mania as initials are peppered across everything from high-end to the high street.

Even standard soap brands are getting in on the act, as Dove is offering a personalisation service at its pop-up in Selfridges’ beauty hall, where one of its cream bars can be engraved with a name. Dove’s move is probably the most perplexing example – literally washing your name away through use would surely do strange things to one’s psyche. But what has led to the identity of the customer becoming as important as the logo or label inside?

Fashion and identity are becoming more closely linked – the proliferation of bags cannily named after It girls has no doubt played a large part in that – but if you’re not likely to have a bag named after you or buy bespoke, how do you express individuality? A full name on a shirt may be a bit too close to a name tag but an embroidery or stamp of your initials is a nice touch. Just ask the models at the Burberry Prorsum autumn/winter ’14 show – they were all draped in personalised blanket ponchos for the finale, a service that will be available to the rest of us come September.


Footwear is one of the biggest categories for personalisation, from the high-end, with Jimmy Choo rolling out a bespoke service where customers can choose heel height, material and sole monogram for five styles of shoe, to more high-street operations thanks to Nike’s iD service. Adidas has taken the process one step further with a project launching in August that will allow customers to print an Instagram image on to the fabric upper of the ZX Flux – forget wearing your heart on your sleeve, choose a selfie and you could wear your face on your shoes. Less hi-tech is the introduction of hot stamping by Ancient Greek Sandals, which has long used the technique to add detail to its designs. “It was a natural decision to let our customers personalise their pair using the same technique,” says Christina Martini, the co-founder and creative director of the brand. “Putting initials on a shirt or a bag, and now on shoes, makes the object more special.”

Another key market for the personal touch is jewellery, and while Links of London and Pandora bracelets have lost their charm, there is still something to be said for a meaningful trinket, such as the gilded zodiac signs which hung from necklaces at Valentino this season.

So what’s behind the increased appetite for identity? Perhaps its because we’re increasingly becoming brands ourselves – with Twitter and Instagram handles reinforcing ideas of who we are. Or maybe it’s that idea of attainable luxury and the democratisation of fashion – the belief that we all deserve something as special or unique as we are. It seems that fashion’s obsession with identity and individuality is a sign of the times.