Real people: Rip it up and start again

Forget off-the-peg designs, customising your own clothes is back in fashion. Albert Hill grabs his sewing kit

Just when fashion seemed to be hurtling forward to the future, using hi-tech fabrics and even higher-tech techniques, there's been a cry from the back for a return to the crafts. Alexander McQueen has cited this season's inspiration the William Morris-led Arts and Crafts Movement, the 19th-century brethren who lusted after all things mediaeval.

While no one's suggesting we should go out and swathe ourselves in sackcloth and horsehair, McQueen's comments that "people now yearn for individual, hand-made pieces" reflects a move towards fashion DIY. Cutting, doodling, patchwork, dyeing, embroidering and ripping are all making a comeback. Of course, not everyone has to do it for themselves. Although Kate Moss proved her street credentials by recently wearing a self-slashed shirt, Tom Ford at Gucci is selling his moneyed minions ready-ripped, frayed and feathered jeans, and Paul Smith and Daryl K both showed "deconstructed" and "distressed" denim for their spring/summer collections. Even nightclubs are at it - super-hip London club 333 recently held a "Custom Culture" weekend.

Naturally, it goes against the customising ethic to buy the look pre- packaged. "It's a contradiction in itself," says Fraser Moss of London label You Must Create, "but I suppose if you are rich, lazy and unimaginative you will love it." "It's just big fashion companies jumping on the bandwagon," says JJ, of label Noki, who's been customising for years and sells his creations - mostly cut and torn T-shirts - at hip boutique The Pineal Eye. JJ uses second-hand branded clothes "to confuse and camouflage" the power of the logo. So that an old Nike Air Jordan T-shirt is reworked into a religious-referenced anagram, Ark-Ordained, and a little critique of brand loyalty is born.

Of course, there's nothing inherently new about picking at your clothes. Patches on arms, frantically Biro-ed jeans and school bags disguised under a thousand stickers have been the norm since the Seventies. But now, with fashion long since an off-the-peg mass-market phenomenon, the resurgence of customisation has more than a whiff of independence and rebellion about it. "Ten years ago, you had to shop and create a look for yourself," says Colin White, who customises trainers. "Now you can go somewhere like Urban Outfitters and spend pounds 200 and leave the shop completely ready- styled."

Colin White works on a very small-scale, as each pair of trainers takes about eight hours to customise, and he only takes commissions from Browns Focus, an exclusive London store. Trainers have always been a way of asserting individuality, but now that middle-aged housewives are catching on to urban footwear, the old-school shoes have come back in - and the felt tips or paint brush to "improve" them have come out. Nike, for one, has recognised this shift. Aware that their perceived image as a corporate giant has negatively impacted on its sales, it is now developing a new, low-key sports range.

"I think there's been a shift towards individuality as a reaction against lazy dressing," Fraser Moss observes, "a reaction against a play-safe and sheeplike attitude towards clothes." Clearly, judging by the name of his label, You Must Create, it's a philosophy he endorses.

It's a trend well exemplified by Paris design duo, Bless, who are becoming increasingly infamous for blurring the boundaries between buyer and maker. Earlier examples of their wares include a bag that, with a little helping hand, becomes a pair of trousers, while their most recent footwear offering is a large square of material attached to two Charles Jourdan and two New Balance shoe soles. The piece asks the purchaser to wield their own scissors and cut and stitch the shoes for themselves.

Jeremy Scott, fashion's enfant terrible, played a similar game when he burst onto the scene brandishing three-armed T-shirts. Martin Margiela, considered to be one of fashion's strongest driving forces, has also made experiments into the placing of arm, leg and neckholes. Fashion, it seems, is upping the ante, and asking questions where it once merely answered them.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas