‘Tis the season to buy bespoke

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Annie Deakin explains why customised gifts are defying the financial downturn. It’s little luxuries in hard times that keep us sane.

The global crisis is doing its utmost to deplete Christmas cheer but it’s failing miserably. With the big day just four weeks away, financial constraint is proving no reason to buy boring as customised gifts are this season’s bestsellers.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco .

Fashion trends are a simpleton’s barometer of the country’s mood. During this economic downturn, shopping habits are becoming more considered as individualised designs are rocketing in popularity. The home industry is awash with personalized designs from photo-embellished cushions to bespoke map platters featuring countries of your choice.

Searching on Google for "photo mugs" throws up hundreds of pages, mostly which tout cheap and nasty products. Such a sensitive operation as splashing photos on products must be done with the utmost care. Subtle and tasteful is the artists Taylor and Wood’s interactive wallpaper called Frames; it can be painted directly onto or "filled" with family photos. Similarly chic is Sir Bernard Ashley’s bespoke fabric firm Elanbach. Punters design fabric or wallpaper using a photograph or pencil drawing and then play with colourways on the net. Prince Charles has already ordered six different patterns for his new farmhouse.

Ever since Anya Hindmarch launched her photo-customised tote bag in 2001, digital photography has invaded anything and everything. Alas, my hints that year for Hindmarch’s bag went unnoticed but seven years on, certain photo-emblazoned products still crown my wish list.

It seems contradictory to hanker after a more specialised service when talk is of less disposable income. But this renaissance in all things bespoke in the home and fashion industry is, in part, due to the new affordability of customization. Ironically, we are trading up in this downturn.

The frivolous spending of yesterday on passing trends seems wrong and ecologically unsound in this market. Instead, customers are finding a style they like and investing in a bespoke product. Be it engraving dates into your chopping board or commissioning a portrait, buyers spend time considering their design. A predicted bestseller this Christmas is Make Your Own Opoly, a custom-made version of the popular board game Monopoly where players customize the board, cards, money and box. The lengthy process behind bespoke gifts mean they are rarely a rash purchase.

Our appetite for the unique has grown beyond the realms of the imagination. Same same is boring. Deciding that I didn’t want to smell like everyone else, I commissioned "couture perfume" last year. In the same vein, I’m tempted by couture wallpaper which nobody else can buy. Photo printed wallpaper is available through mydeco.com, as are roller blinds that feature favourite holiday snaps. 55 Max can incorporate nostalgic letters, passport snaps and photos in a bespoke montage on canvas, diasec and leather bags.

Call me vulgar, but I embrace the photo-customised trend. As a wedding present, I was given a voucher for personalised placemats from Scarlett Willow. Selecting the pictures put me in a conundrum as photo products - of any realm - don’t lend themselves to understated style. My dinner guests eat off sepia images of my favourite landscapes, of friends’ silhouettes, of a lion chase on my honeymoon… Personal but not clichéd is the aim.

There is a time and a place for self-publicity. Nobody wants to be confronted with copious images of smug Boden-style pics. And, as for Snappy snap’s photo bed linen? Not on your nelly. It’s a monster faux pas to give photo products feature unflattering pictures of the recipient - my brother-in-law gave me a particularly hideous photo keyring of myself four years ago. It’s the thought that counts, apparently. At the mydeco.com launch last month, employees received photo mouse mats featuring colleagues dancing on tables. Even on a Monday morning, there’s no escaping drunken antics.

The real difference between ready-to-buy and bespoke is that anything "one-of-a-kind" comes with a great status - top of the pecking order, if you like. This year, Moët & Chandon are leading the way with bottles of champagne hand-customised with a name, monogram or date in Swarovski crystals.

Instead of feeling panicked by the state of the City, we should be indulging in retail therapy. I’ll happily not question New York psychologist, Dr Jane Greer, who insists "shopping can contribute to your psychological health in times of stress." Moët’s lovely bubbly would be fun but more affordable are the personalised crayons that my four-year-old nephew will rip open this Christmas.

Custom-made has extended well beyond the super-rich allowing everyone a slice of the action. Credit crunch? Buying bespoke no longer breaks the bank.

Annie Deakin is acting editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible