I’ll start by saying that I’ve never owned a custom-made garment.
I’ve always struggled to find things that fit, but in most cases, I abided by the mindset of “find something that fits well enough, and make it work”. For me, that generally means rolling sleeves and pant legs and calling it a day.
As a petite woman who does not fit under the umbrella of “one size fits most” (to give you an idea, trying on interview suits after graduating college made me look like a little boy trying on his dad’s business suits) custom-made sounds like a luxury.
And in many ways, it is. It’s generally more expensive and takes time for the finished product, especially compared to what most consumers are used to – mass-produced items made as quickly as possible.
Standards of quality, sustainable production, and timeless design are often cast aside in favor of convenience and a cheaper price tag. However, the tenets of slow fashion emphasize the importance of precision and quality, and of items that are made to last.
Shifting one’s mindset of clothing as an investment is one of the many changes that come from embracing slow fashion as a lifestyle choice.
Visiting the Shop
I decided to see for myself what the experience of getting a custom-made garment is like.
I went to Sene in Los Angeles, a sustainable clothing brand that makes every item to order. Sene is unique in the fact that they price below most custom brands, and offer a far quicker turn-around time (almost ¼ of the time of most customized apparel).
I was shown their custom collection – a series of ten unisex, minimalistic basics made from scratch which can be customized right down to the fabric.
I fell in love with their shirt dress, a classic button-down shirt turned into a dress. That’s a look I’ve always wanted to pull off, but always struggled with, since long shirts usually come with long arms.
The first step was trying on the sample garment from the custom collection. This was an olive green, light fiber material that hit me below the knee.
I spoke with one of Sene’s associates about the fit, explaining my preferences. They took measurements on the garment, and let me know that I could have it made out of any of the fabrics available in their store.
So I walked around, felt each of the fabrics, and decided on a white, lightweight Japanese fabric blend. They let me know they’d be in contact as soon as my dress was made.
It was really fun to weigh my options in choosing a fabric to my preference – and something I didn’t even realize was an option!
Returning For the Second Fitting
After a few weeks, I came back for my second fitting. The dress had been made out of the desired white material, and was shorter than the original sample. It was measured again at the sleeves, shoulders, waist, and desired length.
I’m not a midi-dress kind of gal, so I explained to them how I’d like this to be a mini-dress that is more of a mod, 1960’s vibe.
The associates were very helpful, and informed me that it would be no problem; Sene has an in-house tailor that offers alterations on any orders, and I was told my dress would be ready in about a week.
When I was alerted that my dress was finally ready, I was so excited. I came in, tried it on one last time, and it was perfect! It hit me mid-thigh (which is nearly impossible for someone who is just over five feet tall), and offered a loose, comfortable fit similar to dresses from the early sixties.
This experience put into effect all of those important elements of slow fashion that I mentioned earlier.
While I might not be able to have all of my items custom-made, it was awesome to see how buying clothes can feel like such a personal experience.
I was able to see first-hand the benefit of taking the time, and having something that felt like it was made for me. Because, well… it was.
Have you ever had an experience with getting a garment custom-made? Let us know below!