Dec 062011

Figure 1. Pia Myrvold’s hypermix dress

With the debut of the new Burberry Bespoke site, it seems the international brand Burberry is taking a queue from fashion designer Pia Myrvold. One of our resources for the semester, Techno Fashion by Bradley Quinn, discusses the designer and the challenges she faces as the fashion Press finds difficulty accepting the admittedly original clothing. In an environment where magazines are losing sales, Myrvold’s collection, which can be interactively designed by the consumer online, is challenging traditional ideas around “art, architecture, philosophy and music.” (p. 78)

Myrvold, a multi-media artist, creates what she called “blank-page” dresses displayed in all white material that may be customized online by her clients, in full 3D view. Each dress is sectioned off in an artistic manner and a selection of prints remains on screen to be drag-and-dropped to each section. Orders are then sent to the crafters to piece the garments together for final delivery. Her motivation seems to be the conceptual shift that comes with the challenge of a DIY piece.

She hopes to make the distance between designer and consumer a more blurry one, but in turn, “invokes questions of authorship.” (p. 81) The process involved in creating such a piece relieves the designer of a sort of responsibility for the finished product, evoking a most ultimate sense of individuality.

Figure 2. Burberry Bespoke’s Trench coat

Burberry Bespoke offers a similar, yet substantially more refined, experience. Clients are welcomed with a blank canvas of trench coat and inspiring music. Clients are allowed to select from a list of coats and then prompted to define practically every possible part of the whole. From the material, print and color of the collar, the buttons used, the belt and interior lining – each piece can be customized based on the client’s demands. Their motivation stems from the luxury consumers willing to pay for personalized and individual garments produced by this effort. These services allow high-end fashion houses to offer something very similar to traditional couture to a broader audience in a much more accessible way. This self-expression allows consumers to feel as if they’ve had a hand in the process, increasing both the inherent sentimental value of the piece and ultimately brand loyalty.

While Myrvold places a focus on individuality and expressing one’s taste, she limits the client simply by the number of options available, Burberry Bespoke takes a different approach. Burberry Bespoke offers quite a few more options but interestingly limits the options available based on the client’s choices. Options are removed as the user steps through the selection process and at times are denied their choices and told to select a different style. Additionally, they offer a fashion advisor clients may call upon to question their choices. I would imagine Burberry protecting both their customers from making poor fashion decisions in addition to their brand. Does this remove the question of authorship if the brand purposefully limits the choices a client may make? Either way, this seems to be a very innovative solution to what the music and fashion industries have been trying to fight with the advent of the internet. Burberry has harnessed what many in the fashion industry fear to embrace.

SIDE NOTE! Burberry also has a really interesting piece, Art of the Trench, that includes a customizable amalgamation of street images of people in trench coats to, I assume provide inspiration and establish their strong and diverse brand.

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