DIY Fashion Design (Fiasco?)

Source: NYTimes, May 2011

Do-it-yourself Web sites are making it easy for fashion buffs to design and order custom outfits: all you need is an Internet connection and a credit card.

After perusing Web sites like and, I decided to design a cropped skinny jean on because the site offered that jean style and appeared to have more features, like patches and zippers.

Hurdle No. 1: the site’s design. It’s cluttered and lacks 360-degree images and models, which are key to the success of sites like Zappos and Net-a-Porter.

Navigating was at times more exasperating than trying on jeans. This is a problem with many design-your-own clothing sites, but it’s glaring when customers are evaluating denim style, weight and wash. Discerning the difference between “posh” and “body hugger” denims was like trying to tell the Olsen twins apart.

Hurdle No. 2: taking measurements. This, of course, is critical. But the site needs clearer instructions. A colleague and I had to go over them several times, and as veteran online shoppers, we’re not unfamiliar with measuring tape. We spent hours scrutinizing the site and measuring my waist, thighs, hips, knees, inner and outer leg, and more. I’ve had less invasive doctor’s appointments.

Yet it’s crucial to be precise. There are no returns unless the measurements of the jeans you receive differ from those you submitted.

It may seem like a blast to make your own wardrobe on the Web, but it can also be a lot of work — and money. The results are not necessarily perfect. And if they aren’t, there’s no one to blame but yourself.  In other words, you reap what you don’t sew.

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