Customisation is Key!
Are we what we wear? Do our clothes tell the truth about who we are. Or do they disguise our real nature. Will a peek in a wardrobe be a revelation, or cause confusion.
What we wear sends a message of our intention, our confidence – and our personality. Our clothes can be camouflage or canvas. Are you part of a ‘tribe’ or are you an outlier? Do you blend in or do you stand out?
The understanding of the power of the wardrobe arrives early. Just look at the clouds of frothy polyester princesses at any three-year-old’s birthday party, or the boys in their superhero garb or football kits. They want to fit in. They want to look like their friends.
But the act of allowing kids ownership of what they wear is an important part of letting them understand control and helping them to develop their independence. They say as much to you at any uniform-free school: it’s a way of letting kids express themselves. It’s interesting to see what children do with that freedom – some will signal membership of a tribe. Others, even in uniformed schools, will find a way assert difference – by the way they wear their tie or by how they customise a bag.
Those little artistic tweaks can say so much. Which is why customisation is becoming such a big thing. It’s like handing a child a can of spray paint and showing them a pristine wall. Or, in the case of Brad and Angelina, giving them an immaculate white Versace wedding dress and a set of sharpies. Make your mark! Show your own flair! You can wear your own artwork. They don’t have to choose from what is hanging in the aisles, they can pick a blank canvas – a tee shirt, or a dress, or a pure white shoe – and create their own logo, original design and colour scheme.
Imaginations are allowed run riot. It feels transgressional, which is why it is such a powerful act of creation and ownership.
PLAE knows this, which is why they launched their incredibly successful Art of Play shoes. ‘The Artist’ a limited edition black and white shoe which came with a set of marker pens – each pair destined to become an original masterpiece, depending on how it was coloured in. The idea was that this art shouldn’t simply be seen as something to be admired, but something to be worn. It’s about art as disruption.
And now every trainer manufacturer worth their salt is giving you the chance to customise your sneakers – from Converse to Nike, you can pick colours and embroider initials. PLAE, too, has long understood the importance of art and creation in a child’s development. That’s why they have the detachable and swappable tabs. Kids can mix them up to match or clash with what they are wearing. Whether they use them to make a statement, or blend in, this is the closest kids can come to making original pieces themselves.
It is also the most profound expression of individuality. It’s no wonder the kids love it so much. And, unlike the name tags you have to sew into those back to school pullovers, these acts of self-expression can be proudly displayed for everyone to see.