Ever go shopping with an idea of what you’re looking for but can’t find it anywhere? Maybe you find the ideal top on one dress and bottom on another and wish you could magically fuse them together? Or perhaps you find the (nearly) perfect piece but wish it came in another fabric, colour or pattern? A girl can dream right? Well, find the right designer and your dream might just come true.

Canada is home to a number of extremely talented Independent Fashion Designers who, for lack of exposure in mainstream malls, have their talents hidden from most of us. Yet all you have to do is browse through local boutiques to find that many of them stock their pieces.

What’s that got to do with finding the perfect outfit? Everything! All you have to do is find a designer you love and see if they’ll work with you to create a custom piece. One that’s made exactly to your liking and that fits like a glove. You might also be surprised at how affordable it is. Especially when you consider the benefits.

Quite often, independent designers will work directly with clients on a custom or semi-custom basis. For example, Shoshanah Kuper of 3rd Floor Studio (a women’s clothing line designed and produced in Toronto), often works with customers on a semi-custom or mix-and-match basis. With Shoshanah, clients can either choose an existing dress that she already makes or a top from one and bottom from another. (Other details such as length can also be modified.) The client chooses a fabric that she has in stock or orders another one. The dress is then made to fit.

Although the cost of having a custom piece depends on a variety of factors, when working semi-custom or mix-and-match, costs can often be quite close to retail (unless there’s a rush or special fabrics need to be ordered).

Not only do you get to have a piece that’s custom made just for you (for practically the same price you’d pay in stores), you’re also supporting local talent and economy. Sounds like a win-win to me.

So what do you do if you’re interested in working with an independent designer but not sure where to start? Before you do anything, make sure you know which cuts, styles, colours and patterns are best suited to you and your shape. Not only will this knowledge save you time when searching for or deciding on the right piece(s), it’ll get you better results.

Next, visit boutiques in your area that stock local independent designers or search the web. If you find a designer whose style and aesthetic you like and whose price point is within your budget, reach out to them to see if they’d be willing to work with you on a custom or semi-custom basis.

If they are, be clear on all costs and conditions, such as timing, before you agree to work together. Have all your questions answered prior to starting so that the process runs as smoothly and as easily as possible. Then sit back and watch as your dream of owning the perfect piece slowly unfolds and becomes your reality.

See ladies, dreams really do come true.


(Photo courtesy of 3rd Floor Studio and taken by Ted Belton.)