Choose Your Own Tween Fashion Adventure

While it’s easy enough to commission a bespoke suit or customize a pair of Nikes, the process of creating a made-to-order fashion item is still largely hands-off. Despite these traditional constraints, the tween market now has LA-based Fashionology to help channel a little inner Galliano.

Founded by Elizabeth Wiatt and Jamie Tisch, the concept takes the idea of customized fashion to a new, highly interactive level. Visitors to the Beverly Hills flagship or the newly launched website first place their orders on a computerized menu, where they choose their style (Peace, Malibu, Pop, Rock, or ‘Juku), type of garment (from tees and hoodies to skirts and sweats) and embellishment (charms, graphics, bling, pins and chains). Boutique visitors then assemble their looks with the help of a “Fashionologist,” while online shoppers are sent a kit filled with all the elements to create their piece at home. Birthday parties, events hosted by Disney Channel celebrities and collaborations with guest designers such as Amber Valletta have all helped to increase the brand’s profile among both its tween fan base and their parents.

The concept owes much to the idea of user-generated content, especially online, where site users can collaborate with their virtual friends on designs. Given that this phenomenon is just as explosive among adults as it is among teens, it’s perhaps surprising that no such interactive atelier has been developed for us grown-ups. “I haven’t come across any other businesses that are doing what we’re doing,” says Wiatt. “I think the idea of mass customization and personalization is out there, but not in the full experiential way that we’ve put together.”

But that’s not to say there isn’t a market for it. Wiatt has observed plenty of parents designing their own tote bags and tees, and says that a spinoff catering for adults wouldn’t be totally out of the question in the future. But for now, she’s sticking with the tweens. “This economy is tricky, and our focus now is on analyzing the smartest and thoughtful ways to grow,” she says. “Our core purpose has always been to empower girls around the world to make creative choices and have fun with fashion.”

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—Erin Magner