The concept of customization is not new. People’s natural desire to be unique goes back thousands of years with possessions being altered for a variety of reasons that range from religious or military affiliations to social status to just wanting to stand out amongst the crowd. Alterations to clothing, jewelry, the home have all been documented as far back as the Egyptian times when burial headdresses were the ultimate form of personalization and respect. Fast forward to the 19th and 20th centuries where the golden age brought on fine tailored clothing with personal accents and monogramed steamer trunks, which served both form and function. In the other direction were soldiers and sailors who were also looking for ways of standing out amongst their peers, making adjustments to their government issued uniforms as well as their bodies with the birth of mass scale tattooing. And later, the introduction of street and motorcycle gang culture, which spawned an entire sub culture driven by customization and individuality. Although aesthetically different, all of these examples were fundamentally similar in their customized self expression.
Today, customization is once again seeing a global resurgence. Walking through any number of festivals, it’s clear by all the “Customization” stations that the trend is at its fever pitch and people want to be different, they want to be unique and they want to make things their own. From mass market retail to small shops scattered throughout cities around the world, people are seeking out ways beyond the DIY alternations and looking for new ways of making their mark. On the high end, retailers such as Louis Vuitton and Goyard are once again monogramming luggage and accessories in mass volume. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, companies such as Lot, Stock and Barrel (a company I’m a partner in, full disclosure) are offering custom options that make a garment completely personal and one of a kind.
Located in Los Angeles, LS&B is the perfect example of destination retail. With a store in downtown Los Angeles and another location in West Hollywood, the offering is a thoughtful curation of vintage classics, third party goods, unique accessories, along with a full-service tailor – think Levi’s type 1 truckers, paired with Billykirk and rare Japanese ceramics. Although LS&B boasts an impressive inventory, the ability to customize everything in-house is what helps the two L.A. based retail locations stand out amongst the continually changing retail landscape.
Vintage clothing is a tricky business. Rarely are there two of the same product, fits often vary and are more full, and pricing is almost always inconsistent. However, the beauty of a vintage garment is what makes it appealing. The story, the history, the wear, distress and character each piece offers is what makes just about anything vintage interesting. Getting clothing tailored isn’t a new concept or uncommon, especially when it comes to vintage product. Bringing this service in house though, is uncommon and what makes LS&B different from some of the other stores with a similar offering. If an in-house tailor isn’t enough, there is also on-site chain stitch embroidery, adding depth to the retail and customization experience.
In addition to the ability to fully tailor any garment and make beautiful vintage pieces fit to perfection, LS&B also offers one-of-a-kind chain stitch embroidery, utilizing several traditional chain stitch machines from the 1940’s and 50’s. Paring these types of services together is something that has been attempted in other retail settings, but not fully realized, which is what elevates the overall service offering at LS&B. Being able to offer on-site chain stitch embroidery gives the customer the total flexibility to not only buy a unique garment, but also play a role into the design of that garment. Giving customers the option and freedom of getting nearly anything they’d like embroidered elevates not only the LS&B brand, but also how people view vintage clothing.
Whether the attraction to customization is people’s nostalgic love for all things past or a simple solution to standing out amongst the norm, it’s all welcomed self expression. Customization offerings help make people interesting. And as much as big box retailers would love to raise their flag in every city and make the world look the same, the customer is pushing back, and forcing companies to create new ways of making products special, personal and customizable.
Lot, Stock and Barrel is located at 801 1/2 Traction Avenue and 8363 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA.