Is what was once the ultimate signifier of exclusivity now an indicator of extreme basicness? Have we finally fallen out of love with bespoke?
There once was a time that unless you were the owner of a family crest (and no, that one you got when you someone bought you an inch of Scotland and made you a Lady doesn’t count), existed in an age where a key tool in communication was a wax seal, or were under five and had a habit of coming home with someone else's P.E kit, that having your name on things really wasn’t a common occurrence.
Trends over the years have of course touched on it. Honourable mentions must go to the car windscreen stickers of the 1970’s letting everyone know that Darren and Tracey/Sue/Rita (it was quite the curse on the flighty gentlemen of the time) were the driver and passenger of that particular Ford Cortina. Then there was the early 90’s craze for couples portmanteau’ing themselves into a snazzy new name for their bungalow (shout out to my childhood home neighbours Trudy and Mark and the beautiful TruMar) and most recently the Sex and the City Carrie necklace that men everywhere thanked, for not having to remember the name of girls in bars throughout 2004, but never before the late 2010’s has the urge to whack our initials/names/faces/full medical history (the latter is surely only months away) on everything from phone cases to mooncups been so very prevalent.
In decades to come it is possible that scientists will be able to trace this phenomenon back to one cultural event of enormous importance- the Love Island water bottle. First surfacing in the 2017 series AKA the Chris and Kem year and borne out of practicality, although tbh any concern around germs from using the same drinking vessel seems superfluous when licking multiple parties tonsils is so heavily encouraged and participated in, the pink scrawled monikers seemed to herald some kind of personalisation frenzy in us all. But what is it about this particular time period that has made personalisation so attractive? Psychotherapist and owner of On Route Health, Helena Lewis, believes that in a world where technology now makes connections harder that personalising things helps us reclaim closeness: “Personalisation becomes a way to show our identity to the rest of the world around us. When we personalise something, we become personally connected with it, and then use it to connect ourselves with others. When we connect with something, it allows us to create a positive emotion towards that item, and allows us to feel good about who we are” she explains.
So far, so understandable but will the popularity of personalisation – we are after all living in a world where you can have initialled loo roll- write its own death warrant as we cross over from bespoke to basic? Hints of creeping into ‘hun’ territory, a brand of humorous naffness where one is always encouraged to ‘live,love and laugh’ (the alternative of ‘die,hate,cry’ making a slightly less appealing wall decal sticker) and a fondness of gin is a perfectly acceptable alternative to having an actual personality (if this is a mystery to you please check out the excellent @hunsnet) have already begun and this could be problematic for brands who use monogramming and initialising for luxury gifting.
India Doyle, Consumer behavioural analyst at Canvas8 thinks personalisation does still has some mileage for brands though: “Where many people can have anything they want, being able to create a custom product is a really simple and clear way of giving it a more meaningful and individual look, ensuring it stands out from the crowd – and on social media.” she says, explaining that it could even tap into the current mood for more ethical shopping as a way of making second hand more appealing, adding: ‘As the second hand industry grows and attitudes towards second hand as luxury change – for example with Harvey Nichols now selling second hand luxury accessories as part of their offer – customisation could also make a comeback within this space, offering people the chance to make something owned by somebody else their own.”
So all might not be lost for those of us who still like to serve our style with a little helping of personalisation, just remember that less is probably more. And if you have a name that could be confused for something else, imagine say Becky Vardy (hint she’s telling everyone exactly what’s going on with her intimate pH) then watch out. Here’s how BURO will be putting their mark on things this season.