New Site Frilly Makes Customizable Made-To-Order Fashion With Just A Few Clicks
Jeni Ni had her lightbulb moment while perusing the racks. “When I go shopping, there were many times that I would pick something off the rack and I would look at it, thinking it was so cute, but then I would turn it around and hate this zipper or embroidery, and wondered what if you just took that away?” she says. “If you had the option to customize that detail or to add something that you wanted, then you could create own your design. Who doesn’t want that?” That’s why she co-founded Frilly, a new made-to-order women’s clothing site that lets shoppers customize each garment. “We wanted to give that personal experience back to the customer and give them a hand in their own designs. I am not a designer, so if I try to design something, it would not look the way that I envision it, but to have a seasoned team of designers already there thinking out everything ahead, then you have all the options. If you don’t like a low hemline you can raise it, or if you don’t like a certain flare of pant you can have it tapered instead. Those little details can change something and then once you find your fit you can order it in multiple different ways and just change a little something.”
Frilly is actually the first fashion online platform that delivers true customization. If a dress catches your eye, you can choose the color, the hem length, the neckline—think Peter Pan collar, turtleneck, or V— the sleeve style, and fabric. Depending on the style, you can add details like a scalloped hem or a belt, creating a design that no one else owns. Their proprietary 3D rendering software, which took three years to ace, shows customers each option as they build their garment. “The customizations are shown on models, so you can see where everything hits,” says Ni, who has a background in fashion and marketing and serves as Frilly’s Chief Marketing Officer. “You want to know if a crop top is going to hit at your waist or higher.”
Essentially a virtual atelier, Frilly aims to bring made-to-measure luxury to the masses, making it accessible, with prices ranging from $58 to $2,000. And that’s not its only do-good aim. The company also values sustainability. Their cut-to-order model cuts down on waste, and if fabric is left over from a collection, they transfer it to different garments for the next line. All of the pieces are chemical-free, and in- house wear and cleaning tests are on done on a one-garment basis.
An in-house designed team with an impressive pedigree—the creative director comes from Marc Jacobs and the senior designer hails from Calvin Klein—creates all of the options on the site. There are four in-house brands, each with a unique aesthetic. “They make all the design decisions and have to really think about how each variable will pair with each other so there’s never a customization that comes out looking bad,” explains Ni says. “They have to think ahead so that no matter who is on the site, even if they know nothing about fashion, they can’t ever customize anything that won’t be flattering. They sketch out each detail.”
But don’t think that craftsmanship is sacrificed for tech savviness. Frilly’s tech designer is from Monique Lhuillier, so all of the pieces are made with couture construction, while the highest quality fabrics are sourced from mills in Italy, Japan, and France. “You’re getting something really beautifully made by someone who knows what they’re doing and also really loves what they’re doing,” Ni says. “After you place your order, everything is made by one tailor from start to finish. There’s no line production; it’s not mass produced. We’re taking the Old World atelier experience and bringing it to you in a digital way. When you would pick your fabric and work with the tailor to choose your neckline and price, you can just do it all online now and then you get this beautifully handcrafted end result, which I think is exciting.”