A Contemporary Take on Custom

by Harry Sheff

While doing research for MR’s June issue on the made-to-measure market, I had the opportunity to talk to Tina Ling at DDC Lab about their special projects division, called DDC SPX. SPX is so exclusive, one actually has to be invited to be a client. The select few have included performers David Bowie, Lauren Hill and Lenny Kravitz, the Formula One racing girls… why, even Spiderman’s alter ego Peter Parker is a fan.

Emmy-award winning producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the man behind Amazing Race, CSI: Miami and Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End (plus a yard-long list of other hits you can be overwhelmed by on imdb.com), is a regular. As Ling tells it, “He has ten homes, scattered around the world, and wants at least five of everything made to his specifications and sent to each home, so he never has to pack when he travels.”

Hill did an entire concert wardrobe with DDC SPX, moving from a beachside concept presentation to wearing the product on stage in just three weeks. One of the pieces was even included in one of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibitions.

“This is really for the premium-premium client,” Ling points out, “for the customer who requires personal attention. This customer has a clear sense of style and their needs. They are often so busy that it’s easier to have their clothes custom-made. It’s a more modern concept than couture. Form and function are key; for instance we’ll create a classic men’s blazer, but with ergonomic sleeves and special pockets for Blackberries, iPods, etc. It’s timeless and classic, with functionality. This customer wants things that are travel friendly, with a lot of stretch and ability to work in different climates.”

The fee for each season? Suffice it to say, “if you have to ask….” Starting in the in the tens of thousands of dollars, the fee includes a minimum of three visits from designers in New York or Los Angeles.

The design team will fly to meet their clients to present concepts and fabrics. They are then measured by the team’s tailor, and slopers for each piece are created. They are each saved in the client’s personal library, so that, for future reference, a favorite piece can be updated in any given fabric. The client pays for the development of each sample, just as a corporate client might pay for the development of a collection.

DDC USA, the company’s design studio, has done special projects for Reebok, Gap, and DuPont. After a successful partnership with New Balance brand PF Flyers, they are now partnering exclusively for retail and wholesale rollouts.