One morning when Ethan Lipsitz was walking around the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, wearing Nike tennis shoes and a vintage shirt, most likely his one with a big Benetton logo on it, he was struck by the sheer number of walking billboards that surrounded him. In fact, everyone looked the same, with logos splashed across their mass produced t-shirts. That’s when he knew something had to be done, and Apliiq was born.
As their website states, “Creativity strangled. Individualism rebuffed. Art overlooked. Commercialism eclipsed art.” Apliiq fights against that, allowing the consumer to take control of their clothing by becoming their own designers. Everything from hoodies to hats, there are over 88 different types of clothing and over 500 unique fabrics to choose from on their site. And, it’s a really cool digital experience, too.
Lipsitz explains, “This is very much a technology platform, and it’s an experience for people to go online and play with fabric. It’s about you finding something that speaks to you.”
The process is not only simple, but really fun. Once on their website, all you have to do is click “customize” to get started. Then, you choose your base, color, fabric and tell it where to place the patches. That’s it! A few clicks, and you’re creating a piece of clothing that is uniquely you. And that’s what Apliiq wants for you, to find something that expresses who you are.
“To me, what’s important is authenticity and being true to ourselves and finding ways to create and express our uniqueness. Every person has gifts within them and it’s very easy to get caught up in the homogeneity of life, whether it be routine or mass produced food or clothing or whatever,” said Lipsitz. “It’s important for us to start to look at what truly has meaning for us and appreciate those things and share them, and not just make it about wearing or consuming things for their convenience. Understand there can be more story and more meaning to things out there to identify with. Maybe it’s because you went to the farmer’s market and met the farmer who grew your corn or maybe it’s because you designed your hoodie.”
But, customized clothing is not the only thing that’s happening here. Apliiq is part of a larger movement as Lipsitz explains. “We exist in a really interesting time where technology and fashion are starting to really open up a lot of different avenues that are disrupting the industry. And one that is really great and a huge opportunity is for us to come back to American made in a really meaningful way,” said Lipsitz. “Yeah, you can get your custom Nike’s in a couple of weeks from China. But I really think there is something about having a technological experience tied to physical products that feel close to home and are made with love and made by hand. We’re really proud to be part of that movement. “
Located in downtown Los Angeles, all of the creations selected through their interactive online retail platform are custom made in their workshop with all U.S. orders shipped for free. What’s next for Apliiq? They’re constantly looking for new fabrics and ideas to keep the experience fresh. Right now, they’re excited about the complete reinvention of their hoodie as well as the fairly recent addition of hats. They’re looking at other products, too, and are working to build out more tools and offer artist collaborations.
Whatever product they release next, Apliiq is committed to helping young America step away from being a walking billboard and become a generation of freethinkers, wearing clothing that says something about them. It’s fashion autonomy, for those who don’t quite have the sewing skills to completely make clothes themselves.
What do you think? Would you design and order your own clothing through this LA-based startup?