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modular fashion

Why You Should Be Investing in Modular Fashion

It’s about utility, efficiency, and personalization.

By: Camille Freestone

When you think of modularity with respect to fashion, you envision some sort of utilitarian component on a garment. If you’re like us, your mind has already wandered to pants that feature zipped legs that convert to shorts—yes, the ones every boy in your second-grade class seemed to possess. That’s because modularity is typically relegated to menswear. At least, until now.

Georgia Dant, founder of modular fashion brand Marfa Stance, began her design career in the menswear departments at Burberry and Rag & Bone. In both places, her job was heavily focused on construction and on function. As a woman designing for men, she couldn’t help but notice the lack of utility in the design of women’s clothing. “No one was really offering this kind of adaptability and versatility for womenswear,” she says, referring to what she dubs a “lightbulb” moment. Whereas menswear is designed with the customer and their needs top of mind, womenswear is often more conceptual, with a greater onus placed on trends. Dant strived to bridge that gap by “offering women a menswear function with pieces that actually fit [women] and give them that really cool aesthetic without being too oversize, too masculine,” with modular outerwear.

 

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“No one was really offering this kind of adaptability and versatility for womenswear.”

 

A customer begins with her Reversible Quilt as the base layer, a lightweight jacket perfect for transitional weather. You can then purchase a Buildable Parka, which buttons over your quilt for added warmth. Removable hoods and collars attach to both pieces when wanted. If you purchase these four pieces, in total you have the potential to construct at least ten different combinations. Dant also recently expanded into knitwear, offering chunky sweaters with removable turtlenecks and sleeves—forever solving the issue of stuffing bulky sweater sleeves into slim coat sleeves.

 

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GIF: Courtesy of Marfa Stance... Read More

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In a similar vein, modular jewelry brand SENIA came out of a utilitarian trajectory. Founders and sisters Christina and Gina Senia were trained in engineering and finance respectively and found fault with fashion for succumbing to the vicious (and fickle) cycle of trends. Relying on their technical background, they created jewelry sets that could be customized by the wearer. For $250, SENIA’s Infinity Earring set comes with six pieces, crafted from sterling silver and gold, that can be made into over 55 combinations, effectively reducing the cost per pair to $4.50 each.

“The cost savings are less of a concern for our consumer, though. Most of our market is more excited by the versatility and customization these modular pieces afford, as well as the environmental impact and space savings,” explains Gina. The efficiency is unsurmountable—you pack one set for a trip, and you immediately have dozens of possibilities.

 

“Most of our market is more excited by the versatility and customization these modular pieces afford, as well as the environmental impact and space savings.”

 

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“Transformability is the remedy to address society’s inherent need for newness without the environmental and financial repercussions of fast fashion,” explains Christina. At Marfa Stance, not only can you customize your jacket according to the weather, but you can evolve it each season by swapping out the collar or nixing the hood. You can still achieve that same feeling of “newness” Christina alluded to without having to purchase an entirely new coat. And as trends cycle in and out, you can update your own piece to reflect the changes. It’s a trend-proof purchase.

The reduced amount of physical product streamlines the design and production process, as well. Dant may offer a new spin on a hero piece or offer a new buildable accessory, but the core collection remains the same. For SENIA, “Just a few SKUs can achieve the look of hundreds,” explains Christina.

 

GIF: Courtesy of SENIA... Read More

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Not only is modularity efficient, it puts creativity in the consumer’s hands. With all these mix-and-match capabilities, the final result can be highly personal, as the wearer literally selects the components herself. “The whole idea of designing modular clothing—that you can actually use and express your own identity—is something that really felt appealing to me,” says Dant.

The same goes for jewelry, as the Senia sisters cater to women (and men) of all ages and personalities. “We’ve seen grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and boyfriends all style the same set differently,” says Gina. “Fifty people could be in a room together wearing this set different ways, and they would be completely unrecognizable as the same earrings,” adds Christina.

 

“Fifty people could be in a room together wearing this set different ways, and they would be completely unrecognizable as the same earrings.”

 

Dant and the Senia sisters are not the only ones in the industry who have uncovered men’s functional little secret. Johanna Ortiz’s fall ’20 collection offered dresses and tops with convertible elements and removable sleeves. Maggie Marilyn offered a 3-in-1 jacket that can be worn either as a blazer, a cropped bolero, or a vest. Plain and simple, the modularity aspect offers you more from a garment.

“Our styles are building blocks, which enable the client to become the designer. Empowering the customer in this way creates a sense of pride in the piece because that person had a hand in creating it,” Christina enlightens us. The process is creative. It’s fun.

“When I was younger, I used to play with Legos, and it’s kind of like that,” Dant nostalgically hypothesizes. Add modularity to your wardrobe, and you’ve basically created your own fashion puzzle.

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