Co.Design

An App for Customizing the Perfect Little Black Dress

L.A. designer Mary Huang is gearing up to launch a Kickstarter campaign that'll let women design a dress online, then get it manufactured and shipped.

Digital technology has revolutionized the way we consume products, introducing mass customization into everything from jewelry to iPad cases. Up next: The little black dress?

Absolutely, if L.A. designer Mary Huang has her way. Huang is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign, pending approval, for Continuum, a web service that lets you design a futuristic "D.dress" -- stylewise, think "Fembot meets John Galliano" -- according to your body type and preferences, then get it manufactured and shipped to your doorstep. (Without, of course, the nasty racial slurs.)

The app is based on Delaunay triangulation, which is a fancy way of saying that the dresses are designed (and cut and sewn) out of triangles. (Similar to the Darpa-powered hoodie we covered here.) Couple that with an ultra-simple UI, and even those of us who can barely sketch a stick figure can whip off a ballgown in a snap. I made this in less than a minute:

[My homage to ?90s-era Toni Braxton...]

Even if the aesthetic isn't your jam, Continuum is a promising example of how technology can personalize -- and democratize-- fashion. "With clothing, there has always been the problem of sizing," Huang tells us. 'It is not just measurements, but that women are taller or shorter, curvier or more boyish. In an ideal world, you would have your clothes made to fit you, instead of figuring out how you fit into clothes.' That, of course, has been the province of the rich more or less since, well, forever. But with 3-D printing, laser-cutting, and apps like Huang's, things are starting to change. As Huang tells it: "Now it is becoming easier to integrate [customization] into a scalable production system."

Mind you, the economics of Continuum aren't that democratic. The service is expected to cost $300 for a skirt; $750 for a cocktail-length dress; and $1,000 for a gown. That's less than what you'd pay for couture, but still way more expensive than a dress at, say, Zara or H&M -- which is to say, more than most women are willing to shell out for something they wear just a few measly times. Then again, you can't put a price on a little black dress that looks cool and doesn't bunch in all the wrong places (ahem H&M).

[Images courtesy of Mary Huang; hat tip to CreativeApplications.net]

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