It has happened to all of us. You fall in love with a dress, but you wish it was cut just a little differently, or you find a jacket that is the perfect fit, but would like it so much more in another color. Well, frilly has the answer to this problem. The e-commerce shop (think of it as more of a virtual atelier) allows customers to scroll through different styles, customizing the silhouette.
Sound too good to be true? Co-founders Shang Ding and Jeni Ni say they still hear that all the time, three years after founding the company. “To create a digital space where you can customize every part of your garment from fabric, color, neckline, length (and more) to specific trims and fine details, then see it all happening in real time on your screen, it really shakes people’s minds when we describe it. But, we are making believers out of everyone,” laughs Ni. Once a customer perfects her piece ($50-$707), one artisan makes the garment and handles the order from start-to-finish, and it takes about two to three weeks for the finished product to arrive by mail.
Pret-a-Reporter caught up with Ni at frilly’s newly opened showroom on Melrose Place in Los Angeles, where shoppers can browse pieces on the rack and customize with the help of consultants on site.
Why did you want to start this business?
I wanted to create a space where shoppers could come get beautifully constructed garments, to their specifications, without the hassle of having to go to a tailor or seamstress. Coming from my background as a buyer, I would see garments that would almost make the cut but then miss the mark because of a detail that wouldn’t work for my customers. I experienced the same thing when shopping for myself; a style would stand out to me but an aspect or two would keep me from wanting to invest in the piece. As we enter a new age of technology, I knew I wanted it to be a convenient and digital experience without sacrificing the quality of the garments and designs.
How do you go about choosing the basic shapes and patterns? Do you look at more classic references or what is trending on the red carpet?
Our team of designers has years of experience under their belts from top design houses. Our creative director worked under Marc Jacobs for many years, our senior designer began his career at Calvin Klein and the head of our technical design team hails from Versace, Saint Laurent and Monique Lhuillier. The combination of their skills and experiences impress me on a daily basis. Their teams take into consideration classic bodies that women love, as well as what is they see as innovative and on trend when creating each of our baseline styles. The great thing about frilly is that you’re able to take a very standard style of dress and add or decrease “all the frills” to make it as trendy or classic to fit your personal style.
Do you have a favorite style that is currently available or will be available soon?
I’m personally obsessed with the Corby skirt. I customized mine in calf-length for a transitional work-to-night look. I love this in our remake of an original ‘60s print, the Edie print, and pair it with the Kate bodysuit in cream or black, sleeveless, with a ballet neckline.
Who is a dream celebrity client for frilly?
Olivia Palermo! I’ve been a fan of her personal style for years. Her charity work with The Maasai Project is also something that truly resonates back to what frilly, as a company, stands for and believes in. Something we strive to change, by leading by example at frilly, are the traditional patriarchal roles that are standard in business. In our HQ and at our factory, we believe in female empowerment and ensuring that several of our leaders are female.
Where do you hope to see the brand 10 years from now?
We would like to make our proprietary software available to other fashion companies, to continue to evolve our technology and expand our categories across the board. One of our main goals is to help the industry become more sustainable all while providing a more personalized experience for our customers. As a fashion-tech company, we are always developing new ideas and technology every few weeks. The future is wide open for us.
frilly, 8428 Melrose Place (in the alley), Los Angeles.