New App Lets You Custom-Design & Buy Clothes


Interactive creator Mary Huang is working on getting funding for a fashion collection that, if successful, could revolutionize the way clothes are designed and manufactured. Huang’s creation is Continuum, one of the most unusual lines we’ve ever heard of — everything in it will be created by a web application, “computational couture,” which shoppers can use to design customized little black dresses.

On Continuum’s web site, a user creates onscreen a picture of a dress that she wants, and then the program turns the picture into a 3-D model that the user can view and tweak. From there, the app creates a pattern to make the drawing into a physical piece of clothing — tailored to the user’s measurements, of course.

According to Huang’s Kickstarter page, a “laser cutter or plotter cuts the pattern out of fabric, which is then sewn [to make] the dress.”  We assume the actual seamstress/tailor on hand at Continuum would have to be a human, but up until that point, the whole operation is in the hands of the shopper and a computer.

Continuum intends to craft the dresses for their clientele, thereby giving them a couture experience, but handier customers can also download their own patterns for free and do the sewing themselves.  The whole system jives perfectly with Huang’s basic premise for Continuum:

This project sought to mediate between the avant-garde and ready-to-wear, between individual users and a designer’s vision. Could we use technology to democratize haute couture? Could we let people design their own dress, and still maintain a cohesive, recognizable design?

We think the answer to that last question is yes. More cynical readers may already be wondering how the non-artistic among us are supposed to draw a feasible sketch of a dress, but Huang’s program accounts for that — it automatically turns users’ drawings into myriad series of triangles, right as they’re drawing them.  (The triangles are also useful in that they translate more easily into a 3D model than mere lines).

We tried it out, and based on our test scribbling, the triangulation method let us use our mouse to create something that, well, looked like a dress we could wear.

What Huang and her partner, Jenna Fizel, still have left to do is finish Continuum’s software and set up production for making and delivering the clothes.  They’re looking to have full funding by the beginning of June. We’ll be tracking them closely to see the results.