Bespoke is one of those words that sounds like the very thing it defines: it’s unique, desirable, and a little mysterious. It rolls off the tongue sounding nice enough, but often you’re not sure if you’re using it correctly. (If I hold the pickles but add bacon, am I noshing a bespoke burger?)
It’s fitting, then, that bespoke items–custom pieces ranging from jewelry to furniture to kitchen utensils–often come with an air of longing standoffishness. You may look at a custom coffee table at a friend’s dinner party and think, “What a lovely piece. But I could never pull something like that off, could I?”
Guys have been doing this with suits for years, pulling close-enough threads off department store racks and wearing them like mannequins, cuffs scraping their knuckles as they hide their faces in shame. But like the trend toward custom, tailored, affordable suits, bespoke items of all stripes are becoming more mainstream, thanks in large part to companies like Cambridge’s own CustomMade.
If you’re not familiar, it’s time you got an education.
The website, which has roots tracing back to 1996 and has raised some serious capital this year, stands in its current iteration as the brainchild of founders Seth Rosen and Mike Salguero, who’s aim, according to a recent release, is a dedication ” to simplifying and streamlining the process consumers use to acquire custom items.”
To that end, the site today launched its “Custom Concierge” service. When you see something you like, out shopping, in a magazine, at a friend’s dinner party, all you have to do is snap a photo and email it along with your budget and specs to one of two email addresses. The CustomMade team will then scour their database of 4,500 makers to find the artisan best suited to tackle your project, guaranteeing multiple price quotes within 24 hours.
And the best part? There’s no obligation to buy. The thinking, logic would dictate, is that you’ll be so happy with the projected outcome, you’ll be inclined to see it through. Rosen sums it up well:
To kick-off the New Year we want to institute a groundbreaking way to approach shopping – that disrupts the big-box store mentality. If you don’t see it on the shelf, it doesn’t mean you can’t have it. With custom, the spectrum of items available is limitless and with “Custom Concierge” it’s affordable, accessible and convenient. Even better – you can get that coffee table, chandelier, pendant or pair of cowboy boots made in America by an artisan who works with you to turn your vision into a reality.
I’m all set on custom cowboy boots for now, but a quick scan of the projects currently in progress and I’m pretty convinced this is something everyone should try at least once. There are custom wedding rings and beer tap handles, cocktail tables and bunk beds, and those are just the projects in the works. There are approaching 50,000 completed projects on the site, too.
Judging from some of the finished products, the craftsmen here are truly top-notch, and the feature I like most is how involved they seem to be throughout the building process, posting comments and questions for the project submitter each step of the way. The only surprise you’re likely to be in store for is just how accessible custom items can be.
Bespoke is no longer a word relegated to the wealthy. Unless you want those cowboy boots with diamonds.