Have It Your Way With DIY Fashion

It used to be that you needed a degree in fashion and some talent in order to become a designer. Not anymore.

The country that has perfected the art of bodies-by-design is entering the next phase of giving people exactly what they want: relatively affordable customized clothing, made in part by you, the buyer.

"Customization in fashion is a very big deal right now," said Dannielle Romano, fashion expert and editor of DailyCandy.com. "Customization is no longer the exclusive domain of the wealthy and well-connected ... It's a great entry into the fashion world and appeals to people's egos."

With a credit card and a computer, even the most uninspired individuals are able to play Karl Lagerfeld, thanks to companies like Nike (search) and Converse (search), which have developed online technology that allows consumers to pick the look, fit and feel of their products.

"People want to personalize everything from their cars to ringtones," said Nike representative Nate Tobecksen "This site (NikeiD.com) takes personalization to the next level. Besides, sneakers in general are used as a way for people to express themselves."

But customization goes all the way back to monogrammed towels and bathrobes. Why is it suddenly taking off now?

Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at market-information company NPD Group (search), says a desire for individuality has fueled DIY fashion's three-fold market expansion over the past year.

"All the department stores are basically carrying the same thing. The labels might be different and the price might be different, but it all looks the same. Those who are fashion forward and creative had to find new ways to have something unique," he said. "They don't mind spending a few extra dollars because they can tell a great story behind what they are wearing."

He also said customization is now easier and more affordable for companies and consumers alike.

"The technology has afforded companies the ability to do this. It used to be very expensive and that's why it had failed in the past -- if you had to wait a month to get your item, then there is no fun in it. And companies have finally realized that even if by doing this they lose money, it's worth it because of all the word-of-mouth marketing."

The process of playing designer is quite simple. To custom-make Nike sneakers, for example, you go to NikeiD.com, pick the exact style of shoe that you want and then chose everything from base- to swoosh color. You can even personalize your sneakers with initials or a word on the back, just to add a little extra somethin'-somethin'.

Click here to see the sneakers that this reporter designed.

"Both adults and kids are enjoying the technology," Tubecksen said. "People like being able to put their spin on things."

Nike's not the only shoe company putting a new twist on old kicks. Converse.com offers a similar technology, and Fivethreefootwear.com owner Seth Brau takes one-of-a-kind to the next level by hand-designing pre-picked Vans sneakers with fabric marker.

But what would a fashion trend be if it didn't cause a commotion in the denim industry?

As embellishments on jeans are all the rage this season, it's not surprising that companies like Elie Tahari (search) and Miss Sixty (search) are, on a limited basis, offering customers the denim by their design.

"Denim has reached its saturation point, so to break out from the denim conformity, customization of denim has become huge," said Romano.

Designer Elie Tahari is throwing a party at New York City's Bloomingdale's (search) on Saturday, inviting customers to work with a design team to adorn jeans with a velvet belt, "jean jewlery," lace trim on pockets or belt buckles. While only these four choices are offered, different colors and patterns are available.

Click here to see the Elie Tahari jeans that this reporter designed.

This event comes on the heels of a day-long Saks Fifth Avenue (search) event that also had customers choosing embellishments to rock their custom-made dungarees.

“Our Saks event was a huge hit. People just went wild for it. I think people like the idea of putting their own stamp on something. It’s all about choice and giving people choice,” an Elie Tahari representative told FOXNews.com.

Other fashion houses are also giving customers the chance to play creative force behind their clothes.

Earlier this month, Miss Sixty threw a party, also at Saks Fifth Avenue, that was stocked with plenty of options and a woman behind a sewing machine, and in August, the upscale Manhattan store Henri Bendel (search) hosted a Heathertte (search) party, where head designer Richie Rich (search) custom-made shirts for lucky shoppers.

For those who want to be even more involved in the design process, Fossil (search) sells DIY jean kits that allow you to bejewel, button and patch up any plain Jane pair of jeans. The DIY-determined can also dust off the BeDazzler (search), of former infomercial glory.

All of these ideas sound great to 26-year-old Rebecca Solomon, of Queens, N.Y.

“I like the fact you can be creative with what you wear. The belt that I am wearing right now is really a shirt,” she said.

Like so many consumers, Solomon has grown bored of the bland and welcomes the opportunity to be creatively involved without having to know how to stitch fabric.

“This [trend] enables people to express themselves without having to follow a sewing pattern or visiting the fabric store. I think this is something younger people really appreciate, because they are very style conscious.”

Aside from the sneaker and jean industries, customization has also made its mark on the dog carrier, diaper bag, umbrella and undergarments industries.

Posh-pooch.com's custom-made Italian leather dog carriers are a hit among celebs like Gabrielle Union and Hilary Duff. And CustomizedGirl.com gives people the chance to create their ideal pair of skivvies, T-shirts and more.

Still, playing designer might not be all that it seems. According to those who have tried it, there's a reason why the men and women in the fashion industry have earned their places there.

“I once designed a pair of Puma (search) sneakers and they came out horribly,” said Romano. “I thought they were going to be really cool, but when I got them, they looked like a kindergartner made them.”