Wearing what you are



By Martha Groppo

Most people have heard the adage “you are what you wear,” but a new clothing line allows customers to literally wear what they are.

Identity Apparel uses DNA, fingerprints and lip marks of customers to create one-of-a-kind fashion.

“We’re the first in the world to try to capture the essence of an individual and do that through the clothing they wear,” said Dylan Ferguson, president of Identity Apparel.

Ferguson said he got the idea for Identity Apparel while at an art gallery where he saw a painting of someone’s DNA. Several months later, he and his partner Aram Melkoumov developed the idea for the company. Both co-founders were entrepreneurship majors and 2009 graduates of Ryerson University. Ferguson said his company began in May 2009, and is beginning to take off.

“It took us four to six months to nail this stuff,” he said.

The company has found students to be their most willing customers. As a recent graduate, Ferguson can understand why college-aged customers want to buy his unique clothing.

“Every single young person goes to school and tries to find himself,” Ferguson said.

He said Identity Apparel allows a college student to “show the basic building blocks of who you are.”

Technical-minded customers are especially interested in Identity Apparel. A lot of people involved in sciences at universities become customers, Ferguson said. He thinks engineers are attracted to the technology behind the clothing.

Identity Apparel offers three options to customers seeking a truly unique fashion statement. The first option allows customers to buy a garment representing a section of their DNA. Ferguson explained that using a Polymerase chain reaction method his company is able to “amplify a specific segment of DNA.”

The customer can supply their DNA sample by using a mouth swab from a collection kit sent by the company. The customer gets to choose the color of the DNA and which image he or she wants the DNA incorporated into.

The second option allows customers to turn their kiss into clothing. According to the company information packet, “Each individual’s lips are unique and hold the biological characteristic of that individual. Therefore, Identity Apparel wants customers to share their distinctive and inimitable lips with everyone.”

The collection kit for the Kiss Line comes with a bright red lipstick that customers apply before kissing a series of “lipstick imprint collection cards.” Once again, customers can choose from a variety of designs and colors to further personalize their garments.

The final option available to customers involves finger prints. The company information packet cites the individuality represented in each person’s fingerprint and states that “Identity Apparel noticed this uniqueness in each individual and created a way for customers to share this unique trait in an attractive and artistic fashion.”

If DNA, kiss imprints, or fingerprints don’t make the garments distinctive enough for customers, they can also include their signatures on the back of the garment free of charge.

At $90 to $100 per item, the clothes made by Identity Apparel might be a bit steep for the typical college student’s budget, but each line is partnered with a charity. According to the company Web site, 10 percent of proceeds for each line will go charities. The DNA Line is linked to Avert, the Kiss Line to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Fingerprint Line to Camp Trillium. The company also has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

“It takes a really neat idea to make it in fashion and be successful,”  Ferguson said.