Zazzle Steps Up: Fully Custom Keds

Good ol’ Make magazine’s blog tipped me off to a new development in design your own (DYO?).   Zazzle–they of the slap your design on nearly anything and sell it business model–have partnered with Keds to let you have free reign in designing a pair of sneakers.  Slip-ons, high-tops, low-tops… all ready to be splashed with your keen Photoshop skills.  Unlimited, images, unlimited text… sounds pretty great, right?

Yeah, it’s exciting and neat to think about but I’m not going to do it.  Why?

A: I don’t pay $65 for footwear I can’t hike in. (But that’s just my flinty Yankee cheapness)

B: While it’s cool looking, this isn’t that impressive.

The bar for ‘impressive’ is fairly low but the possibilities are very high.  3-D printers aren’t magic, people.  While it’s all well and good to let any old jerk upload Bill Nye’s face onto a pair of high tops and rock those at the mall, this new way of doing business doesn’t change very much.

Drop a kiosk for making these in every third Payless storefront, then I’ll perk my ears up.  Rope in a local site of production, then I’ll start buying.  Call me a pointlessly provincial, but rather than have teenagers sewing my sneakers in Dongguan, I’d rather have the couple that run the cobbler shop down the street sewing together my sneakers.  They could have the sides freshly printed off their fabric printer that’s hooked up to that shoe design kiosk at the Payless or to the website I’m looking at right now.  Pair them up with a stock sole or one that’s been stamped with a specialty printer/router combo to get that fancy edging or the lyrics to “Regulate” carved in it and we’re in business.

It’s the future, let’s start acting like it.  Everybody buddy up and let’s make things awesome.  That means you, Payless, Keds, Zazzle and Kim’s Shoe Repair.

photo from

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