These customized product creation opportunities are expanding rapidly, with new players in the mix all the time.
Zazzle and Keds were among the first to come to my attention. [In fact, I own a pair of custom Keds that have one of my abstract paintings on the canvas. Ridiculously expensive, as I took the expedited shipping to ensure they'd be here in time for a presentation.]
Now MilkorSugar.com provides a directory of all things customizable, including reviews of the various sites, and a ratings grid that provides useful information e.g. can you upload an image on the site. I had no idea I could have had customized leather Adidas for about the same price as my canvas Keds -- no image upload, however.
"In 2008 we noticed a stream of ‘customize-your-own’, ‘build your own’ and ‘design your own’ sites coming to the market. So we built a database of online customization. Initially to serve our curiosity, that became this website. You could call it the the web‘s first Customization Portal." ~ Milk or Sugar founders
When we can get EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT for a little more money, and a little more time, we seem to be quite willing to pay up. This has been an important driver in the catalog business for years, a la LL Bean, J Crew, Lands End, etc. And these sites have expanded their own customization options for many items, such as backpacks.
On MilkorSugar I learned of some other quite interesting sites. One example: Colorware offers custom external parts for phones, computers, and other electronic stuff, so you can really make it your own. This development is an extension of the skins we've been seeing everywhere, and the jewelry that people add to their cell-phones.
We can expect to see a continued expansion of custom manufacturing, in part because the cost of custom manufacturing tools is also dropping. Things like 3D printers and laser cutters are in the price-range of the home aficionado, no more costly than laser printers and desktop publishing when they first arrived.
Personally, I love it. It's a good thing, and I'm happy to see someone like Milk or Sugar helping me find the goodies.
Thanks to Springwise for letting the world know about MilkorSugar. Crucial reading for trend-watchers.