A s a kid, it's practically a rite of passage to draw all over your sneakers. And for some of us, that temptation to adorn our shoes with hearts, rainbows or the names of our love interests and favorite bands is still high. Fortunately, several shoe retailers now offer customization options. So we can color our kicks without the fear of smeared markers, shoddy drawings and various other Sharpie-induced regrets.
Unless you've been residing in a galaxy far, far away, you need no introduction to this canvas-clad sneaker. Since 1917, the shoe's rubber sole has squeaked its way across basketball courts, high school hallways and concert stages. But now you can customize your own pair of Chucks for all the world (or maybe just your circle of friends, enemies or co-workers) to gawk at.
Elect to have Converse jump-start a look, and the brand will present you with an existing sneaker that you can tweak to your liking. Or take the reins and choose from about 35 all-white shoes to fully customize, all the way down to the color and pattern of the shoe's stitch, tongue and inner lining. You can further personalize your Chucks by adding text to them. For example: "I'm sneaky" or "Sole Sister." But if you want to truly stand out, check out Converse's new line of customizable glow-in-the-dark kicks. Vanilla Ice would be oh-so-jealous.
If you're on the prowl for actual training shoes, head over to NIKEiD. No, you won't be able to create those self-lacing high-tops Marty McFly sported in "Back to the Future." But in the words of Nike: Just do it!
First, choose which style of shoe you want. Options range from tennis and running to soccer and football. Then, similar to Converse, Nike will offer you the choice of working with an existing design or starting with a blank slate. From there, you can start toying with all sorts of colors and parts. It's similar to creating your very own Frankensneaker (except this one won't come alive and strangle people). While you're on the site, make sure to check out the innovative Air Jordan 2012 that came out in February. With this game-changing shoe, you can customize everything from the sole (translucent or solid) to the material (leather, nubuck or anodized). Bonus: You can fit up to three characters on the Air Jordan's tongue. And we suggest SC (short for Shot Caller) or BSH (short for Ball So Hard).
At some point, New Balance went from being my Grandpa's shoe du jour to being the go-to footwear for hipsters. Although I personally don't find the shoes attractive, they are uber-comfy. And if you aspire to be like Steve Jobs, you can rock them with jeans to achieve that billionaire-software-programmer look.
New Balance gives you just two styles to choose from. But the simplicity stops there. A rainbow of shades, including neon yellow, purple and green, are available for the sneaker's base color. Then it's time to pimp out those training kicks with lots of fun shades. You can even personalize the back of the heel with a message embroidered in the thread color of your choice.
Bonus: New Balance is great about fast shipping and waives shipping costs on orders of more than $125.
Fact: Adidas makes a good shoe. And I'm not just saying that because I used to obsess over Sporty Spice. My observation stems from the fact that my pair of Samba tennies has lasted me six years and allowed me to send more than one pumpkin soaring over my high school neighbor's house. But that's beside the point.
With mi adidas, you can design your own basketball, soccer, tennis, training or Superstar originals. In the spirit of Run-DMC, I customized a Superstar pair. The process was pretty detailed, and I got to choose colors for the eyelets, stitching and a lace jewel in the country flag of my choice. If you'd like, you can even put a college mascot or NBA logo on the shoe. The only bummer is that you can't make each stripe a different color, and thus can't design your own Team Zissou shoes.
Since 1966, skaters, surfers and punk rockers have been stomping around in Vans. Along with Converse, Vans are among a rare breed of sneakers that actually look better -- and give you street cred -- once they've been worn in, drawn on and dirtied.
Vans keeps its customization service simple yet sleek -- just like the design of its shoes. You get to choose from four styles, including the much-loved Slip-Ons (shout-out to the checkered pair that Spicoli rocks in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") and Old Skools. From there, decide whether you want to work with a white, black or patterned shoe. There's a wide range of contemporary colors to play with, and you can mix and match them to your heart's desire. If you're feeling brave, choose a different color or pattern for each part of the shoe.