The Customized Life

When it comes to the things you ride, wear, and create, don’t normalize. Customize.

When it comes to the things you ride, wear, and create, don’t normalize. Customize.

Photo Courtesy of Harley Davidson

We’re all free spirits at heart. Unfortunately, that spirit is trapped in the bag of meat that is you, and sometimes it needs something extra to set it apart. Here are 10 of our favorite customizable things that you can use to highlight the unique snowflake that we all know you are.


The category that fundamentally captures the spirit of customization, owning a bike doesn’t just proclaim your Ride Free attitude; your hog is an extension of yourself. Don’t believe us? Take a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, for the annual Harley meet-up and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of Harley Davidsons—but you’d be hard-pressed to find two that look alike. Keep in mind that Harley has only ever offered a dozen or so models throughout its history. From paint jobs to side-pipes to ape-hanging handlebars, if you’re rocking a stock Harley, you’re doing it wrong.


Who cares that there’s an endless array of sneaker variations you can buy in stores or order online? True sneakerheads know that picking something off the shelf might be cool if it’s limited and you camped out at Foot Locker to get it, but nothing competes with a pair of custom kicks. Nike and Adidas both got the message, and offer online customization systems (Nike ID and MiAdidas, respectively) that let you pick your kick and colorway and tag it with something personal—because even the most unique snowflakes need to wear sneakers.


ZZ Top knows what’s up. Girls do go crazy for a sharp dressed man, and it’s generally accepted that there’s no sharper way of dressing than a suit that’s tailor-made for you. It’s not just about size, either. A custom suit won’t just fit you perfectly; it’ll be made from your choice of material and might even have a little extra flourish to set it apart (we’re big fans of making it pop with piping and linings). Tacking on a couple of shirts and ties can make it appropriate whether you’re in the office or out and about in the city. Like Barney Stinson says, nothing suits you like a suit.


Most backpack and messenger bag-makers never got the memo that their products aren’t supposed to be disposable. Luckily, our friends at Chrome Industries seem to understand that a bag should last a lifetime, which is why they offer a lifetime warranty and customization of their super-rugged messenger bags with both color schemes and even salvaged material. So if your girlfriend finally puts her foot down and says she won’t be seen with you in your favorite jacket anymore, you can turn it over to Chrome and have them work it into a new satchel for you. Bag game: stepped up; jacket: kept; girlfriend: happy. Check and mate.


When it comes to jeans, we decided to go straight to the source and asked Levi’s where to send our first-born in exchange for a pair of tailor-made blues. First, they asked where we got a baby (Long story. Shut up.). And then they directed us to their Made To Order store in NYC, where they’ll sew up a killer pair of duds just for you, no matter how misshapen you are. Work with the masters to choose your design and pick your materials, and 6 to 8 weeks later, a pair of fresh-baked Levi’s arrive at your door. The possibilities here are nearly limitless, but expect some dirty looks (from us) if you go for the ultra-tight hipster jeans.


You could go around telling people that you’re classy as fuck, but it’s always better to show than tell. We’re calling this category “stationery” but, really, we’re referring to business cards, because, if it ain’t bone, you should just go home…where, presumably, you have an excellent collection of Phil Collins albums, axes, and plastic wrap that would make Patrick Bateman psychotically jealous. As the world becomes increasingly paperless, business cards are quickly becoming the last stronghold of personal representation that doesn’t require a social media account. So get yourself some off-white cardstock, emboss the hell out of that baby, and take pride in distributing it to people who will use it once and then auto-complete your email address for the rest of their lives.


We toyed with the idea of saying you can customize your phone with a case, your computer with a decal, or any variety of gizmos with stickers like you’re a little schoolgirl. But this is Maxim, and we’re not messing around with lame, temporary solutions. Our suggestion to personalize your favorite gadget? Lasers. Actually, we think that lasers are a solution to everything (North Korea, global warming, killing zombies, etc.), but this time, it’s true! Laser etching is the process of burning some cool custom designs into your favorite gadgets whether they’re made of plastic, metal, or pretty much anything else, and there are etchers in every major city across the nation that’ll perform this service. Just bring the design and your device, and they’ll burn your name (or whatever) into that sucker lickety split. Just don’t look directly into the laser unless you’re shooting for a matching custom eye patch.

Cable Television

Just kidding. Time Warner and Comcast will probably commit Hari Kari before they give their customers what they want, and what customers want is to customize their lineup and only pay for the channels they watch and not the other garbage. We used to marvel at having 500 stations to choose from but, in practice, most people agree they’d rather have 50 channels if it meant they could pay even 10% less on their cable bill. A La Carte Cable may end up just being a wonderful dream but, with Hulu and Netflix and other streaming options storming the Cable castle, there’s more options than ever to customize your content for a fraction of the cost of cable.


Photo: Ryan Klos / iStockPhoto | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Customization is all about celebrating your own personal style and there’s nothing more personal than customizing your person. Tattoos are some of the oldest forms of customizing known to humanity, proving that even our ancient ancestors knew the importance of individuality in a society. As the tech behind inking has gotten better and cleaner, we can safely pull the trigger on some of the most wicked sleeve designs the world has ever seen and feel good knowing we won’t have to pay for it with a nasty case of Hep C. That said, while we don’t wanna tell you how to live your life, we would recommend avoiding face tats. Only Mike Tyson can pull that off, and that’s largely because he was the heavyweight champ at 19-years-old. You weren’t the heavyweight champion of anything at 19, were you?

Your Children

We’ve seen baby booms, but it’s time to prepare yourself for the upcoming boom of genetically modified babies. Genetic researchers at MIT and other scientific institutions all over the world continue pushing the limits of the human genome, and it seems we’re all just a poorly argued moral debate away from picking the eye, hair, and skin color of the next generation of children. It may be a slippery slope, but you just know that some jackass hotel heiress is gonna be asking, “Can I get that in pink?” when she’s at her first sonogram. We, for one, welcome our future designer baby overlords. (Not really, but we’re just covering our asses before the inevitable.)

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