Call it a symptom of The Long Tail. Call it a symptom of web 2.0. I am a sucker for unique and custom things. And it's easier and easier to make things that are all the more "ours." Like a photo book. Or shoes. Or a t-shirt.
A decade or so ago (maybe more maybe less) I consciously stopped wearing shirts with logos on them. No GAP, Nike, Adidas or whatnot. I've had a few exceptions over the years, but we were coming out of a time where it was popular to wear a sweatshirt that had Abercrombie and Fitch scrawled across it. A friend recently told me when he started seeing Hollister shirts that he thought, "Wow, everyone's into this cool band." And then he realized that they were a silly mall store.
It's partly about not wanting to be a walking advertisement. My first reaction was to buy solid colored and bold shirts without slogans of any kind. But after several years of this, I wanted to express more. I was annoyed by the ironic thrift store shirts - and then even MORE annoyed by the retail chains creating their own versions of "vintage shirts." I'm sorry, but it just doesn't count when you buy your "1981 track team" t-shirt from Old Navy.
So, I was a fairly early adopter for Threadless. Mostly because it was the first time I'd heard of this concept. Now there are many, many similar sites that have popped up, building upon the idea of crowdsourcing. There's a similar site for the skateboarding community. Another for shoes. And now, my dear friend points me over to Spoonflower.
Spoonflower.com was recently featured in the New York Times. It's a perfect idea, really. You can buy someone else's design, or upload your own. That's the future of it all, really. A blend between designs by other aritsts and your own inspirations. And on FABRIC nonetheless. It's so basic and can be applied to so many ideas! They're working on coming up with a fabric durable enough to be used as upholstery. I love the idea of making your own comforters, curtains (both window and shower), pillows, etc. I don't sew (although it's something I often think about) - but I know enough people who do. The possibilities are endless! I love it.
Customization of space is a way to really, truly reflect who you are, what you value, what you love, and how you want to live. It's become a theme in my own life and I hope it becomes a theme in your own.