Build Your Own Shoe

Online design-your-own sneaker sites have been around, but the difficulty visualizing just what the hell you're building has ensured that only the most freakish shoe nerds actually complete the process. Good news for the well-adjusted: Puma's just taken their quirky Mongolian BBQ sneaker DIY offline, and set it up in their Soho store.

Puma's set-up retains the site's CentrAsian-omelet-station style, but eliminates everything that sucked about the online version (impossible-to-maneuver virtual tongs, impossible-to-listen-to Mongolian music), leaving you with an easy-to-operate, real-world assembly station. The process: you book an appointment with a "specialist" (basically an employee highly trained in pinning on a "Specialist" nametag). You then piece together your shoe's 20 constituent parts, choosing among materials (e.g., perforated leather, suede, foam mesh), patterns (camo, striped black/silver, etc), and colors (Dark Cheddar, GT Red, tons more). Swipe each selection over a supermarket-style scanner, and you'll see real-time renderings of your Frankenkicks updated on a monitor.

There's also a display case of completed models -- great for a quick hit of inspiration, or outright shoe plagiarism. Once you're done, expect delivery in 5-6 weeks -- around the same time it'd take you to go to the website and fashion what'd come out looking like rainbow puke cross-trainers.