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From function to fashion: The evolution of custom designs, featuring the AirPods Max

You may like it, or you may not, but you can’t ignore the undeniable presence of customized AirPods Max on your Instagram explore feed.

From flashy diamonds to funky anime characters, numerous designers and artists have transformed the functional tech accessory into a wearable piece of art — all the while keeping your headphones safe from scratches and dings.

The trend of custom AirPods Max (APM) designs is the latest example of a larger cultural shift towards individuality in a world packed with mass-produced goods.


Its trajectory can be traced back as early as the 1900s, when the Ford Model T was first introduced. While the Model T was mass-produced, customers were able to choose from a range of colors and options, such as body style, upholstery, and accessories, allowing for some degree of personalization. This was a departure from the earlier approach to manufacturing, which relied on producing standardized products with no variation. The introduction of customizable options helped to make the Model T more appealing to a wider range of customers, and it also set a precedent for customization in the automotive industry.


Or, fast forward to the 70s and 80s, where Michael Jackson and Elton John popularized the use of custom accessories to express their unique styles and individuality, paving the way for modern-day custom design trends. 


The white glove became synonymous with Jackson during his “Bad” era in the late eighties. Designed by costumer Bill Whitten, the Swarovski-clad glove was first worn during his “Billie Jean'' performance on the 1983 “Motown 25” television special and quickly became an iconic piece of Jackson’s wardrobe. 


Similarly, John’s flamboyant style has long been associated with his unique choices of eyewear. Over the years, he has been seen sporting a wide variety of sunglasses, ranging from glittery and bedazzled to more subdued, yet still distinctive, designs. One of his most well-known framesis a heart-shaped pair that he wore during the 1970s, designed by Robert La Roche and made of gold wire with blue lenses. John’s eyeglasses have become a key part of his persona — he once said that he often chooses his glasses based on his mood. 


Exclusive, tailor-made designs are no longer a privilege owned by the stars: with rise of the creator economy, where individuals monetize their creativity through platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, more individual artists and designers have leveraged the platforms to showcase their works, leading to a greater demand for unique, one-of-a-kind products that reflect the creator’s personality and style. 


Before APM took social media by storm, artist Dan “Mache” Gamache has customized sneakers for celebrities like LeBron James and Drake, creating unique designs featuring everything from cartoon characters to famous album covers.


As with all kinds of creative endeavors, money is not always the driving force. In a world where most products are mass-produced and uniform, a desire for designs that are unique and tailor-made is certainly bound to set in. 


Jay Leno, a well-known car enthusiast and former host of The Tonight Show, is famous for his extensive car collection, which includes several customized cars. One of his most notable customizations is his 1951 Hudson Hornet, which he modified extensively to create a unique and eye-catching vehicle.


Leno purchased the Hudson Hornet in 1989 and spent several years restoring and customizing it. He removed the original engine and replaced it with a Chevrolet 350 V8 engine, which he fitted with a custom-built fuel injection system. He also added several other modifications, including a custom paint job, a lowered suspension, and new wheels and tires.


When it comes to customized high-end accessories, Daniel Brush, a contemporary American jewelry artist, is known for his unique and highly personalized jewelry designs. His customized jewelry pieces feature intricate, nature-inspired designs that are often made with precious metals and gemstones. 


One of Brush’s most notable customized jewelry pieces is the “Reflections” necklace, which features a series of highly polished gold discs that reflect the light in intricate patterns. Each disc is carefully crafted by hand, and required  hours of craftmenship to ensure that it is perfect. Another notable piece is the “Vine Cuff,” which is made from a single piece of gold wire that has been hand-shaped into a complex vine-like pattern.


And now, with the growing trend of customized APM designs, it’s clear that the demand for unique, personalized designs extends beyond just traditional fashion and collectible items. 


In case you’re on the lookout for nifty APM custom designs, we’ve scoured the internet and picked some notable ones for you. From elegant leather finishes to vibrant pop culture-inspired graphics, these designs surely showcase the wide range of creativity and individuality that can be expressed through personalization.