Threadless: Not Your Grandpa's T-Shirts

Any company that has sported the tagline "Nude No More" will grab one's attention.

Combine that with T-Shirt design names like "The League of Cliche Evil Super Villains," "Goldilocks and the Three Beers," and "Honk if You are About to Run Me Over" and there is no confusing it with The Gap. But, fear not the different and irreverent. Threadless isn't trying to be your average T-Shirt vendor.

At Threadless you are in charge. You might say, "Isn't the consumer always in charge?" Not really. A few designers design what they think you should wear. Then a few store buyers filter that down even more. We buy what's available without much input. At Threadless, you can create the designs and you can vote on the designs that ultimately "win" and become available for purchase. The community has an impact and that impact is pretty big.  There are over 100K designers designing and 3MM-4MM monthly visitors voting and buying across the US, UK, Australia, and Singapore. Over 150 countries in the mix on some level, and the list keeps growing.

But, what makes Threadless truly special is the way it supports its artists. The managing team including Tom Ryan, CEO, and Jake Nickell, a Founder, aren't looking to find business success on the backs of the creative minds. On the contrary, they are on the side of the artist, a rarity in creative industries where newcomers are notoriously forced to give their work product up for far less than what might be considered fair (ever heard of the starving artist?).

That's not how Threadless wants to operate. In the market for a smile-inducing T-Shirt with a conscience? As Tom puts it, "We want to provide more opportunities for the artists to win." Winning artists can reap $25K, $40K, or even $55K on the sales of their winning designs. That's a lot of $10-$20 T-Shirts being sold. Given they can submit as many designs as they desire, a good artist can become a happy cashflow positive artist. Collectively, artists make over $1MM annually in fees. Not bad.

The crowdsourcing model isn't just limited to one-off  T-Shirt designs. Seen any T-Shirt designs for movies lately? It could have come from Threadless. Tron: Legacy, Phineas & Ferb, a few Disney flicks. Their new Atrium product is a platform allowing companies or organizations to use the Threadless environment for their own campaigns. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's DNA Foundation, which raises awareness on sex slavery, uses it. And, T-Shirts are just the beginning...

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    Great designs. I have always loved wearing tees. They are the best clothing one can wear and feel comfortable. I remember when I bought my first vintage t-shirt. It was the happiest day of my life ah! memories.

  • In reply to Delena Rorrer:

    Can never have too many t-shirts!

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