~ 5 min read

Does Threadless rule or not?

Last night I perused a number of articles describing the success of my favourite t-shirt store threadless, the first of which – over at 37Signals reviews in a positive light and the second in a more negative one.Threadless is a t-shirt company with a difference, it’s a 24-7 competition allow you to become the designer. Designs are chosen by the team, and are able to be rated by the community that operates around the website.For anyone who knows me, they’ll know I love threadless tees – I believe I’m on my 4th one this week, and I have more in the post. I even got engaged in one of their t-shirts, although it was possibly the most highly innappropriate one to do it in.



visited them when as I was about in Chicago, though I think they probably thought I was a bit of an English loon. I find their designs original and amusing but it seems that those who kicked off the site are kicking back with some negative comments on what the sites community now represents. It shook me a bit that not everyone is as overly enthusiastic with them as I.

Chicago - Day 5 001

+’s:(from 37Signals)

They’re playful – I have to say that this is one of the aspects I find most appealing, just the sheer comedy value to be found in not only their shirt designs, but the website (including many videos of daily threadless life), their emails, their attitude to the popularity. It’s great, it makes people feel good.It’s driven by community – This is what makes any web app successful but it seems threadless have been at it from day one and done a really good job at integrating it into their site. 37Signals points out the fact that participation is equal (though is visually far larger on their design), to the main consumer reason for visiting the site. When I was about to head out to Chicago, I contacted threadless as a customer to query the length of time it was taking to get an order out to me, and cheekily asked if they had any recommendations for places to visit while I was out there. Brianne, their customer service lass, replied with a huge description of what there was to do in the area, along with her personal favourites – its that kind of dedication to their community which builds them loyal customers.-’s:Bad Canvas, Second Rate Knock Offs – I don’t think their t-shirts are bad quality! Blimey, they’re only $10 half the time! Seriously, the printing quality claims and ‘feel’ of the shirts used are all a bit unfounded I think and more likely the result of teens who don’t know how to execute proper household management. The second aspect there however is going to be tackled when they soon start using their own specially designed material. I read one example of a chap complaining of bad quality, who then went on to say he’d purchased a bunch more – surely they can’t be all that bad to warrant further purchases? As for second rate knock offs, I can’t say that I know the design community inside out, but I know I’ve never seen any of the designs anywhere else, and thats half the reason I love them.It’s myspace with t-shirts – Ah, yes, I feel your pain. Although I love what I can get out of threadless with a passion (i.e tees), I certainly despise myspace with a huge amount of disgust. I’ve previously blogged about the fact that myspace needs to sort out its web standards, I also have a certain distaste for the types of people who hang out in such virtual communities, with nothing better to do. If threadless is the t-shirt equivalent of myspace, they’ve got two aspects right (t-shirts, web standards), but then nothing can alter the types of people that hang out there, at least not this instant. I think these types are always going to be of a certain nature. I’m oblivious to these users, as I’m not actively contributing in this manner, I’m just the consumer, so what does that really matter to me? Of course it would be embarrasing to meet said teens in my university class wearing the same shirts, but I’m in the uk and I haven’t seen many people with threadless this side of the country. In fact, I’ve only ever seen them in Chicago (go figure!), and Singapore.Anyway, I still assert that I love threadless, despite other opinions and people will still be getting shirts as presents over christmas. I may however, try to attempt getting tees from other equally good shirt sites, for fear of wearing clothing resembling my students.For those of who appreciate them also, check out this image of how one of their employees, charlie will soon be working daily:

That’s just pure quality.