Threadless T-Shirts: Quiet Innovators

Since first featuring Threadless, as one of my “quiet innovators”, they seem to have been less “quiet.” This probably has much more to do with a cognitive bias on my part than anything else, but it is obvious that people love them. And for good reason. They are awesome.

The concept is simple:

*translation, you design it, the treadless community votes on it, and if your design is liked, you get paid.

Matt at 37signals writes about their “Community…no, really.”

A lot of sites pay lip service to the notion of building a community. Threadless actually does it. And it’s not just having a blog or a forum (though the site has those too). Check out the site’s navigation where “Shop” and “Participate” are given equal treatment


It’s no accident. Threadless isn’t just a place to buy stuff. It’s a place where people do stuff too.

And I love the comments to Matt’s post. They give us great insights in the pathway to Treadless’s success.

Threadless sends out the only newsletter that stops me in my tracks during work. While every other newsletter gets a ‘junk’ click, I can’t wait to see what is new from them.

Threadless personif[ies] everything that’s great about the web.

Threadless is an example of an actual real community online.

Their transfer of work to users is a brilliant strategy in not only sharing design cost, but also in creating and maintaining a community. There is a give and take factor that underpins the entire organization.

And so we come to reciprocity again. It is a key factor to community-building (if not the key). If you can figure out how to do that, you create one pretty strong and hard to assail position.


One thought on “Threadless T-Shirts: Quiet Innovators

  1. threadless succseeded making the perfect web 2.0 website by letting the people choose the design, blog about it and discuss in the forum about the products, the designs and off topic.
    I personaly LOVE threadless ad therefore I got a blog about it 😛

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