Threadless book

28 Dec 2010
  • posted by Veerle Pieters

If you are a regular visitor of my humble space here you properly know that I still love to have things physically in my hands. Books are still these magical things when done right. Another beauty landed on my desk not so long ago.

Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World’s Most Inspiring Online Design Community

Threadless book

This book combines the two things that are close to my heart, books and illustrations. The book celebrates the past decade of the company’s life. It all started ten years ago with two students posting a thread on a forum asking for people to submit t-shirt designs, the best of which would be printed and sold.

For the first two years, every penny from selling tees went into printing more tee designs

That point in time marked the beginning of Threadless, an online community where they sell Tees designed by the community. Like some other big successes out there they never intended to be a business, but a hobby that they shared with their designer friends.

Ten years later Threadless has over a million members that vote, design and buy their tees. Luckily for them they always had an international audience from the start as this helps the variety and quality of Threadless designs. You don't even have to buy a t-shirt, even browsing these designs for inspiration is a must.

Harvard business school devoted an entire class to studying Threadless. Talk about humbling.

Showcasing 300 t-shirt designs

The book is nicely designed by A-Side Studios from the UK. They created a chronological journey of the company’s history, showcasing 300 t-shirt designs. Alongside, you'll read founder Jake Nickell’s story as he recollects Threadless’ growth. There are interviews with the designers that were successful in getting their designs onto fabric. The book has 224 pages and you really see the design evolve as the book progresses. The first designs largely one or two color, almost always in the same spot on the chest. Later prints become bigger and more sophisticated, probably due to improved printing techniques. The book feels lovely in your hands too, with a sturdy cover which has a mat plastification finish and glossy spot varnish (on the yellow circle)! Even after you've finished reading it, I see myself going back to it now and then just to browse for inspiration. I liked it and learned much about their backstory as I had absolutely no idea how it all went before finishing this book. All we need now is t-shirt weather :)

Funkalicious by Christopher Golebiowski aka Fen, Sweden and Breaking Up Is Hard to Do by Leon Ryan aka d3d, Australia.

Hairwolves by Joe Van Wetering aka speedyjvw, USA and Clouds Within the Thunder by Joe Van Wetering aka speedyjvw, USA.

Showcase of Tees being worn, with on the next spread the basic idea behind the artwork, the name of the creator, the country he/she is from, the score and the amount of votes counted in people.

We've Got Some Work To Do Now by Travis Pitts aka travis76, USA and Springfield Still Life by Alvaro Arteaga Sabaini aka alvarejo, Chile.

Special Edition

There is a Special Edition too. This Special Edition comes in a nifty case that has a soft texture, and a burnout illustration on it. The book itself has a cloth-bound hardcover, and a bookmark ribbon. On top of that goodness, there's a satiny hardcover sketchbook, where you can sketch all your billions of tee ideas.

You can buy the book from Threadless at their site.