Nude No More
Threadless is an online clothing store popular with the 18-25 demographic, as well as more technologically savvy people of other ages. It is often called Clothing 2.0 as it uses the same concepts as Web 2.0, in that each user can contribute to the site, and the more popular their contributions the better their standing in the site.
With threadless, any user can submit a vector graphic or text design for a t-shirt which is then voted upon by the other members. The higher the score for a t-shirt the more likely the shirt is to be selected by the editors. The voting for designs is on a numeric scale between 1 and 5 with an "I'd buy it!" option. If you select "I'd buy it!" and the t-shirt is subsequently printed you'll get a notification email.
For slogans you can only vote on a yes/no basis, possibly as they are usually of a much lower quality due to people plagiarising to a great extent. That's not to say that plagiarism doesn't occur on the visual designs, as evidenced by the shirt tagged submitted by rocketrobyn which was found to be a piece of stencil art by Miso and Ghostpatrol after it was published.
People were pissed off.
The original artists reluctantly agreed to allow the design to be sold so as not to waste the stock, and took the prize offered, but made it very clear that they would not have submitted such a low quality rendering of their work.
You may be wondering why people would be so keen to submit their precious ideas, surely just seeing your idea for sale isn't worth it? Hell no. Winning designers receive $1500 cash, a 12 club subscription worth $200 and a $300 threadless gift certificate and some copies of your shirt to give to friends and family. Sounds good, eh?
The designs, once approved to be of sufficient quality, are put on the public scoring section so anyone can vote (using AJAX and lightbox shineyness) on your designs. Popular vote is not the sole criterion. You could submit a design that gets thousands of 5/5 votes but it won't be printed unless selected by the editors. This helps prevent ballot stuffing as well as giving the editors a way to have a preference of style that is printed.
New designs are released every Monday with the very popular ones selling out within a few days. The average threadless customer appears to be a male who wears a large shirt as these sell out the fastest. Those without a fashion sense can check if the shirt will appear girly by looking at the relative stock levels of male and female shirts. Well you wouldn't want to go out on a date and be wearing the same clothes now, would you?
There are approximately 9 designs printed every week, with at least some of those being re-prints of a very popular old design. Once a design has sold out users can request a reprint from the purchase screen, if enough people do it may get reprinted. The shirt Communist Party was so popular that its reprint sold out within 1 day. It made me cry.
Users can submit designs as well as vote and comment on others submissions to influence the shirts that are printed. Threadless also keeps track of blog pingbacks to aggregate comments onto the product pages. Some ways of participating, however, will get you stuff. If you refer sales to threadless you get a gift certificate. Submitting photos of yourself in a threadless tshirt will get you either a small gift certificate or a free shirt. They call this the street team in the style of the music industry.
The most successful street team member is Captain_Obvious who was accumulated over $20,000 of referals by listing a coupon code on couponit.com that points sales into his account. Sneaky.
Want to buy a t-shirt and give me a few dollars off my next one? Me love you long time!