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This article was published on June 25, 2008

New ideas from the online t-shirt scene

New ideas from the online t-shirt scene
Sjors Timmer
Story by

Sjors Timmer

Sjors is a User Experience Designer, currently doing his MA in Digital Media in London and actively blogging about t-shirts. In the past he Sjors is a User Experience Designer, currently doing his MA in Digital Media in London and actively blogging about t-shirts. In the past he has worked as lead designer for social and e-commerce sites.

shirt11.jpgOn the Internet you can find many people who are totally passionate about certain things. This time we will have a look on t-shirts, they are great Internet products, because you can show the whole print online, they are cheap, everyone needs a few new ones each year and has a pretty good idea of what to expect from a t-shirt, and in contrast with music or films it is impossible to download them. A year ago I got the idea that it would be cool if there was a blog that would keep me updated about the latest t-shirts. Of course after some searching I found out that there where at least 65 of those blogs out there. Nevertheless I thought I could add something extra, so I started with Shirtlog and it hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Besides shops and blogs there are also sites who do something more experimental and innovative on bringing the best t-shirts to the mass. I had an e-mail interview with two interesting sites that mix old and new ideas about blogging, community voting, and user generated content.

Tee vs. Tee

teevstee.jpgFirst one is tee vs tee freelance programmer and designer Aaron Baluczynski reshaped the idea of HotorNot to a place where also battle between shirts where possible, and thereby created an interesting way to find out what users like without pushing them tofav or rate shirts. Aaron is at the moment moving between cities, but he found some time to answer a few questions

1. How did you come up with the idea for TeeVSTee?

It just came to me one day out of the blue. Sorry, no interesting story here. I’ll have my PR department work up a touching tale with just the right balance of personal genius and the hand of fate.

2. What was your biggest challenge during the development process?

There haven’t been any big challenges, except some really boring, technical issues with SQL.

3. What are your ideas about the future of online (t-shirt) sales?

The internet offers too many options, whether it is information or t-shirts. It’s great that the web makes it possible for anybody to publish and sell, but it’s also a challenge for us as consumers to find, for example, the best t-shirts. I’m sure we’ll continue to see miniature Diggs and StumbleUpons emerging to tackle this problem in specific niches. A recommendation from a real person is still the best way to find great stuff.


rumplo.jpgRumplo is a kind of Digg for t-shirts (but than different) with extra options as sorting on tags, colors, and popularity. The site is build and designed by Ian Van Ness and Sahadeva Hammari. Sahadeva was friendly enough to answer a few questions:

1.How did you come up with the idea for Rumplo?

The idea for Rumplo just sort of appeared when I was looking around the web for cool T-shirts — “Wouldn’t it be convenient if I only had to go to one spot to find all the freshest tees?” Ian and I set out to build that place and it’s a big part of what you see at Rumplo today. Now the idea for Rumplo is growing and we hope to add some great tools for the hundreds of small, independent shops around the world making Brilliant Tees, tools that will make it easier for them to promote their work and find new fans on Rumplo. We’ll also continue to make it easier and easier for people to find their new favorite tees on Rumplo, of course, and browse them in new and interesting ways : )

2. What was your biggest challenge during the development process?

Staying focused on the most important pieces of Rumplo turned out to be the most difficult part of building it. It’s so easy to be distracted by the thousand cool ideas that pop up in our heads. So staying focused turned out out to be the best thing that happened to us, as it pushed us to really build something that people would want to use and that artists and shops find works for them.

3. What are your ideas about the future of online (t-shirt) sales?

I think that people are going to start seeing a lot more international work, T-shirts that are really different from what they’re used to and that veer outside the norms we’ve come to expect in our local geographies.UniQlo is doing some really good stuff with their T-shirt line, and there are also tons of really creative, small shops in Europe and elsewhere that we’ve been really happy to see people submitting Rumplo. It’s fun to see people’s surprised comments when they see some of the cool shirts from far off places. At Rumplo we want to make it easy find and explore the world’s T-shirts in that way.

Top 5 t-shirts sites that count:

That is; according to me, you are allowed to disagree in the comments.

1. Threadless

Threadless is an insanely successful t-shirt shop, It has almost everything that could be seen as necessary to create a successful company; it has a user base who submit designs, other users will rate them and tell their interest in buying, and finally Threadless prints the t-shirts most wanted. Many sites have tried to copy this concept, but only a very few succeeded. WIRED’s Jeff Howe explained during SocialStrategyTalk in Amsterdam last May why.

2. Rumplo

Rumplo already mentioned in the interview is a new way to browse the internet content in a meta view, although tried by many sites, the visual aspect and the standardization among t-shirts make this extremely useful.

3. Spreadshirt

Spreadshirt, one of Europe’s succesful former start-up companies, allowing people to print one shirt at the time, or start their own t-shirt shop by only designing the prints and leaving all the other work to Spreadshirt.

4. Tcritic

T-critic, one of the oldest and most consistently updating blogs, has even more readers than The Next Web (yet).

5. How to fold a shirt

How to fold a shirt, an evergreen among the t-shirt videos, the classic Japanese way of folding a T-shirt. Has more than thousand tributes on Youtube.

17. Shirtlog, no top 5 is ever complete without a 6th item. My own sandbox to keep in track with the latest shirts, and practice a bit with what it takes to run a thematic weblog.


What I think is interesting in the t-shirt case is that it shows that any content on the Internet can be reworked and redistributed. Not only blog posts, written text or photos, but also consumer products (or at least the text and photos of them) can be reordered and reworked by a group of people. And although we’ve already seen a lot of work on the area of media, I think there are still enough objects of fascination left: cars, houses, paintings, food, electronics, books, you name it.. also could make a great group driven suggesting community.