Local T-shirt tycoon Threadless Inc. unveiled a stunning partnership Monday, when it posted plans on its web site to start selling its community-designed wares at Gap stores and at Gap.com.
The proposed Gap collection includes 16 men's and 10 women's T-shirts, two of which are coming from a Chicago artist. The shirts will be available in 15 local stores, including the Michigan Ave. flagship location, and you can find more about which stores have them over at Threadless' site for the partnership.
Some might say that partnering with a conglomerate like the Gap is somewhat anathema to Threadless' mission to date.
Threadless is aware of this apparent dissonance and Co-Founder Jack Nickell wrote a blog post that explains some of his vision for his company's future:
What I really wanted to discuss… is Threadless partnerships more broadly. The fact that, now, when you submit a design to Threadless, it's not just to become a Threadless tee. We are working with many partners, Gap is just one, to find opportunities for many more of the designs submitted. Some of these you've seen like Griffin, Dell, Thermos, etc. Others are future partnerships in the works and let me tell you, there are a LOT of them! Some are t-shirt based like Gap but others aren't. We're a design community first, it just so happens we've mostly been printing designs on tees.
Sure enough, if you think back, Threadless has been rolling out a lot of new partnerships, be it with Microsoft to sell digital versions of their shirts on the Xbox 360 or as Nickell points out, their designs cropping up on Thermos bottles.
Or as Threadless PR Guru Bethany Allen told me, "Our goals have not changed. We exist to give the creative minds of the world more opportunities to make and sell great art... we've been doing partnerships to further this goal for years. We'll never be content with status quo, so much to do!"
One other detail worth mentioning is that the Gap-Threadless shirts cost $29.95, which is a touch higher than most shirts in Threadless' own shop.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.