Chapter 5

Build the Coalition

Prepare to see exclusive Threadless products at GAP stores starting at the end of February!

—Jake Nickell

This is how the founder of Threadless, Jake Nickell, introduced a new partnership with GAP in January 2012.1

For over a decade, Threadless has been an online forum for a community of artists to submit t-shirt designs. Today, the community creates artwork for many more items, from smartphone covers to water bottles. Threadless invites their community to submit designs, often in response to specific themes or challenges. And the community participates in other ways, by voting on submissions and providing feedback as well.

Threadless uses this feedback to select winning designs, reward winners, produce the t-shirts, and sell them via (and their retail store in Chicago). The model has been successful for Threadless. Crowdstorming provides them with a ready stream of fresh ideas and allows them to deliver products with good margins that have been vetted by a creative community. It also provides artists and designers with a great opportunity to make money. Threadless awards cash for the winning designs.

So why would Threadless want to partner with a mainstream retail giant like GAP?

Threadless + GAP

Why? This was the question Jake answered on his blog and in interviews.2 First, partnering was a way for the Threadless community to get more exposure for their work. Threadless presented GAP with about 100 designs for the first run of shirts. ...

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