Threadless co-founder Jake Nickell's Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World's Most Inspiring Online Design Community
is just what you'd want in a history of one of the Internet's most consistently interesting and creative commercial endeavors. The text combines a potted, year-by-year (and blow-by-blow) history of the site's founding, growing pains, successes and setbacks; interleaved with these are short essays from entrepreneurs, employees, designers, and journalists about the significance of Threadless, as well as interviews with Threadless designers from Malaysia to Wisconsin to New Zealand.
The book reproduces hundreds of the site's best t-shirt designs from over the years, with notes from each of designers, as well as photographs of the amiable chaos that seems to have characterized the company and the site's lifecycle.
Threadless has an astonishing story to tell -- a story about business and community co-existing and even thriving, a story about naive entrepreneurs who were able to iterate quickly using the power of the Internet to get it right, a story about art and fun and creativity. My favorite quote came from Sonmi (a rare female voice in the book, which has a regrettable whiff of sausagefest about it), one of the site's successful designers: "I love nice people who make cool things" (itself a quote from Will Bryant). From what I can tell, that about sums up the Threadless ethos.
The Threadless book is a treat -- more informative than an artbook, less boring than a Harvard Business Review case-study, a sweet-spot between commercialism and passion, like the site itself.
Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World's Most Inspiring Online Design Community
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