Threadless Origins

Threadless was founded in 2000, growing out of a t-shirt design competition on the legendary forums. Since then, Threadless has become the most successful crowd-sourced apparel company and community on the Internet.

This thread is for sharing your Threadless experience. How did you first hear about Threadless? What was your first or favorite shirt? And beyond the shirts, what were your first moments in the Threadless community like. What are your fondest memories? Share your stories.

How has Threadless been woven into your life?

Watch this

My buddy actually showed me threadless over 2 years ago.I don't exactly have a "favorite shirt" as they are all great.My first moments were quite awesome.I submitted a critique and the community came calling to help.Thats the great thing about this place is the amazing community and their continued effort to help out.Threadless has actually had a deciding factor on my future and now I am currently studying graphic design.

blackhand_ profile pic Alumni

In college, I was part of the Swankarmy design collective. This was towards the end of the community's life. When the Swankarmy disbanded, many of its members found a home on That site's forum was where the Threadless founders got the idea to create shirts from designs submitted on the Internet.

Unfortunately, I missed the whole boat, though my old Swankarmy comrades told me about a t-shirt competition on the forum. Several years later, when Threadless was an actual company, the promise of cash prizes for printed designs caught my eye, but I was pursuing a career in video game concept development which never materialized.

Over the years, I'd check Threadless and vote on random designs here and there. I half-heartedly thought of potential submissions, but it wasn't until last year that I took the plunge and submitted my first design...which was promptly rejected. Of course I made the error of asking the forum why my design this happened. We were all new once.

Since then, I submitted more designs, got involved with the community, and found myself creating more in the past three months than I have in the past three years. In a former life, I was an industrial designer, and after that I tried to make it as a concept artist. I don't think I'm a Marxist, but there's something more appealing about making a design and holding it in your hands as a well-crafted t-shirt.

blackhand_ profile pic Alumni

Ugh...why can't we edit posts? These OCD tendencies are killing me.


I got introduced by an ad...about monster challenge /iron man challenge....since then my internet surfing has shifted tides

goliath72 profile pic Alumni

Back in 2005 I started working as an assistant manager and out of my student workers was wearing break free

And I said love that shirt where di d u get it? He told me about threadless and said some great shirts.that Friday was pay day and shirts would sell out the first day I was able to buy skunk2 and operation sweet tooth. Back then my username was thebabe_2. Since then I switched to my current username and love it. I feel it fits me better. One of my favorite shirts I bought is a threadless classic lil soap loo it took me forever to finally be able to buy it.

As far as some of my favorite times on threadless was the slogan shoguns and official slogan club that helped me not only get my first print cashiers are always checking me out and gave me the opportunity to meat Great slogan peeps like FA, rossmat8, soloyo, puppetmeat, and a few others.

Another obvious amazing memories is meeting a lot of great artists like Madcobra, v.calahan, kooky love, RAULIO, gebe, theo86, and lots more, which i'd love to name.

And of course the PRINTS I've had thanks again eveyome and Threadless for the prints

melmike profile pic Alumni

I've been heavily into designing tees since about 99. I still have my old 4 colour carousel with about 50 frames and 20 tubs of ink in my garage. I think I've been aware of Threadless since about 2001-2002, but never really paid it much attention past "oh yeah, that's cool", until about 2005, when I came across this tee:

Since then I've been an avid fan and purchaser (many computers, email addresses, hence accounts later, here I am). I think this is my 4th account on this site, but the one I FINALLY started submitting designs of my own, so I'm sticking with it this time.

Akaka profile pic Alumni

I think the first Threadless shirt I loved was this

didn't have a credit card back then so I never bought it.

Zai Alam

I found out about threadless about 3 or 4 years ago after being directed to the website by my friend Steven Ha who buys tees from the site regularly. Since then I have always browsed the shop admiring all the awesome illustrations and designs.

About a year ago we were planing to collaborate on a joint project designing a range of videogame inspired tees, and had a pretty cool Ikaruga concept design in the works which he suggested we should submit as it fitted in with the threadless style.

We were both working full-time and didn't have much spare time to pursue art & illustration work, so the designs didn't materialise in their final form.

About a month ago I came across the Odd Couples challenge and decided to create something and submitted my Godzilla/Ico design. I wasn't quite aware or prepared for the avalanche of down-votes haha.

I decided I would learn and improve, and create more designs for future threadless submissions. I love creating illustrations, and hope that one day one of my designs will get printed :)

I also posted on the forum for the first time and created a Zelda (my favourite game series) related thread, hoping to make friends with people who also love the series.

My other intention was to find out who else loved Majora's Mask as much as I did, because I plan on creating a tee design based on the 24 masks from the game - reinterpreting each mask with a strong illustration style. I still hope to find a collaborator in this future project :)

macdoodle profile pic Alumni

A co-worker came in on a casual Friday wearing this about 4+ years ago. I asked where he got it and I was hooked from day one.

And I believe this was my first purchase.

I had zero idea that on line t shirt design was even a thing before Threadless came into my life. I heart you Threadless. I heart you hard!

Jordan_Bender profile pic Alumni

I was looking for a zombie tshirt for my brother who was at the time obsessed with zombie movies! And I found this:

And I've been here ever since. I started making (what I thought were) shirts, lord I was so terrible at it. I still don't know what I'm doing half the time.

Anyways I got my first print over a year ago by Gap, and I got to fly to Chicago and do the artist interview with Phil Jones and (I can't remember the other fellow's name sorry!) Getting interviewed was weird and awkward.

I met a lot of awesome Threadless peeps and it was so much fun! I really hope we get to go in August!

macdoodle profile pic Alumni
JordanLBender said:

I was looking for a zombie tshirt for my brother who was at the time obsessed with zombie movies! And I found this:

And I've been here ever since. I started making (what I thought were) shirts, lord I was so terrible at it. I still don't know what I'm doing half the time.

Anyways I got my first print over a year ago by Gap, and I got to fly to Chicago and do the artist interview with Phil Jones and (I can't remember the other fellow's name sorry!) Getting interviewed was weird and awkward.

I met a lot of awesome Threadless peeps and it was so much fun! I really hope we get to go in August!

:) I hope your brother liked the shirt.

gebe profile pic Alumni

Wow 0.0 In 2000 I was only 12. Probably, in my Country, the echo of this great community has come with a little late. The first time I heard about it was in 2009 at the university. In fact, at that time, I didn't have yet sufficient software knowledge in order to compete. All my drawings were done by hand and did not even so much sense (I was attached with women's bodies, especially the legs - a passion that I still have haha). I never liked to color my drawings, so I began to study a way to bring them in a digital way. Minimalist japanese style (and anime culture) has heavily influenced my art style, while my conceptual style has been influenced by Futurama (I'm a big fan and I love that kind of irony, because it is not trivial). I entered the competition in 2011 with a still primordial style. It's only thanks to the community that I managed to make it better, but I consider myself a newbie.

My favorite printed tee is currently "Hey, Mr. Blue sky"

rskinner1122 profile pic Alumni

about two years ago I was searching for a cool elephant T-shirt and I found it!! I loved Art and making it so I fell in love with Threadless!!! Right now being a stay at home mom It's my Art outlet!! I love the people and the Art its great!!

FoodStampDavis profile pic Alumni

I first became aware of Threadless a bunch of years ago when my friend Tristan started working there. I joined because he told me to. I liked it. He would send me shirts as gifts. Then 4 years later I started subbing for no particular reason.

Man! What a story! I bet you guys were riveted.

chuckpcomics profile pic Alumni

I just stumbled upon it last April, my first threadless shirts was light painter! and my favorite right now is data. I remember being nervous submitting my first sub, but now I feel (less) of a noob and more comfortable. threadless has been great for me to expand as an artist and let creativity flow. I am getting better every day and threadless has been huge in that, like being able to be encouraged and get critique is great! and I have "meet" some really nice people, hopefully we will meet for reals

5eth profile pic Alumni

It was probably 6 or so years ago, I was in High School and one day my friend wore Julia's Electromagnetic Spectrum and I loved it

lxromero profile pic Staff

My brother told me about it about 6 or so years ago and then told me about it even more 5 years ago when I first moved to Chicago. I subbed a few times, bought a few shirts, and kinda kept tabs on the site and stuff but was never very vocal, till this last year that is.

My first purchase was

SteveOramA profile pic Alumni

I first came across Threadless back in 2002 when I started out in the world of t-shirt design. I signed up then with a different screen name then I have now because "SteveOramA" didn't exist for me yet. I would purchase shirts and couldn't wait for them to arrive, like a kid on Christmas morning. I never knew shirts could look so cool and get so many looks while wearing them in public before Threadless.

I lurked around on the site and only commented on stuff for years before mustering up the courage to submit my first design. I was somewhat nervous and hesitant, feeling that my skills weren't up to par with the awesome shirts that were being printed. Fast forward to 160 submissions later and this may still be the case but I continue to submit because it's what I love to do. Purely for the sake of creating art and keeping me passionate is the reason I continue to do it. There were many years before Threadless where I didn't create anything. I didn't feel inspired or have the desire to put pencil to paper for a long time. Threadless got me out of that funk and I couldn't be more thankful for it. This is the first place I immediately post my new art and I will continue to do so for as long as the site is live.

Side note: I just noticed on my profile that I helped 1,000 shirts to get made. That is incredible. Where else can I say that I helped 1,000 of anything to get made? The opportunity that Threadless gives many artists is incredible.

Threadless is simply incredible.