Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Chicago's favorite T-shirt company is bringing their online empire to a retail location near you

by Kim Jeffries

It seems everyone hearts Threadless: The consumer-driven, cheeky T-shirt design company ships 80,000 items a month from its North Center warehouse—and with more than 400,000 customers signed up on to rank new design submissions, it's safe to say their wares are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous.

And once they open their first retail location in Lakeview Sept. 14, that influence is likely to be omnipresent throughout Chicago. "I think we're at a point where we want to feed into the community on a more physical level," says Ursula Arsenault, retail projects manager. And since that sense of community is (BREAK HERE) the foundation of the company, it follows that they've conceptualized their new space as a community center more than as a retail location. Threadless has teamed with local design software educators Digital Bootcamp to offer workshops in the evenings, with more programs in development. And with sleek, high-tech gear installed throughout the store (think monitors as mannequin heads and displaying the details for each product), all the marketing and signage can be manipulated from the warehouse.

As a thank you to customers, Threadless is throwing a grand opening party at Metro Friday night, with Hey Mercedes headlining the early show with Freer and Anathallo, and OFFICE at the top of the bill for the later show with White Hot Knife and the Assembly. Life During Wartime DJs Mother Hubbard and Bald Eagle spin afterward. Tickets are available at the Threadless store for free all this week, as long as supplies last.

Even with all these changes, staffers insist the focus will always be on the designs themselves. "Because we're going to have a constant rotation—every week we bring in new and take out old—it really puts emphasis on new designs," store manager Donella Demorest says of the new space. And with store exclusives, kids' items (like onesies and little tees) and a penchant for expansion, it looks like a lot more people are gonna heart Threadless in the near future.

Threadless is located at 3011 N. Broadway (773/878-3557); visit or for more info about the grand opening celebration