Custom T-shirt Company Threadless Acquires Shoe Brand
Threadless works by allowing designers and artists to submit their work, and users vote on the ones they like best. The winning submissions will be printed onto items like T-shirts, bags and wall decorations.
Bucketfeet, which, along with Threadless, is based in Chicago, does something similar, according to the Chicago Tribune. The company sells shoes printed with artist-submitted designs, and started printing shoes on demand, allowing for a turnaround time of 10 days after buyers submitted an order.
Threadless is going to start integrating the shoe company into its e-commerce platform during the next year.
"The thing that's been really exciting for us is how Bucketfeet has been able to switch all their production from taking huge quantities of inventory to a print-on-demand model," Threadless co-founder and CEO Jake Nickell told the Chicago Tribune. "There are certain products that lend themselves to print-on-demand, like keychains and mugs. We're really trying to break that paradigm. The printing technology has gotten to this point where it's on par with screen printing in terms of quality and even price—the price is still a little bit off, but it's getting better."
For promotional products distributors, this demonstrates the desire for fast turnarounds on custom orders, and shows what a lot of distributors are already doing: small (or no) minimum quantity and domestic printing for fast turnarounds.
"None of the other artist-driven e-commerce players out there, including Threadless, had yet figured out footwear," Bucketfeet co-founder Raaja Nemani, said. "So I think it's a perfect match."
This also shows the increasing demand for custom footwear. In the promotional products industry, tops like T-shirts and hoodies have pretty much ruled the wearable technology game, but if this is any indication of what end-users are looking for, custom sneakers might be a good thing to start looking into for promotional campaigns. We could see this being a hit for school spirit or charity run events.