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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Threadless left me Shirtless

By Anthony Garcia
August 28th, 2008

threadlessdropdown.jpgIt had all the makings of powerful viral campaign.

It started as a Tweet:

Who wants a FREE $50 gift code? Here it is: TLTW7897 First come, first serve – and all tees are ON SALE FOR $12!!

Bryan Eisenberg (@TheGrok) caught it among the noise that is twitter traffic, then predictably, he forwarded it to me and the rest of the staff. 50$ bucks off t-shirts at, very cool.

So like any wearer of T-shirts I followed the link and was immediately impressed by the home page. Copy easy to read and clear, check! Design functional and attractive, check! Navigation clear easy to understand, check! Images enticing, check! A cool variety of off-the-wall tees, check! Several ways to start browsing, check!

So I hover over the down arrow to “Browse by Size“. An attractive drop down appears on the hover, and I am presented with the following:
All is beauuutiful, birds are chirping, sun rays are shining. Next, I move my mouse down under Guys, and I click on my size…2XL.

This is where things go wretchedly wrong…
Are these Girls or Guys?

Somebody cue Homer Simpson.

Now please correct me if I am wrong (I’ve been wrong about this once or twice before), but those are human beings of the feminine persuasion right? I’d be willing to bet anyone a FREE $50 Threadless gift code that I am looking at a whole bunch of ladies. Not that I am complaining about that, but I was expecting to see guy t-shirts. Wouldn’t you be?

So, I hover over the nav and click again on the 2XL under Guyyysss. Same thing. The same thing happened after I clicked on all the guys sizes.

I would be interested to see what the bounce/exit rate would be on this page. I would bet a lot more than $50 that is bleeding guys on this listing page. I wonder how many guys are thinking they are in the wrong place.

The reason I like to shop by size is that when I am shopping for T-shirts I hate to fall in love with a T-shirt that is not available in my size, it just grates me. must realize this, because they make it easy for you request notification if your size is not in stock.


The interesting thing is that many of the tees on the site have thumbs of male and female, so male model pics are available. Does Threadless know something I don’t? Do females modeling t-shirts sell more effectively to guys buying t-shirts for themselves? Are us guys that secure in our masculinity that we can buy shirts that ‘girlys’ wear?? Or, are the shirts at that cool that model gender just doesn’t matter?

P.S. I couldn’t even get the coupon to work either. :-(

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Comments (13)

  1. I think problem is in that those pictures are not made by threadless but by their community. They simply let them be in charge of product description (in that case – pictures) and that’s what’s causing confusion.

    I agree it’s not good experience.

  2. Interesting. I am a male and have used the site for a while and this has never bugged me or turned me off purchasing. The way I expect most people discover Threadless is through seeing someone they know wearing a shirt or recommendations. The site is based more around the designs than anything else – and the photos to me are a big part of the brand. The design itself is always available to be viewed in a large format.

  3. I always find it fascinating how two people can see the same thing and interpret it very differently. It appears that Threadless has categorized shirts by size – in this case “Guys XX-Large.” That is, they appear to be displaying all of the shirts that are available in a Men’s 2XL. As the potential customer, you expected the “Guys XX-Large” option to display shirts that a man might be interested in wearing (as opposed to more feminine styles). I wonder if Threadless did any testing to determine how users would search the site.

  4. I got the tweet coupon, and it didn’t work for me, either. When I enter it into the cart, it shows: “Coupon Code: ‘TLTW7897′ Tweet!” at a value of 0. Makes you wonder if there were a (very) limited amount of coupons available, and how many there were, if any were good at all. Not a very good campaign, as it mostly ticked people off. Made me feel like it was a “bait & switch.” I won’t purchase from them now, even though they have some shirts I like. I’ll purchase from another site that is not so deceptive in their marketing.

  5. I love the concept that the uploaded pics are from the threadless community — powerful way to get customers to create your product art for you! — but along with uploading it, couldn’t you ask the community to check off “(M)ale or (F)emale” ? Then when I search for guy’s shirts I’d see the guy’s pics.

    Seriously, I went to the site, managed to figure out that filtering on Guys 2XL meant only that they had stock in my size (good thing) even though the pics were slightly disconcerting. I even managed to put $125 worth of shirts in my cart before finding out the coupon code didn’t work. So they lost the other $125-50 = $75 sale

    One person commented that seeing women model the guy’s shirts didn’t throw him off. I can add my commentary that when I see women wear “my” shirt my gaze is drawn “upward” as it were, because women’s cuts are designed to manage a woman’s , um, “assets”. Fair enough. But the same cut would not drape right on a guy.

    Other than the visual entertainment, I’m not concerned with how the shirt fits some chicks ta-ta’s, I’m much more concerned with how it fits my belly. That’s just my 2XL reality. :)

  6. [...] about this Threadless T-Shirt promotion. Note how there was a sale, the sale was promoted on Twitter and then a guy who got the Tweet [...]

  7. I think the issue is a highly dis-functional site. While granted, I prefer to see a pretty girl in a shirt than a guy of my build any day, when I’m buying a shirt, I do indeed prefer to see that it’s going to fit. Especially since I can’t try it on through my monitor.

    Hopefully these guys have or will learn their lessons.

  8. in a community where images are uploaded, someone from the site must review and ensure quality (laso known as the editor)and appropriate content. So … there is no excuse for this type of dissonance.


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  11. I like and I have bought stuff from them before, I agree though, that page must have a very high bounce rate.

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  13. Inventive, very creative stuff.

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