Impact and individuality, artistic style and originality, these are the watchwords of the t-shirt fashion industry and its consumer base.
One explanation for the ‘t-shirt boom′ is a revolution in Internet technologies, with the arrival of Web 2.0, more and more websites, stores, business and consumer networks, search engines and directories realise they have to keep their audience engaged, and consequently interactivity has become the name of the game. It doesn’t really matter what you create or sell, if your potential buyers are bored they will leave.
Unlike the ‘real world’, the online shopping experience cannot rely on the vitality of human senses such as taste, touch, smell to inform their choices. Perhaps we’ll find a way in the future to replicate these essential components of the human and therefore shopping experience.
Until then we have one vital advantage on the Net and that is the interactivity of community. Something unheard of in the modern world, a concept one might even describe as old fashioned, has created a revolution on the Web. The explosion in user-rated and user-generated content has changed shopping online forever.
Now the t-shirt fashion world is leading the next stage of the Internet’s development as a fully-rounded experiential shopping platform.
Until recently t-shirt designers had two choices, firstly they could set up their own independent store with ecommerce capabilities and secure hosting and hope and pray they can cover their costs. The second choice was using a shopping portal that could provide designers a way to economically begin to sell their unique t-shirt designs to a worldwide audience, whilst keeping costs as low as possible for their consumers.
Some years back a new company, formed originally as a thread on a t-shirt forum burst onto the scene, and it completely revolutionised the way that people buy fashion. It introduced the idea of totally empowering the customer, not only enabling them to rate the current collection on sale and communicate personally with each designer, but more so, the customer can decide if a t-shirt is ever even made. Before a new design is printed users can vote through a 7 day process that defines the fate of every t-shirt they sell.
I can imagine a bright future for the online consumer, more and more choice, variety, control over design and production. The only problem is the rising cost of fuel. The ‘virtual shopping’ experience may always be able to compete with smaller items, but as the world runs dry, shipping expenses will become highly prohibitive. The future may be far less complicated than any of us can imagine.
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