That day has finally come. The beloved T-Shirt showcase and forum, Emptees, has shut its doors. At its peak, Emptees was a great place to interact with and learn a lot from people with the same passion for T-Shirts. No matter what you thought of the site and its members (even the Indonesian ones…sorry for the inside joke), you can’t say that it wasn’t an awesome resource. Emptees will be missed.
As for alternative, you should check out Mintees (run by former Emptees moderator, Rob Dobi, who is also the founder of Fullbleed) and Band Job (created by the guys behind The Black Axe).
What is your best emptees memory, what did you love about the site?
I’ve been meaning to post about the imminent closing of the beloved (and sometime hated) T-Shirt showcase and forum website, Emptees. They were beloved by myself and many others because of the top notch quality of designers and T-Shirt designs. Small independent designers were regulars and big time names like Jake Nickell (Threadless founder) and Johnny Cupcakes often frequented the site. Emptees was a melting pot of creative knowledge. In fact, many of the awesome T-Shirt related relationships that I’ve formed over the last 3 years have been because of Emptees. I owe Emptees a lot. It was an almost perfect site.
I say almost perfect, because, like almost everything, Emptees had its imperfections. For every awesome artist that frequented the site, there were a handful of others that would upload pure crap. I know that art is subjective, but I’ve seen some real crap posted on the site. Things got a whole lot better with moderation, but still, some horrid uploads still found ways of sneaking in. Also, the forum, which was a great place for conversation had become one that was filled with so much negativity that I had stopped popping by. I used to visit Emptees at least once or twice a day, but then it had just become too much for me to handle. The bad had overweighed the good and I moved on. What had been a place for awesome tees to be showcased had turned into a site that pledged to fight off Indonesians and rip off artists. Member criticism was no longer constructive. Drama filled the air constantly. The fun seemed to be sapped right out of the site.
This was the official word from Indie Labs:
Part of the extremely difficult decision to close Emptees comes from a larger internal decision that we’ll be talking more about soon, which is to do away with our parent company, Indie Labs, and simply change the name of our business to Big Cartel. This allows us to focus exclusively on Big Cartel and Pulley, and accomplish some of the huge things we have planned with such a small team. Our customers (including many of you) deserve that kind of dedication.
You may be wondering why we don’t just sell Emptees. This is something we’ve looked into, but even if we found a buyer that offered a decent price (and wouldn’t just whore the site out), the amount of time and money it would take to transfer our entire infrastructure, and the legal red tape we’d need to go through, basically take that option off the table. We even looked at giving the site away for free, but that was plagued by these same issues.
Instead, we feel that closing Emptees opens up an opportunity for someone else to do it right. Someone that can stand on our shoulders, learn from our mistakes, and build a curated community from the ground up that they are an active part in. Perhaps Band Job? I know Rob is cooking up some ideas now too.
And so Emptees will shut its door on March 1. It is unsure as to whether Emptees will stay online as a static website (they are filled with a wealth of knowledge). However, there have been a few Emptees replacements that have seemingly popped up and will take over where Emptees left off. Mintees is one of those site, and will be run by former Emptees moderator, Rob Dobi. At the moment, you can sign up for an account at Mintees and even import your settings from Emptees.
Mintees is going to launch within the next few weeks and should be completely up before emptees shuts down. in the next few weeks i’ll be looking to the community for more ideas as to how to make the site better for everyone. a panel of trusted moderators will be chosen to guarantee the site doesn’t let any crap sift through.
for the time being we want all of your valuable content at emptees to remain active. there are far too many resources + tees that would never see the light of day once this place ceases to exist. head over to http://www.mintees.com and activate your account, upon launch your existing content will be migrated over.
Rob Dobi has also put together a funny Best of the Worst Emptees videos. Take a look below:
I can so remember growing up and doodling the “S” thing on everything school related. I had no idea that this 90′s meme was so far reaching. Apparently, the “S” thing spread worldwide:
“The ‘Super S’ or ‘Stussy’ symbol was drawn by kids worldwide in the 1990â€™s. Origins of the symbol are generally unknown but some have suggested it is related to the â€œStussyâ€ clothing line (although some say they never used this font style). It was a worldwide meme reaching countries all over the world, primarily drawn at school on binders or notebooks. There is a technique in drawing the symbol (which consists of 14 lines) which was regarded as a kind of special knowledge. In some schools it was later banned because it was thought of as being a gang symbol. Multiple S symbols are referred to as ‘stussies’.”
One-piece “union suits” are cut into separate top and bottom pieces. The top part of the union suit is long enough to be tucked into the waistband of bottoms. Miners and stevedores use the T-Shirt to combat the hot environment. The United States Navy makes the T-Shirt standard issue at around 1918 and are used as undergarments worn under uniforms. The T-Shirt appears in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the first time in 1922. During the Great Depression the T-Shirt becomes the default garment for many workers. The Wizard of Oz releases the first promotional T-Shirt in 1939. Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey was the first to put a political slogan on a T-Shirt and it said “Dew-It With Dewey.” Charlie Brown first appears in a T-Shirt in 1950. Following World War II it is common to see veterans wearing T-Shirts with their trousers as casual clothing. Marlon Brando turns the T-Shirt into a fashion statement after wearing one in A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951. In 1955, James Dean appears in Rebel Without A Cause in a white T-Shirt making it the symbol of rebellious youth.
Tank tops, A-Shirts (wife beaters), muscle shirts, scoop shirts and v-necks are developed as variants to the T-Shirt. Plastisol ink is developed in 1959 allowing variety in T-Shirt designs. Screen printing becomes the most popular form of T-Shirt printing. Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara graces the T-Shirt of many activitsts in the 1960′s. John Sebastian and Janis Joplin popularize tie-dyed shirts. Jacqueline Bisset appears in the movie The Deep in 1977 and is seen surfacing wearing a white T-Shirt and a bikini underneath – the Wet T-Shirt is born.Â Thermochromatic dyes are introduced in the 80′s and change color when subjected to heat. In the 90′s, Hip Hop afficianados wear T-Shirts that extend to their knees. Threadless revolutionizes the way T-Shirts are designed and sold online in the 2000′s with their crowd sourcing model of business.
This week, I’ll be featuring two different clothing brands in two different Indie Tee Spotlights – to make up for missing last weeks post. First up this week is a brand that I featured in Glorious Nonsensities Episode 6: Crazy Bananas, Endgame Clothing and Chess.
I was lucky enough to chat with John OBrien, the founder of Endgame Clothing. He discusses why the game of chess is so important to him and what prompted him to start a clothing company that is focused on the chess playing community. Despite having such a defined demographic, John has made his niche in the clothing industry and hopes that the opening of his new online store will take his brand to the next level. For John, it’s all about bringing exposure to the game he loves and is so passionate about. Also, Endgame Clothing is the newest addition to our Attack of the Coupon Codes promotion so you can now save 20% off of your entire order with the coupon code “COTY”.Â
Coty: How long have you been playing chess? Do you compete professionally?
John: My father first taught be to play chess when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I was a casual player for many years before becoming more serious with the game. I play in tournaments and online, but I’m nowhere close to a professional player.
Coty: What is it about chess that inspired you to create your own clothing line around it? How would you describe the typical attire of the average chess player?
John: Because I was a chess player, I wanted some chess clothes. But the only chess shirts I could find were totally lame. And I’m not talking about nerdy chic, I’m talking straight up lame – the kind of lame that gets your ass kicked! So in 2001, while writing a screenplay with a buddy of mine, I had this funny idea for “Hardcore Chess Apparel.” It was really just a joke. But when I came across a friend of a friend of a friend who silkscreened shirts in his garage, I asked him if he would make a shirt for me – this was the start of Endgame Clothing. It’s been Bishops and Bentleys ever since!
The typical chess player’s attire is pretty typical to anyone else: jeans and t-shirts.
Coty: You opened up your online shop last month, after 6 months of planning and preparing for the launch. What was that 6 month period leading to the launch like? What were the most important lessons you learned about starting an apparel company?
John: The 6 months of preparation before the launch of the online store and the new designs was quite an education! I was starting from scratch. I had one crappy handdrawn shirt that was printed on and off in some dude’s garage for several years, but I didn’t know anything about design or suppliers or e-commerce. I basically wandered around in circles for a few months until I found a little website called Emptees. This changed everything! Suddenly I had instant 24/7 access to the most talented people in the industry. I still had a crazy time putting everything together, but there is no way I would be where I am today without the Emptees crowd – thanks, guys!
There are many lessons I learned along the way, but I will give you one specific example. Since my launch, I have been very happy with the sales of all of my shirts except for one, the one I call Trophy. I basically wanted this design to be “light on the chess elements.” My rationale was that I wanted to offer a shirt for people who might not be comfortable with a whole lot of chess on their chest. I came up with the concept and the artist did an amazing job with it. I love the shirt, but it’s my worst seller!
After asking some of my best customers why they never chose the Trophy shirt, I found the reason. The reason is that if people are going to sack up and buy a chess t-shirt, they want chess on it!! So the moral of the story is to stick with your branding!!
Coty: Have you gotten feedback from other chess players? What has their response been like to your brand and your designs?
John: The response so far from other chess players has been great! I even have a few fans that have gone out of their way to help promote Endgame. So it’s really the players and fans that make everything worth the hassle. There have been many times when I have thought to myself, “Chess t-shirts? Chess t-shirts? What the hell am I thinking?” But then getting a really nice email or picture from a fan makes it all worth it!
In this episode I wear the Emptees 1 Year Anniversary Tee designed by theÂ Emptees forum membersÂ and review a shirt that was sent to me by Andy Meyer of Rethink Clothing,Â a brand whose designs are exclusively designed by college students. Be sure to use the coupon code COTY for 20% off your next ReThink Clothing purchase. As always, enjoy with tea and a comfy tee!Â
Otter-TudeÂ Â by Rethink Clothing. Good: The print is HUGE, badass design, the ink used is super soft, printed on American Apparel so you know what to expect in terms of fit, supports college designers, bouncy balls accompanied the tee, an overall great shirt. Bad: Traditional tag instead of a screen printed tag. Price: $19.99 but you can save 20% with the coupon code “COTY”.
WatchTeeV is the newest site by the same guy that brought us The Art of Apparel. This brand new site is dedicated to collecting and posting videos that are all about the T-Shirt. Topics range from professionalism, to screen printing to preparing designs. It’s a great place to find videos focused on the tee industry. Although the selection is a bit sparse at the moment, we can expect to see the number of videos rise as the site takes off.
The idea is the brainchild of the members at the tee forum, Emptees, who discussed such a site during an online chat session. Hillman also known as MadeByMas on Emptees, took the idea and ran with it and was was able to do a great job on the new site. Although still in beta mode, users can submit video links that the admin can review and then post on the site. Hopefully I can add some of my videos on there in the future! Check out WatchTeeV!Â
This tee by Garret Egles has been getting a lot of attention over at the Emptees forum. The tee has a huge print of that Marvel character turned movie star in the 1980′s, Howard The Duck. From the preview, the print looks huge and has a back print as well that is just as huge. The back has a line taken from the 1986 film, “On my planet we don’t say die, we say kill!”Â
It’s Alive has this shirt available for presale and it is going for $30.00 -- a hefty price but you do get that huge front and back print. The front consists of 5 colors and the back has 3. Another thing to note is that this tee is super limited and they are only printing 36 of these on tees and 16 of these on tanks. They will be available in Mint, Raspberry, Sunshine and Grass colored tees.Â
Oh and if you’re scratching your head wondering who Howard The Duck is, then here’s a clip from the George Lucas produced flop turned cult favorite.
And to no surprise, the author of the article runs his own line of tees, The Elegant Scoundrel. He has put together an excellent 1st series of tees that jive well together. You can find his full line of tees at his online store.Â
“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail. Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique…”
2. Don’t Force Your Name.
“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail.Â Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique.”
3. Don’t Unveil your company too early.
“Speaking from personal experience, hold off announcing your presence to the world before you really have anything to show. As tempting as it may be to tell everyone and anyone who will listen that you are now the Supreme Overlord of the Illustrious (INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE), hold off until you have a solid collection of things to keep the public’s attention…”
4. Be passionate about your work.
“If you have a true passion about what you are doing, and where you plan to go, that will be evident to those around you. But don’t just focus on the shirts themselves. Find other nuances of the industry that fascinate and inspire you, and learn as much about those topics as possible. Knowing about the inner workings of the biz and how things are made and presented will not only give you a clearer understanding of the industry you wish to be in, but will also give you things to keep you motivated and keep you inspired when your plain sick of seeing .PSD save files and the same graphic you have been staring at on your monitor for the last week straight…”
It’s a great thing whenever people in the tee community help each other out. The people at tee-a-day site TeeFury have teamed up with Stabb Clothing to help raise money for charity.Â
In a recent post on the Stabb blog, Stabb founder Ryan Grandmaison, mentioned the recent cancer diagnosis of a good friend and bandmade (Something for Nothing) of his. He has also been posting regular updates about his friend so be sure to check those out on the Stabb blogs.
TeeFury recently reached out to Grandmaison and offered to collaborate with the up-an-coming tee brand to create a tee with the help of the indie tee community.Â Grandmaison (aka as RustyEight) posted about the collaboration on the Emptees forum:
As most of you know by now, my buddy and guitarist Ben has been fighting Burkittâ€™s Lymphoma for the past few months and thanks to you guys weâ€™ve raised a bunch of money and some clothes.
Wotto approched me the other day with an idea on how to raise some more, viaÂ TeeFuryÂ .Â TeeFury Collab! Alphabet Edition!
Whatâ€™s the idea? Every designer signs up to design 1 letter (capital). If we have enough people(52) weâ€™ll do both capital and lower case.Â Keep it at 3 Colors.
The shirt will then go up on TeeFury for sale sometime in in January or February. If you would like to sign up for this huge collab, post the letter you would like. First come first serve. Remember, proceeds will be going to Ben, you will not get paid for it.Â DEADLINE IS JANUARY 31STÂ
If you’re interested, then be sure to check out the forum post. You can sign up for a letter there (there are a couple of letters left as of this posting). Good luck to TeeFury and Stabb with this!