I have written here before about Cafepress, Spreadshirt or Zazzle -- companies that mix peer production, micro-branding, mass customization and viral marketing. Add to this another hot trend of Web 2.0: Remixing. A new web site called Innertee is mixing all these ideas to create something pretty cool: t-shirts remixed. Not yet launched, but open on a beta site and with plenty of information in the founder's blog, Innertee is a site that combines open innovation and mass customization.
It has its own design language: (1) An "element" is defined as any original artwork submitted for sharing. (2) A "design" is any combination or "mix" of elements.
On the element level we have open innovation, something that Threadless.com has perfected in the world of T-Shirts. It allows everyone ("artists") to submit artworks, thus using the talent distributed in an entire design space.
On a second level, however, also users ("mixers") not feeling like a great artist can participate. By mixing elements into an own design, they create a custom product that is then produced on-demand by Innertee. Mixers also can sell their creations to others. In both cases, the originator (artist) of the elements used in teh design gets a provision – and earns respect and attention in the community.
Miles and Jamie, the founders, have been working on the idea of Innertee for the past three years and it’s been an interesting journey. "We stared a business called Scribe Graphics as a traditional screen printing (anti-technology) business in 2003 as a means to be able to hang around in our garage and drink beer without the fear of reprisal from our families and lurkers in the neighborhood", Miles says. Eventually, the screen printing business morphed into a design concept / brand called Red Army Surplus Co. Now, they want to bring it on a next level with Innertee.
I regard Innertee a promising business idea as it both acknowledges that there is great design talent out there, much more than a traditional firm could incorporate behind its walls, but that at the same time most customers are no designers and are not willing to fully customize an aesthetic design. It will be interesting to see how artists develop a new design language suitable for mixing and matching. Not the artist will be most successful who submits the most unique design, but the one who submits the most "mashable" design, i.e. a design that can be used by many "mixers" as a platform or starting point for a new mix.
More information? The founders publish an interesting blog with plenty of information on their project.
And Patty Seybold has a great posting on remixing and "mash up" in general on her blog.