Yesterday we went to Malmö in Sweden to have dinner with Olle and Luisa, which is the stuff for other legends. We went a bit earlier to do some “Swedification” of my wardrobe.

At some point we found ourselves in a tiny store, called TShirt. The guy running the store (“although it means I don’t get to design that often any more”) told us the story behind it while we were browsing the handful of shelves.

TShirt is a store and a webstore, and has been around since 2006. Artists from around the world create designs, and those are used on the shirts. The shirts that are made are available in the store for just 1 week, and then the next batch of designs comes in. Every week a new series of designs. The cotton shirts are also fair trade.

The remarks made on the process were telling for where added value is to be found in our networked world, where existing structures fail and become a barrier, and how scaling is done network-wise.

1) Originally the shirts were printed at a large company in Turkey. “We were only a small customer for them”, and there regularly were delays. This did not work well at all with the weekly rhythm of replacing the designs. A week delay means an empty shop. So they switched to a smaller Swedish printer “where we are a much more significant customer”.

2) Artists from around the world can contribute designs to make the shirts, providing them with a stage for their work, and building a high trust network.

3) Getting the Fair Trade label took a very long time: “They are simply not set-up to handle companies like us”, as they are used to much bigger outfits that can handle and work well with the bureaucracy involved in getting the Fair Trade certification.

The two shirts I picked, are ‘Beast‘ by Marcus Pettersson (S) and ‘Streetdreams‘ by Rakesh Makwama (UK)

I left with two shirts for 500 SEK (just under 60 Euro), and a story. The shirts are great, the story to me much more significant.