Being a professional athlete often involves providing feedback on gear. A poorly placed buckle or an abrasive stitch might go unseen by a designer, but it’ll be felt by an athlete using the thing in the real world. Gear makers rely on pros for their insights in this regard, but Ten Thousand, a fitness apparel brand favored by professional trainers, wants to tap amateurs.
The company recently released the Field Test Shirt Pack, a collection of four prototype active tees that it plans to sell at cost in exchange for a little bit of feedback. “We’re always trying to find more ways to work collaboratively with our customers and the broader fitness community to develop and test products,” says Ten Thousand’s co-founder, Keith Nowak. “Field Test is an example of how we’re creating products along with these athletes.”
Ten Thousand is making 500 packs that run for $72, or $18 per shirt. Given that each shirt is made of premium fabrics — and that the brand’s shirts typically go for $54 — that’s quite a steal. It’s those fabrics that the brand wants feedback on, and each one prioritizes a different trait: durability, versatility, flexibility and intensity.
To align with these purposes, the collection comes in various weights with varying stretch, breathability and odor management. “Shirt fabric decisions are pretty hard to make because there are so many interesting options,” says Nowak. The only catch? Buyers have to fill out a short survey about their experience after wearing each one.
Nowak says that Ten Thousand is hoping for feedback after a few weeks, but that there’s no defined testing period or deadline to worry about. And the point of this whole effort is, in the end, better products. “Based on that feedback, we’ll make decisions,” he says. That might mean producing one of the four shirts in the pack immediately if it’s well-received, or never if it isn’t. “We’re going to go where customers lead us.”
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