Introducing Thread Studio, Shopify’s First VR App

Daniel Beauchamp
Sep 29, 2016 · 3 min read

Today the VR team at Shopify is excited to launch Thread Studio, our first virtual reality application. It’s currently available for the HTC Vive (with Rift support coming soon).

You can download it for free on Steam.

Thread Studio is a new and interactive way of testing out t-shirt designs. It transports you into a virtual photo studio where you can upload designs and lay them out on mannequins wearing American Apparel shirts.

When you’re happy with how your shirts look, the app can save print-ready files that can be sent to the print-on-demand provider, Printful.

Unlike online shirt customizers that just overlay your image on a 2D photo of a shirt, Thread Studio uses 3D shirts modelled to real proportions, so what you see in VR is what you will get in real life.

And it’s not just shirts. You can even view what your design/logo/brand looks like on a variety of other merchandise.

You don’t think you need a frisbee with your logo on it until you play with one.

But wait, there’s more! What good is a photo studio if you can’t take photos? And what good is taking photos if you can’t dress up your models and put them into all sorts of crazy poses?

This feature surprised us with just how fun it is. At times we’d forget all about the t-shirt designing part, and just spend all of our time putting mannequins in the craziest of poses.

As far as we can tell, it’s one of the first VR applications where you have fine control over the pose of a character. Our approach may not be the best way of going about it, but hopefully it can provide a good starting point for this sort of thing.

We’ll be posting more details on the design of this, along with a lot of other things we learnt with this project. We have a ton to share about Unreal Engine quirks, dos and don’ts with Vive controllers, and challenges with creating a good onboarding experience.

If there’s one takeaway I can give right now, it’s “user test, user test, user test”. I can’t tell you the amount of times we thought something was intuitive, only to find out the complete opposite.

Apologies for not making this a perfect loop.

As was mentioned in our first post, VR and commerce isn’t just about the consumer shopping experience. Thread Studio is a prime example of how VR can be a tool to help merchants conceptualize and bring their products to life.

Even if you don’t have a shirt design in mind, give Thread Studio a try.

Visit the Steam store and download Thread Studio for free.

If you’re excited about what we’re building, hit the 💚 so more people might see this. And if you get a chance to give Thread Studio a try, feel free to share your designs and let us know what you think! 😃