Call it American Idol for T-shirts.
South Florida native Erica Zohar has teamed with a group of partners, including singer Jennifer Lopez, to launch Teeology, an online T-shirt ecommerce site that allows members to vote on their favorite designs before they are produced and made available for sale.
“I think it’s going to be a game changer in the retail front,” said Zohar, 41, who lives in Los Angeles but grew up in Coral Gables, graduated from the University of Miami and recently joined its alumni board. “Retail has always been a guessing game, hoping people will buy what the buyers have picked. We have low risk because we only produce what the members of our site want.”
Founded in March, teeology.com went live three weeks ago, selling limited-edition T-shirts for men and women, priced from $20 to $45. The site offers a line of 100 percent Pima cotton “Premium Basics,” along with its “Winning Tees,” — the T-shirts that have garnered the most member votes. New designs are also featured for members to vote on. The T-shirts are designed by graphic artists from all over the world who have responded to open calls for designs. Each winning designer gets his or her name on the label and earns $500, said Zohar, Teeology’s chief creative officer.
The T-shirts are manufactured in various countries. “What sets us apart from other sites is we are offering very fashion-forward body styles and also fashion-forward prints,” she said.
Teeology combines the apparel background of Zohar — whose father is Dr. Herbert Wertheim, a prominent Miami entrepreneur and philanthropist — and the ecommerce expertise of Brian Lee, who founded such sites as LegalZoom.com and ShoeDazzle.com. Three years ago, Zohar sold her fashion business, American Groove, which developed private label programs for department stores. She then spearheaded the “Bebe for 90210” collection, which allowed viewers of the CW television show to buy clothing worn by the characters on the show in real time.
Now, with Teeology, she is mixing in the celebrity cachet of Jennifer Lopez — who performs with Enrique Iglesias at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday and Saturday. Lopez, who was an American Idol judge and who serves as Teeology’s chief curator, brings charisma to the site, rocking Teeology tees.
She was recently back home in Miami from LA throwing a fete for her fashionista fans at the Shore Club Penthouse. “I really think for the value you are getting really cool shirts,” said Zohar. “No one can believe they’re so inexpensive. They don’t look it.”
Staff writer Maddy Marr contributed to this report.