Whether you’re about to start a clothing line, looking for a great way to promote your business or just looking for a way to create some group camaraderie (family reunion t-shirts!), there’s really no better way to get your message across then to print it on a shirt. Chances are, you’ve already decided on the design or message, and then you go to shop for a t-shirt to put it on – and you hit a wall – a wall made of up of an overwhelming number of blank t-shirt options. At Blankstyle.com, we have 1,000s of blank t-shirts for sale — which is great for variety, but can feel a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to settle on the best shirt for you. After eight years of helping people choose blanks for everything from their band to their baseball team, we’ve settled on a few ways to get to the bottom of what you want. Ask yourself these five questions and you’ll find the perfect t-shirt for your project, your budget and your target market.
1. Who’s your audience?
In order to move on to any of the other questions, you’ll need to know who exactly your target audience is. If you’re hoping to print t-shirts for your family reunion, then you’ll spend less time worrying about softness and fit then if you were hoping to sell your t-shirts in a high-end boutique. Some questions to ask yourself: what is the body type of your target market? (This will be important as you factor in the sizes you’ll need.) What’s the gender makeup? (This will impact the fit you choose) And what’s the budget of your audience? How much to do they usually spend on t-shirts?
2. Which Printing Method Are You Going to Use?
The easiest way to weed through the massive amount of different blank t-shirts is to decide on a material, and the best way to narrow down the type of material is to settle on the type of decoration process are you going to use. Here’s a list of four popular decoration processes and the types of materials that work best for each:
When you really want your design to have a high color saturation or you want to print all over the garment – needs a 100% polyester shirt such as the The District® Young Mens Sublimate Tee, which is literally designed for sublimation.
The most popular decoration method works on most materials. We love the 0202 Tultex Mens Fine Jersey V-Neck Tee for great screen printing results at a bargain price.
Direct to Garment
Highly detailed photographic images on dark garments require a 100% cotton such as the MC1040 Cotton Heritage Men’s Newport Beach Crew. If you would prefer to print on light or white garments any fabric makeup will do.
Heavier weight cotton (about at 6.1 weight), but best on a polo shirt. If you must embroider on a T, go with something that has a heavy weight like the 5000 Gildan Heavy Weight.
(One thing to keep in mind is that if your using sublimation or direct-to-garment, you’ll certainly have less t-shirt choices than with screen printing.)
3. How important is softness?
If you’re selling your shirts, softness is king. You can reel them in with your great design, but the next thing they’ll do before pulling out a wallet, is to feel the shirt. If you’re looking for soft cotton tees, then filter your choices to ring-spun cotton shirts. Ring-spun tees are thinner and softer than 100% cotton basics — they’re called fashion tees for a reason — . If you look at t-shirts sold at higher-end boutiques, you’re probably looking at a ring spun tee like the 3600 Next Level Premium Fitted S/S Crew They’ll cost a little bit more than basic cotton but the upgrade is well worth it — particularly if you’re in a band or trying to start your own clothing line.
However there’s another option if you want to pull out all the stops and really wow the folks with softness: a Tri-blend shirt. Tri-blends, are the softest t-shirts you’ll find, and softness comes with a matching price tag. This is where it’s important to have a really solid handle on your audience — can they afford the true softness factor?! We love the TR461 American Apparel –50% cotton, 25% polyester and 25% rayon— it’s seriously the softest t-shirt, you’ll find. It’s definitely the most expensive option.
4. Do you want your blanks to have features that will help you sell your line?
If you’d like to be able to market your line as 100% organic, then obviously, you’ll want to go with an organic t-shirt like 8600 UltraClub® Organic Men’s Ring-Spun Organic Cotton.
But think about other ways you can use your blanks to market your clothing. If you want to advertise your clothing as Made in America, then you want to narrow your choices to brands that manufacture their t-shirts in the U.S. Everyone knows of American Apparel, but there are certainly other companies that make their blanks stateside.
Check out t-shirts from Bayside, Bella Canvas has a made in the USA line of t-shirts, and US Blanks, a t-shirt line in Southern California is another great option.
If you want to start a sports line, look for shirts that provide moisture wicking properties. We particularly love t-shirts made from bamboo fabric, like 1070 Alo™ Bamboo T-shirt, because it is naturally anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic and breathable and there are no added chemicals. It’s a little more expensive, but if you have all of those marketing points, it might be worth it.
5. How should your shirt fit?
This is where you need to have a good handle on the audience that you are targeting. Different people have different preferences when it comes to fit. If your goal is to create a more fashion-forward brand, then you’re most likely going to be looking at more fitted t-shirts. But you should also pay attention to gender when selecting t-shirts. Most women don’t want to just wear smaller versions of men’s shirts — they are going to want styles like rounded or v-necks (We particularly love the deep v of the 6640 Next Level The CVC V).
When you’re looking at fit, think of your intended customer and you might already have a good idea of what you’re going for. But in general, if you’re looking to make more of a fashion line, lean toward fitted t-shirts, or even drapy t-shirts for women (We love the drape of the 6960 Next Level The Terry Dolman). If you’re just making a run of t-shirts for your ultimate freebie team, then you might not worry too much about the fit or the feel and instead choose something based on price like the affordable 5000 Gildan Heavy Weight. Of course, the more fashion-forward your t-shirt (like the 8871 Bella Ladies’ Flowy Open Back T-Shirt), then the pricier your blanks will be.
For a wide selection of t-shirt blanks visit BlankStyle.com.
Amy Azzarito is a Marketing Director for Blank Style.
For additional information on t-shirt blanks view our guide on Picking the Perfect T-Shirt Blank.