T-shirts are a closet staple for many customers, and choosing a comfortable, stylish, long-lasting shirt is essential. Adding a t-shirt business to your online store also offers a prime opportunity for profits and growth. The global custom t-shirt market was valued at more than 4.3 billion in 2022, and it's expected to grow to more than 9.18 billion by 2030.
Whether you sell t-shirts online or want to update your wardrobe with your own designs, the first step is to understand which types of t-shirts make the highest quality print on demand products. Keep reading to learn how to select the best type of t-shirt for a printed design and which best-selling products are the perfect option for print on demand services.
Cotton and polyester fabrics are the most popular options for t-shirt designs.
Offering a variety of comfortable fits and cuts helps you appeal to more customers.
Some printing options only work well on specific fabrics.
Print on demand services allow you to offer unique printing designs on your ecommerce platform.
When creating print on demand t-shirts, there are several factors to consider. Material, cut, fit, weight, color, and printing methods significantly affect the overall quality and effect of t-shirt designs.
Choosing the right t-shirt material is fundamental in creating stylish and wearable custom products. Although shirts are made from a wide range of fabrics, some of the most common options for print on demand shirts include:
Cotton: Breathable, comfortable, and absorbent, cotton is one of the most popular fabric options for t-shirts. Although cotton is durable, it tends to break down more quickly than alternatives like polyester.
Organic cotton: Organic cotton has all the benefits of regular cotton, but it's softer and more eco-friendly because it is grown without hazardous chemicals. T-shirts made of organic cotton often have a higher price point than non-organic options.
Polyester: Polyester t-shirts are usually light, durable, and less likely to wrinkle, but low-quality fabric may feel uncomfortable on the skin. Polyester is also less environmentally friendly than cotton because it takes longer for the fibers to degrade.
Cotton and polyester blends: A polyester and cotton blend is ideal for athletic wear because it's stretchy and wrinkle-resistant. However, it's less breathable than shirts made with pure cotton and may not be the best option for casual everyday wear.
Keep in mind that certain fabrics limit your printing options. For example, dye sublimation printing, commonly used for an all-over print, is very effective on light shirts made of polyester. In contrast, it's unlikely to succeed on cotton or dark-colored t-shirts.
T-shirts are popular in large part because they're incredibly versatile. No matter your size, shape, or fashion sense, you will likely find a shirt that suits you. When you sell t-shirts through a print on demand company, consider offering these main types of fits:
Regular-fit shirts have classic lines and adequate space through the arms, chest, and sleeves.
Slim shirts fit more snugly across the chest, shoulders, and waist.
Relaxed t-shirts hang loosely across the body and allow for easy movement.
Some fits are better suited to certain types of occasions. For example, a slim shirt isn't bulky, so it's more comfortable to wear under a suit or jacket. Relaxed t-shirts, on the other hand, are a comfortable option for lounging or exercising.
The cut of a shirt is equally as important as the fit. Print on demand services like Gelato accommodates the preferences of all of your customers by offering several cut options:
Crewneck: Crewneck shirts have a classic style with circular, collarless necklines.
Ringer: Ringer t-shirts feature ribbed bands around the neck and sleeves, typically in a different color than the rest of the shirt.
V-neck: Unlike crewnecks and ringers, a v-neck t-shirt has a neckline that dips down into the shape of a v.
All of these cuts and fits work well with printing techniques, and offering several different options on your online store helps ensure that you meet the needs of a broad pool of customers.
The weight of a t-shirt is essential in terms of function and design. Lightweight shirts are better suited for warmer weather, humid climates, and active situations like runs, hikes, or workouts. Heavier shirts, however, are best worn in cold temperatures or casual environments where you're less likely to get overheated.
Print quality also sometimes depends on the weight of the t-shirt fabric. Although light shirts are appropriate for printing, the t-shirt design might not last as long as it would on a shirt made of a heavier fabric. A heavier-weight shirt may be the best option when you want to ensure that your t-shirt print designs will be long-lasting.
The color of the shirt material is another critical component of t-shirt printing. With the wrong color choice, your design might disappear into the fabric. Generally, it's wise to choose a darker shirt color for lighter ink, such as a navy blue shirt with white graphics, or a lighter-colored shirt for dark ink colors, like black text on a pale pink background. This creates a contrast that makes the printed design elements on the shirt clear and visible.
Also, you must consider whether the colors of your design will complement or clash with the color of the shirt. Sometimes, an unexpected color pairing draws attention to the shirt, mainly if it includes abstract or unexpected artwork. However, many shirt designers prefer that the colors complement and have a pleasing overall effect. Decide which option is best for your own shirts or those sold by your business based on your personal style, brand, and target audience.
Different print on demand sites rely on specific printing methods to create custom products. The most common techniques are:
Direct-to-garment printing: Some print on demand companies, including Gelato, use special printers to complete direct-to-garment printing, which allows for fine details, durable designs, and softer finishes than other printing methods.
Screen printing: Also known as silk screening, screen printing methods involve stencils and mesh, making them unsuitable for large and complex designs.
Dye sublimation printing: When creating a shirt with an all-over print, dye sublimation, which requires special liquid dye and transfer paper, is a popular option, but it's only suitable for light shirts.
Heat press printing: The heat press printing process involves placing a piece of transfer paper onto a shirt and applying heat and pressure to replicate the design, but it is somewhat time-consuming and doesn't work well with dark fabrics.
If you manage your own store, finding a printing partner that uses your preferred t-shirt printing method is vital to ensuring that your customers consistently receive high-quality products with the softness and visual effect you expect.
To help simplify the process of finding the best print on demand t-shirts, we've compiled a list of eight options most likely to yield successful results. Consider offering some or all of these shirts through a print on demand business connected to your online store.
When it comes to women's clothing, a crewneck t-shirt is always a crowd-pleasing option. Available in regular fits and standard lengths, these shirts are easy to move around in and have an extra comfy fit. Solid colors are 100% ringspun cotton, while heather colors are 65% polyester and 35% ring-spun cotton. Regardless of your chosen color, these shirts feel soft and have side seams that ensure they retain shape over time. A crewneck t-shirt is an excellent option for casual events and cooler weather because they're made of slightly heavier fabric.
An ultra-comfortable women's v-neck t-shirt is a perfect everyday shirt that always stays in style. Made of 100% combed and ring-spun cotton, solid-colored v-neck shirts have light and soft fabric with high stitch density, allowing for excellent quality prints. The flattering modern slim fit slightly hugs the body, making a v-neck a good option as a base under a button-up shirt for work or wearing jeans or shorts.
A performance unisex crewneck t-shirt works for both men and women. It features a light and breathable fabric that is well-suited to physical activity. It's also moisture-wicking and stretchy, with a regular fit and standard length to keep you comfortable whether you're going for a jog or grabbing some groceries. The high-quality, anti-fading 100% polyester interlock material is durable enough to withstand frequent washes without losing the quality of your printed design.
Customers looking for cold-weather clothing might prefer heavyweight unisex crewneck t-shirts. The color options for this shirt include:
Solid colors made of 100% cotton
Sports grey made of 90% ring-spun cotton and 10% polyester
Other heather colors with 50% ring-spun cotton and 50% polyester
The heavyweight crewneck includes a taped neck and shoulders for increased durability. With a regular fit, standard length, and no side seams, it's great for casual wear and everyday outfits.
Activewear shirts like the poly cotton unisex crewneck t-shirt have moisture management properties and light and soft fabric that moves easily as you exercise. With double-needle-stitched hemmed sleeves and bottom hems, these shirts are highly durable, even during physical activity. Possible blends include:
50% polyester and 50% cotton
60% polyester and 40% cotton
65% polyester and 35% cotton
Each t-shirt blend is available in a regular fit and standard length that fits well on any body type.
A premium unisex crewneck is a timeless shirt that suits every individual style. It has a standard length and regular fit and shape-maintaining side seams. The premium crewneck is offered in these colors and blends:
Solid colors with 100% combed and ring-spun cotton
Ash with 99% combed, ring-spun cotton and 1% polyester
Heather colors with 52% combed and ring-spun cotton and 48% polyester
Athletic and black heather in 90% combed and ring-spun cotton and 10% polyester
The high-stitch density fabric is soft, average-weight, and perfect for showing off amazingly detailed and colorful prints.
Kids love comfy shirts, and the classic kid's crewneck t-shirt is just that. With super-soft and light fabric and a regular fit, this shirt is an everyday essential for school or hanging out at home. The classic kid's crewneck is available in 100% ring-spun cotton solid colors or heather colors made of 65% polyester and 35% ring-spun cotton.
The perfect t-shirt may not make it any easier to keep up with kids on the go, but it does help ensure that they're comfortable along the way. The performance kid's crewneck, made of 100% polyester interlock, is light, soft, and stretchy, making it easy for kids to move while playing sports or participating in their favorite hobbies. Moisture-wicking and anti-fading fabric translate to less time, money, and frustration spent replacing worn-out clothes.
When you buy a new t-shirt or add a print on demand product to your online store, the first step to success is choosing the right material, cut, weight, and printing method. There's not one specific best t-shirt for print on demand services, but certain shirts are much more likely to yield high-quality, comfortable, long-lasting final products that you and your customers will love.
You can turn to a reliable print on demand service like Gelato to create a custom t-shirt for a special event or an entire product line for customers on your online store. Gelato's local, on-demand production allows you to buy and sell shirts competitively, reduce your carbon footprint, and scale up your business over time. Contact Gelato to learn more about how you can create and sell custom t-shirts through your ecommerce business.