It’s no secret that branded apparel has an amazingly low cost per impression*. Branded t-shirts are highly used and highly visible. But when you set out to purchase some t-shirts for your staff and loyal customers you are immediately met with a paralyzing choice: among the hundreds of options, which t-shirt should I put my logo on?
* See the 2019 Ad Impressions Study.
How we came up with this list.
We did some research from various garment printers and advertising agencies around the web. We looked for the most commonly recommended t-shirts based on three criteria:
We skew just a little more expensive than some other lists, because we believe that a higher quality garment is worn more frequently, thereby covering its cost with increased impressions. Higher quality garments also last longer, making them more environmentally friendly. It’s a win-win.
The shortlist of best t-shirts.
These are t-shirts we found recommended most frequently:
Pre-shrunk, light weight, and good for both screen and Direct-To-Garment (DTG) printing. We found many recommendations for this shirt; it’s where we would start.
Just a little heavier than above, but a slightly denser weave making it potentially better for DTG printing. This is also a tube design (no seams on the sides), making it good for printing around the side of the t-shirt.
Use Next Level 3900 for women. Very solid his/her’s options that we found widely recommend. Depending on pricing, this could be a great option.
Bonus: Next Level 6410 Sueded Crew
We threw this in because it is super soft and has more of a vintage look. Major cuddle and fashion points.
A few more details.
What kind of print method should I choose?
After you pick a t-shirt, you need to choose between Screen Printing and Direct-To-Garment printing.
Screen printing sits on top of the fabric and is very bright. It’s bold and generally better for fewer colors and designs that aren’t too complicated. Because it takes some set-up, there may be minimum order requirements for screen printing.
The one thing we don’t love about screen printing is that the designs crack over time, making them look decidedly worn out.
Direct-To-Garment (DTG) is our favorite. It prints into the fabric of the shirt, making it look much more natural and helping it last longer. DTG also has less set-up, which means you can print on demand for extra environmental points, and it handles details better. The crispness of a DTG print depends largely on the density of the t-shirt fabric; higher density is better.
Which print companies are best?
There are too many online printers to name, including big players like Vista Print, T-Spring, and Printify. Who you choose is really going to come down to whether they carry the shirts you want to use, and what their price and minimum order quantities are. However, there’s another really cool way to provide shirts to your staff and customers. Read on.
Print-on-demand, right from your website.
This is the nirvana of brand printing. If you use a shopping cart like WordPress + Woocommerce or Shopify, you can create t-shirt designs within a printer like Printful or Scalable Press, and then list those shirts in your own website. When someone orders a shirt, it will be printed on demand (which means no inventory) and shipped right to them. You don’t have to worry about a thing.
The printer will charge you the cost of the shirt, but what you sell them for is up to you. You can do a markup, sell at cost, or provide coupons to make them free to your employees and/or special clients. These printers generally provide additional items such as hats, hoodies, mugs, etc as well.
If you would like help setting up a fully automated, no hassle merch system for your business, please contact Site Savvy. We’ve set several of these up and can do the same for you.
Printing your brand on clothing, both for employees and customers, is an amazing value for brand impressions, especially for small business. As much as possible, include your website on apparel so people can find you. Use an online printer or sell garments right in your website. Talk to us if you need a little help.
Here are a few of the most useful articles we found while researching t-shirts.