There are many brands to choose from when shopping for blanks for printing of customized shirts. Depending on budget, you may opt for a premium brand, go with a lower-budget option or stick with a standard, middle-of-the-road option. In this article we’ll go into various options, but whichever is chosen, know that prices vary, week to week. This is a two part article. Here is part one:
Distributors For Custom Apparel
Every company that prints and/or embroiders customized shirts purchases their shirts either direct from the mills or from a distributor. Most come from a distributor who acts as a middle-man between the mills and the printer/embroiderer. There are about a dozen of the top distributors in the US, and they work wholesale only. Proof of being a printing or embroidering business must be furnished to the distributor before a company can even get pricing from them. Otherwise deal with an online company that distributes blank shirts, but chances are you’ll pay more, and spend a lot of time shopping
As a diligent printing company, we shop around for our clients, calling all the distributors for the best price on the particular item that our client requests. Each distributor has weekly sales, so we have to call around to find out who has the best deal on the item that our client needs. Once we get the best price, we can order the items and usually get them into our customized shirts printing facility within a day or two. In the case of a backordered item though, it can take longer. Sometimes a lot longer. But that’s the nature of the business.
Choosing a brand for company customized shirts
Ok, here’s what you came for. What brand should be bought for company custom apparel? Here’s an overview of the most popular brands. Keep in mind, it’s all subjective opinion. Just like with any other product, much is subject to interpretation. Some prefer eating steak, some prefer hamburger, some prefer products made by Apple, some prefer Microsoft, and on and on. So let’s take a look at each…
1. American Apparel- “Based in downtown Los Angeles, California. We currently employ approximately 10,000 people globally (about 5,000 in LA), and operate more than 285 retail stores in 20 countries…The company operates the largest garment factory in the United States, at a time when most apparel production has moved offshore. With our recently opened stores in China, we are now selling Made in USA clothing in the largest consumer market in the world.”
This is a premium brand, known for being made in the U.S. The AA#2001 is the unisex t shirt that seems to be their best seller. They offer a tighter fit than many other brands, and people consider them the softest cotton brand. Are they the softest? In my opinion, yes, but the cost will be almost twice as much for this brand. Hanes, Gildan, Fruit of the Loom, or any other “standard” brand will save quite a bit of money. They offer a lot more than t shirts. They have retail stores where one can touch and feel their products as well.
2. Gildan- “Gildan produces Activewear for both the Wholesale and Retail market. Gildan currently produces Hosiery for the Retail market. Gildan’s Wholesale division is the leading supplier of activewear for the screen-print market in the United States, Canada, and Europe… The Company sells T-shirts, sport shirts and fleece in large quantities to wholesale distributors as undecorated “blanks.” These “blanks” are subsequently decorated by screen-printers with designs and logos. Consumers ultimately purchase Gildan labeled products at venues such as sporting events, concerts, and tourism destination gift shops. Consumers might also receive Gildan labeled product in a promotional package at a corporate event or athletic race.”
The Gildan 2000 is a very popular t shirt. It offers a boxier look that the more fitted American Apparel, and many prefer it. Again, it’s all about personal preference. Gildan is cut bigger than AA though, so keep that in mind when choosing sizes. They also offer nice polos that are reasonably priced.
3. Hanes- “Hanes (founded in 1901) and Hanes Her Way (founded in 1986) are brands of apparel currently owned by the HanesBrands, Inc Corporation. The Hanes brand is used by the company for marketing a broad range of apparel essentials…In September 2006, Sara Lee Corporation spun off its branded apparel Americas and Asia business as a separate company called Hanesbrands Inc., which designs, manufactures, sources and sells a broad range of apparel essentials…”
They do a lot of advertising, don’t they? Yes, we see them all over TV with their Michael Jordan commercials, and perhaps because of that, they are a popular brand, but they’ve been around for a lot longer than those commercials. A reputable brand that is cut similar to Gildan, and a safe middle of the road bet.
It’s possible to opt for the Hanes 5180 6.1oz ringspun Beefy T or the Hanes 5280 5.5oz Heavyweight when it comes to t-shirts. Good quality 100% cotton and 50/50 polos are available as well.
4. Fruit of the loom- “Fruit of the Loom was born in 1851 when brothers Benjamin and Robert Knight bought their first mill and started producing cotton cloth and textiles in Warwick, Rhode Island. In 1871, Fruit of the Loom® was registered as an official trademark, making it one of the world’s oldest brands — predating the invention of light bulbs, cars and telephones! Today, more than 160 years later, Fruit of the Loom is now a global underwear and casualwear business, employing more than 32,000 people worldwide. Our colorful T-shirts and underwear are known by consumers in all corners of the globe and our name is synonymous with providing quality, value and style.”
This company is the oldest, but for some reason they are not as well-known to the younger generations as some of the other “hotter” brands. this could be because they stopped doing much of their mass advertising a few years ago. My guess is that they have become so entrenched with the older generations that they don’t think they need to advertise, but that will change when the older generations become…older. The shirts are good quality and I’ve never had a complaint about them. the 3930 is 100% cotton and one of my go-to shirts, especially popular with custom t shirt printing for schools. They also offer nine different polos, both with and without chest pockets.
To be continued…
This article on Customized Shirts was written by Michael Nova.