Buying T-shirts in bulk can save you a lot of money. Whether you are purchasing blank wholesale tees to print yourself or you are buying them to outsource the finishing to a third party, you want to make sure you choose high-quality garments at competitive pricing from the right distributor.
You will need to decide which styles and sizes of T-shirts best suit your purposes and which fabric to select. Along with the price, you will want to consider the type of processing you will subject the garments to and how the shirt will hold up. If you are doing a simple tie-dye to the shirts, there will be fewer issues to consider than if you are subjecting the garment to a more sophisticated process, such as silk screen printing, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, or dye sublimation printing.
If you are purchasing blank wholesale T-shirts for your small business, you will need to keep track of the costs of materials and supplies. You will also need to manage your inventory and keep track of sales.
This article provides an overview of different T-shirt styles, outlines the fabric choices available, lists some popular distributors to help you get started researching which distributor best fits your needs, and discusses what you need to know about tracking your wholesale T-shirt and other small business expenses.
Know Your T-Shirt Styles and Sizes
There is a wide selection of T-shirt styles and sizes to choose from. While many men's T-shirt styles are considered unisex — marketed to both men and women — women's sizes form a separate category for the simple reason that they are sized and styled for women and usually will not fit men. The following are some of the most popular styles of men's, or unisex, T-shirts:
- Crew neck T-shirts, considered classic T-shirts, have a round, circular neckline with a snug fit at the neck.
- V-neck T-shirts have a neckline that forms the letter V.
- Y-neck T-shirts — sometimes referred to as the Henley — come with buttons that run down the button of the Y area.
- Scoop neck T-shirts, like crew neck shirts, have a round neckline. The difference is with a scoop neck shirt the neckline is bigger and is designed to fit just below the collarbone.
- Polo shirts are a collared variety of T-shirt adorned with buttons to make them a bit more formal.
How sleeves are fashioned and their lengths are also distinguishing style characteristics. For example:
- Short sleeve T-shirts are the basic T-shirts where the sleeve extends over the shoulder to the middle or lower tricep area.
- Cap sleeve shirts are characterized by a shorter sleeve that extends just below the shoulder.
- With regular long-sleeved T-shirts, the sleeves extend to cover the entire arm up to the wrist.
- T-shirts with long sleeves attached on the diagonal are known as Raglan shirts. These are often associated with the types of long-sleeved shirts that baseball players wear.
- Sleeveless T-shirts, sometimes called tank tops, omit the sleeves altogether.
Women's T-shirts follow the same basic styles and sleeve lengths that take into account a woman's smaller frame and may differ in fit — slim, relaxed, or flowy, for example.
Choosing the Right T-Shirt Fabric
Typically, T-shirts will be made out of cotton, polyester, a cotton/poly blend, or a tri-blend of cotton, polyester, and rayon. Each T-shirt material has its pluses and minuses.
Cotton is a popular option for T-shirts. Not only is cotton suitable for casual, everyday wear, but it is a natural fabric and a renewable resource. Cotton is considered environmentally friendly — manufacturing 100% cotton T-shirts requires fewer chemicals than synthetic materials — and is soft and breathable, so it won't irritate sensitive skin.
Cotton has its downsides, though. Not only are cotton T-shirts usually more expensive than synthetic ones, but the absorbent cotton fabric retains moisture. Because water — including perspiration — does not evaporate quickly, it may be unsuitable for athletic purposes.
There are several different types of cotton to choose from for your bulk T-shirt purchase. For example:
- Organic cotton. T-shirts made from this environmentally friendly fabric are soft and comfortable but can come at a considerably higher cost than other types of low-price cotton.
- Pima cotton. The extra-long fibers in Pima cotton make it durable and soft, but it is also an expensive option.
- Ringspun cotton. Like Pima cotton, ringspun cotton is soft and durable and usually comes with a lower price tag.
- Combed cotton. A smooth, strong fabric, combed cotton is an excellent choice for screen printers.
If you are looking for a T-shirt fabric that will wick moisture away from the skin, then polyester might be a good choice. Although not a breathable fabric — you may actually perspire more when wearing a polyester shirt — the fact that it dries quickly is a plus for people engaging in sports activities or spending time outside in warm climates. In addition, because polyester is a durable synthetic fabric, it holds its shape longer than cotton.
If you are looking for an eco-friendly fabric, however, polyester is not for you. Polyester is not only manufactured with toxic chemicals but it takes a long time to break down in landfills and can end up leaking toxic substances into the environment.
If versatility is what you are after, then T-shirts made from a cotton/polyester blend might work. If you go with a straight 50/50 blend, you will get the best of both worlds: the durability and moisture-wicking that polyester provides plus the softness and breathability that cotton provides. Depending on your needs and how low you want to keep the cost — blends with more polyester and less cotton are cheaper — you can go with a different cotton-to-polyester ratio.
Poly/cotton blends are a great choice for screen printing and other types of finishing operations.
Tri-blend T-shirts — typically a blend of 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon — are another choice that can be attractive to some bulk T-shirt buyers. Rayon is a man-made silk-like material that is derived from cotton and plants. Rayon is breathable but it wrinkles easily, which is why it is combined with other fabric types when used in T-shirts. It takes to dyes, screen printing, and other types of T-shirt finishing well.
Choosing the Right Wholesale T-Shirt Distributor
Once you decide which styles and fabrics are best suited to your purpose, you can begin the search for the best wholesale blank T-shirt distributor for your project or small business. You are going to want to look for T-shirt distributors with a reputation for great quality, competitive wholesale prices, and delivery options that work for you.
Selling wholesale undecorated blank T-shirts is a multi-million dollar industry. Some of the leading brands are:
When comparison shopping for the best price for blank tees, it is always a good idea to take a look at some wholesalers who carry different T-shirt brands, The following are worth checking out:
Skynova Can Help You Run Your T-Shirt Business
Finding the right T-shirt distributor for your small business is an important aspect of making your business a success. Not only do you need to make sure your purchases meet your quality standards, but you also want to get the best price.
With Skynova's small business accounting software, it is easy to keep track of all of your business costs, including your blank wholesale T-shirt purchases. Skynova's business templates make it easy to submit purchase orders and manage all the day-to-day aspects of your business. Create a free account to see all the ways Skynova can contribute to your business's success.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always conduct your own research regarding wholesale purchases for your business and consult with a professional accountant to ensure that your accounting activities comport with applicable accounting standards.