The classic t-shirt will forever be the main staple for custom-printed apparel, and for Gooten, it represents the vast majority of garments we print annually. Throughout the delivery process and through the feedback of your customers, we have learned a lot about what people like and dislike and the most popular styles for t-shirts.
With such a wide variety of t-shirts to pick from our product catalog, it’s good to know that not our t-shirts are the same, and not all print jobs are the same. The quality of your products is paramount to your brand and its success, so it’s important to educate yourself and choose your blank shirts wisely. When starting a shirt business online, it might be tempting to sacrifice quality for higher profit margins. But in the grand scheme, you need to consider how the quality will affect a customer’s decision to share your brand and purchase from you again.
Choosing a quality t-shirt encompasses several factors, including yarn, fabric, weight, construction, and fit. Having a basic understanding of how a t-shirt is constructed is the foundation for choosing the perfect tee. Wading through the countless styles today can be overwhelming, but knowing the differences in yarn count, fabric, weight, construction, and fit can help save your print on demand business time and money. A great starting point for determining which blank t-shirt to use is to check out our How To Choose The Best T-Shirt blog for more information on each aspect when picking a t-shirt for printing.
Bella Canvas vs. Gildan
Gildan is a Canadian company with a wide variety of quality clothing in different styles and colors. Their t-shirts are typically made with 100% cotton.
Bella Canvas is a higher quality, more fashionable tee. This company is based out of LA, and they offer great styles, and their shirts are all 100% combed and ring-spun cotton, creating a super soft feel. These shirts are a bit pricier than Gildan shirts but are worth it if you are looking for a stylish fit.
Gildan 5000 and Gildan 2000
The Gildan 5000 is made of 100% cotton and is budget-friendly. It’s a heavy-weight material that will feel a little more structured. However, it won’t feel as soft as the option from Bella Canvas. If you’re looking for a soft t-shirt alternative from Gildan, we recommend the Gildan 2000 model. It’s still a budget-friendly option that provides a softer feel, similar to the Bella+Canvas shirts. The value of the Gildan 5000 isn’t how it feels but that it’s so cost-effective.
Bella Canvas 3001
The Bella Canvas 3001 is also 100% cotton but is instead made of combed and ring-spun cotton that’s significantly softer and smoother. It’s a lightweight material with a more retail-quality feel that will be less structured and drape more fluidly.
One downside of lightweight materials like this is that they can be slightly see-through in light colors like white, ash, and natural. But the upside is a comfortable material with more give and stretch. You shouldn’t be worried about the thinness of the Bella Canvas shirt. White may appear a bit see-through, but it will be fine for all other colors.
When comparing the two
- Fabric: The Gildan 5000 is great for promotional products and workwear. But with its looser weave and tougher fiber (Classic midweight fabric), you will get less “pop” on your print. Most Gildan 5000 shirts are made with 100% preshrunk US cotton, while the sport grey color is made with 90% US Cotton and 10% Poly.
- Fit: The Gildan 5000 is created with double-needle sleeves and bottom hems. It has a standard, generous fit that accommodates the widest variety of body types. It’s made with tubular construction, which means the torso of the t-shirt is made of a single “tube” of material. This also means that it has a wider, looser fit that’s sometimes described as “boxy.”
- Color: It has a huge variety of colors that almost certainly has something for everyone.
- Price: It’s the #1 budget-friendly option, with its availability and price point being why this t-shirt is so popular.
- Fabric: Bella Canvas 3001 is smooth ring spun cotton, and the fabric’s weave is a tighter knit. Therefore providing a flatter surface for the print head to lay down ink. Lines will be sharper, and print will be more vivid.
- Fit: The Bella Canvas 3001 has a more modern cut with higher shoulder seams, shorter fitted sleeves, and a slightly contoured torso. It’s made with a side-seam construction where the front and back panels are cut for a more fitted shape and then joined together to create the t-shirt. Most people prefer this fit, and it’s often a better unisex option. With this in mind, it might not be as accommodating. Typically, you can still order your normal size, but if you’re worried about running small, just go one size up.
- Color: The Bella Canvas 3001 offers a large selection of colors and a greater variety of heathered options. Heathered colors have a subtle speckled look that many prefer over solid colors.
- Price: The Bella Canvas 3001 is a step up from the Gildan t-shirts but cost-effective enough to be a solid go-to for your customers. When people ask for a recommendation for a higher quality and retail-ready t-shirt that will still fit their budget, this is the best option.
Picking the right t-shirt for your business is always a difficult decision! From our experience, when picking a t-shirt, we recommend the Bella Canvas 3001 if you want the best print quality. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, Gildan 5000 and Gildan 2000 is your best bet. Regardless of what you pick, and once you narrow down your choices, we recommend ordering samples to get a product’s true look and feel!