The Complete Guide to T-Shirt Blanks

Ben Buzzard
March 13, 2023
plain tshirts

If you are going to be starting your own apparel company, you are going to need the right garments to be able to do so. This article will try to explain everything you need to know about the different styles, quality, and prices of the different types of garments offered by most apparel decorating companies.

Starting off with the basics of what exactly the t-shirt blanks are, and where print shops get them.

What Is A T-Shirt Blank

A T-Shirt Blank is what it sounds like on the cover. A garment with no print, embroidery, or other embellishments on it. It is a blank canvas ready for you to decorate as you see fit.

The undecorated blank t-shirts are created out of house by apparel manufacturer companies such as Gildan, AS Color, and Bella + Canvas. The manufacturers sell the garments to wholesalers, who warehouse the garments. The wholesalers then sell to apparel decoration companies to customize for the client like you.

Why You Need Them For Your Apparel Business

Depending on what niche you are targeting, the market may be very competitive. So until you get your foot in the door, and have a fanbase behind your clothing line, t-shirt blanks are the most cost effective way to start off.

You are going to need the right shirt base to print on if you are going to be starting your own apparel line. You have a couple different options to choose from, cut and sew, or off the shelf pre-made garments. The majority of custom printed apparel you will find online is of the latter, and this will most likely be the best option for starting off.

In the next sections of this article we will try to help you decide on what style of garment is best for the look you are trying to achieve. Whether that be streetwear, workwear or fashion, there is bound to be a blank that is perfect for you.

How To Choose The Right Blank For Your Needs

Depending on what your target market is, you have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to garment styles. Below we will discuss a number of different fashion styles and the types of garments that may go along well with them.

Streetwear Brands

When thinking about streetwear t-shirt brands, the images that probably come to mind are of heavier weight, oversized shirts, usually something that fits a little more box. Looking at a few popular streetwear brands like KITH, GOLF WANG, and Stüssy, their t-shirts are usually half to one size wider than your standard t-shirt.
As well as the different sizing of streetwear brands, a lot of streetwear has also been migrating toward pigment/garment dyed shirts. Garment dyed shirts is the process of coloring the fabric after it has already been sewn together into its final product. This process gives the shirts a softer feel, and the color of the garment itself is also a more natural vintage look.

There are plenty of garments that fit this, listed below are some of the garments that we recommend.

High End

LA Apparel 1801GD – A High Quality, Heavier Weight, Boxey Garment Dyed Tee.

(6.5oz, 100% Cotton, Garment Dyed, Made in USA, Price-$$$$)

Rue Porter Ultra Luxury Tee 2.0 – A Soft, Ultra Heavy Weight Tee, Boxy Fit With Thick Collar.

(11.5oz, 100% Cotton, Untagged, Made in Portugal, Price-$$$$$)

Upper Range

Made Blanks Major T-Shirt – Extra Soft Feel, Pre-Shrunk, True To Size.

(6.5oz, 100% Organic Cotton, Made in USA, Price-$$)

Comfort colors 1717 – Relaxed Fit, Pigment Dyed, Large Color Selection.

(6.1oz, 100% US Cotton, COO: Varies/Imported, Price-$$$)

Mid Tier

Gildan Hammer T-Shirt – Heavyweight Shirt With A Modern Classic Fit

(6.0oz, 100% US Cotton, COO: Varies/Imported, Price-$)

Hanes Beefy-T – Durable Shirt With A Great Modern Fit

(6.1oz, 100% Cotton, COO:Varies/Imported, Price-$)

AS Colour Classic Tee – A Heavyweight Relaxed Fit Crew neck T-Shirt

(6.5oz, 100% Cotton, Made in Bangladesh & China, Price-$$)

Activewear Brands

Looking toward popular athleticwear brands like lululemon, vitality, and Gymshark, we can notice a trend in their t-shirts. The majority of their shirts are made from polyester blended garments, and are a slim fit style.

Poly blended shirts are a popular choice because polyester, as well as being a very breathable, lightweight, and durable material, it is naturally moisture wicking. This means that it will help keep you dry, while working up a sweat.

The slim fit t-shirt is a popular choice for athletic apparel because it is a more form fitting garment. Having tighter sleeves, a tapered torso, and overall tighter fit, it accentuates a muscular body.



Port Authority

Port & Co


Fashion Forward

If your brand is aiming toward being geared toward a general higher end fashion brand, you’ll want to look toward garments made from softer, lighter weight material. With general fashion brands you have a lot of options as well, especially for womens clothing, crop tees, racerback tanks, and a multitude of t-shirt and hoodie variations. The shirts used in fashion brands are quite often a tri-blended garment, as they are a softer low-shrinkage garment. 

These are our top selling shirts for fashion brands.

Bella Canvas 3001

Next Level 3600

As Colour

American Apparel

Workwear Garments

If you are going to be marketing toward the more industrial side of the market, think truckers, mechanics, construction, and manufacturing. Garments for these trades are usually a more durable, thicker garment that can hold up to a lot of abuse from the elements and wear and tear from the harder lifestyle of those in these fields. A trend in the workwear field is the pocketed tee, that allows for easy access to pens and paperwork. T-Shirts are usually 100% Jersey Cotton, and button down work shirts are usually a blended twill fabric of polyester and cotton. Some of the most popular workwear shirts are listed below.


Red Kap

Port Authority

Port & Co


Other Things To Keep In Mind

Beside looking for a garment that looks good and something that you think will fit your brand well, there are other options that need to be considered before purchasing. What print style are you using, how much are you willing to spend on the blanks, and others. In this section we will discuss what to keep an eye out for.

Fabric Type and Print Style

Each of the three major types of print styles has garments that they work well with, and garments that would be disastrous if used. If you are looking for a plastisol print then you are in luck, as plastisol inks has the widest variety of garments that it can be printed on. If a low/no feel option sounds better for you, then you will most likely want to go with either a discharge or water based print.

There are some caveats that go along with discharge and water based inks.

Discharge inks only work well on garments that are either 100% cotton or have a 100% cotton facing. This is because discharge ink essentially bleaches the dye out of the fabric of the shirt, this can only be done on the cotton portion of a garment. In most cases, if a garment is made of a blended fabric (e.g. 50% cotton 50% polyester), the garment will not discharge properly. When this happens, best case scenario the print will be less vibrant, worst case scenario the garment discharges to a color other than white/gray and it will alter all of the colors in the design.

Water based inks work best either on lightly colored garments, or when you are looking for a more vintage washed/out look to the garments. As water based inks are more transparent due to the lack of PVC in the ink to help block the color of the garment showing through. A water based print will take on the hue of whatever garment it is being applied to.

Garment Colors

Another important property of apparel that is often overlooked is the color variations of garments. A number of businesses like to stick to one garment manufacturer or even one style of garments for brand uniformity. If this is something that you would like to do, it is important to look at what color variations are offered by that brand or garment style. Though the majority of manufacturers have dozens of different color options for each of their garments, some others may only have ten or so options to choose from.

So if you plan on offering a rainbow of different colors options in your store, it is important to double check the color options offered before you start your first order.

Brand Uniformity

As we touched on in the last section, brand uniformity is also an important factor to look at. If you wish for your apparel to have a consistent quality and feel to them it is recommended to find one manufacturer that you like and stick with their offerings. This is because brands will usually have a consistent quality between each of their styles. If you switch between a higher quality brand and lower one, your customers may end up purchasing the higher quality garment first, and on a subsequent purchase get the lower quality garment and feel duped.

If you do wish to offer some higher quality garments than your normal, we would recommend that you list the garments with a key work to specify this difference such as “Premium”

As you can see, there are a lot of different options that you have to choose from when it comes to t-shirt blanks. If you need any help figuring out what style of garments is right for you, our customer service team is ready and able to help you make an informed decision.

Ben Buzzard
Last Updated:
April 4, 2024