Which Sell Better: Plain T-Shirts VS. Printed T-Shirts


With printed shirts comes the added expense of screen printing, which leaves many managers and administrators confused as to which style of t-shirt maximizes profits.

Which Sell Better: Plain T-Shirts VS. Printed T-Shirts
Which Sell Better: Plain T-Shirts VS. Printed T-Shirts

It is a debate that continues to fascinate small business retailers: Which sells better: plain t-shirts or printed t-shirts. School administrators and company managers understand why buying printed and plain t-shirts in bulk maximizes the bottom line.

Plain vs. Printed T-Shirts

The more t-shirts you buy, the lower price you pay for each short sleeve shirt. With printed shirts comes the added expense of screen printing, which leaves many managers and administrators confused as to which style of t-shirt maximizes profits.

Pros and Cons of Printed T-shirts

Printed t-shirts make for powerful promotional tools to increase brand awareness in the community. Hand out printed t-shirts at the next civic event to capture the attention of potential customers. Schools and companies also benefit from printed t-shirts by giving away the apparel at industry trade shows. Most styles of printed t-shirts do not undergo a complex production process, which helps schools and companies save money on bulk wholesale purchases. All you need to do is create a design and decide on a printing method. You can opt for a logo to adorn printed t-shirts or go with printing a catchy slogan.

Although some companies have focused on cleaning up the manufacturing process for printed t-shirts, the industry remains one of the largest contributors to world pollution. The primary cause of the pollution is the runoff of chemically dangerous ink, with discarded fabric coming in a close second. Most printing styles do not create t-shirts that last a long time. Finally, printed t-shirts limit the size of the audience you plan to target. The one-message approach to promoting products and services makes printed t-shirts less cost-effective than selling plain t-shirts.

Pros and Cons of Plain T-shirts

Managers and administrators in charge of making bulk apparel purchases should order plain t-shirts over printed t-shirts for one primary reason.


The let’s assume you order 1,000 printed t-shirts for a promotional event. After the event, you have 300 printed t-shirts remaining. Unless you have developed a time machine, you are stuck with 300 printed t-shirts that read “June 24, 2018.” By ordering 1,000 plain t-shirts, you can create unique designs to match specific events. For example, you can use 400 of the plain t-shirts for a specific event. The remaining 600 plain t-shirts are available for future functions. If you run out of the 400 t-shirts printed for one promotional event, you gather information from participants in the event to ship additional specially printed plain t-shirts to schools, companies, and individuals. Plain t-shirts last much longer than the shelf lives of printed t-shirts. This means you can enjoy more savings by placing larger orders for bulk wholesale plain t-shirts.

The only downside of plain t-shirts is the potential for colored t-shirts to fade. However, by buying from a reputable manufacturer, you can add designs to colored plain t-shirts that deliver visually appealing appearances for years to come.

Pricing Plain T-shirts to Maximize Profits

Whether you decide to go with printed t-shirts, plain t-shirts, or a combination of the two short sleeve shirts, the key to making money involves knowing how much to mark up wholesale costs. Small retailers typically sell t-shirts at roughly two times wholesale prices. Because larger retail outlets order more t-shirts in bulk, the retailers enjoy per unit cost savings. For small retailers, plain t-shirts come in four basic wholesale price categories on average.

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