Shirts are sourced and sewn all over the world. The US is one of the leading producers of cotton. However, the largest producers are China and India who together produce 31% of the world’s fiber. In total more than 100 countries produce cotton worldwide.
The sewing or construction of garments vary depending on the brand. The largest apparel companies primarily sew offshores while recently many US companies have moved sewing back, mostly in California. This is great news as many companies are moving toward fair wage apparel creation with brands like Bella + Canvas leading the charge.
Unfortunately, underpaid production and slave labor is still very common in countries outside the US. This is why we recommend choosing a US company for your apparel sourcing!
One of the most common requests we get is “I want a good quality t-shirt that is not too expensive”. Unfortunately like most things in life, you get what you pay for. We have some options to recommend that will offer a decent quality that are affordable and some brands that are premium quality that will cost a little extra.
The first step in apparel sourcing is how the blank tee fits. Depending on your customer base or demographic, the way the shirt fits should dramatically influence your choice of brand. You want people to actually wear your shirt right?
It’s important to gauge the consumers wants and needs and use that knowledge the right way. The easiest way to break this down is by interest and age group. The most commonly sold shirts for a younger demographic – 35 and younger is the fashion cut blank. Most traditional and old school brands such as Gildan, Hanes and Fruit of the Loom are going to have a more standardized fit that’s a bit wider and more boxy. These brands are also typically made out of a cheaper material or carded cotton which is a bit rougher than an ultrasoft fashion blank. Again, it’s super important to know your customer and understand their wants and needs to source the proper brand.
Commonly used fashion blanks include Bella + Canvas, Next Level Apparel & American Apparel just to name a few. We understand pricing can be one of the most important factors. Just remember that it’s important to understand what brands you work with and why the prices cost what they do.
Knowing why & how a brand maybe cheaper than another is important to. There are still many brands that are mass producing apparel and not providing a living wage to the ones making it. There are also horrible consequences to the environment when mass amounts of cotton are produced due to the water consumption and pesticide usage. It takes over 500 gallons of water to produce just one conventional cotton shirt. Over ⅓ of the garment weight is the amount of chemicals used to treat the cotton. If the environment is important to you then there are some great sustainable and eco friendly options out there. It just takes a bit of reading up to decide who's best for you.
Below are links to a few choice brands stances on things like Employee pay, Sustainability & the Environment.
- Mission Statements -
AMERICAN APPAREL: Sustainability
INDEPENDENT TRADING COMPANY: Social Responsibilities
There are several places where you can purchase wholesale or bulk rate T-shirts. Most apparel distribution companies allow you to set up a wholesale account if you are a legitimate business in the apparel market. The first step is to provide your resale or tax ID number and follow the proper steps outlined by each company.
Garment wholesalers will offer you wholesale rates once you are an approved vendor (saving you $$$). However, typically your rates are determined by the volume that you order. Since most startup clothing brands do not yet order large volumes, its common to use your screen printer to order the goods for you. Shops like us order tens of thousands of blanks per year and are usually able to leverage that to get you the best prices available.
We are proud partners with distributors across the country. If you've got a favorite shirt and you'd like to source those blanks for your next job, that's no problem. Just let us know what you're looking for and we'll do our best to make it happen.