In the world of Print-On-Demand (POD), there’s a question that often hovers in the minds of new and experienced merchants alike: “Which t-shirt brand should I sell?”
As a seasoned POD merchant, I’ve had my fair share of trials, errors, and triumphs, experimenting with these brands. I’ve seen the joy in customers when they receive a t-shirt that exceeds their expectations and felt the disappointment when a product doesn’t live up to its promise.
In this article, I’ll dive deep into the specifics of Bella Canvas and Gildan, comparing their material quality, comfort, price, and more. I’ll also explore real customer feedback and my own hands-on experience to help you decide which brand aligns best with your POD business’s vision and goals.
I think you’ll be surprised by my favorite and the one I sell in my stores.
Bella & Canvas Profile
Established over 25 years ago, Bella & Canvas boasts exceptional craftsmanship and soft fabrics, becoming a go-to brand for top-tier brands all over the world.
The company’s fundamental approach is designed to be simple; it believes in sustainability, simplicity, and the importance of transparency in the industry.
As a result, Bella & Canvas employs a rigorous evaluation process when choosing factory partners for their manufacturing process, based on quality, price, speed, and shared vision of social and environmental responsibility.
Their cutting and dyeing services operate out of Los Angeles, while factory partners throughout Central America complete the final steps of production.
Bella & Canvas is committed to continuous environmental and social improvement, with a team dedicated to bettering the workplace environment for employees and the surrounding communities.
By designing, dyeing, and cutting all of its garments at its headquarters in Los Angeles, Bella+Canvas ensures virtually zero waste in its production process.
The company uses solar-powered and paperless warehouses, and efficient dye machines that use 7x less water than the average clothing manufacturer.
Gildan Activewear is an American-owned Canadian manufacturer of branded clothing, established in 1984 by Glenn and Greg Chamandy. Originally focused on producing 100% cotton T-shirts for screen-printers to decorate with designs and logos, the company has since diversified its offerings to include branded and private label athletic, casual, and dress socks.
Today, Gildan is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated apparel manufacturers, with approximately 44,000 employees worldwide and a presence in low-wage countries like Honduras and Haiti.
The company has made significant strides in ensuring responsible apparel manufacturing, sourcing sustainably grown cotton, improving its energy and water use, and providing fair wages to its workers.
Gildan has received several recognitions and formed partnerships that attest to its commitment to sustainability, making progress toward a future of circularity, transparency, and respect for the environment, communities, and people.
Gildan boasts of their textile clippings recycling, as they recycle 100% of textile clippings from their cutting and sewing operations. Furthermore, 39% of their energy comes from renewable sources.
What To Consider When Picking A T-Shirt
I delve into the various factors you need to consider when picking a t-shirt for your print-on-demand business, from finding the suitable material and fit, to selecting the perfect design elements that resonate with your target audience.
By taking these considerations into account, you’ll be one step closer to creating a product that stands out, sells well, and leaves your customers feeling like they’ve found their new favorite tee. So, let’s explore what truly makes a great choice.
Whilst you may feel a $1 difference in the cost of a t-shirt isn’t much, when you’re selling thousands of t-shirts, $1 extra profit per t-shirt becomes very significant.
You need to look at your competitor’s pricing of the t-shirts they sell. Can you make 30%+ after all fees and costs on the t-shirt whilst selling at a similar price to your competitors?
When selecting the perfect T-shirt material for your print on demand business, it’s important to consider the various types of fabrics available.
Cotton is a popular choice, as it is strong, affordable, and ideal for printing. However, there are different ways cotton can be made including regular, airlume combed and ringspun cotton.
Each type offers a unique level of softness and durability, with ring-spun combed cotton being the highest in quality.
When selecting a t-shirt for your print-on-demand business, the fit is an essential factor to consider. Remember, your customers come in various shapes and sizes, and the fit can remarkably impact their overall satisfaction. Unisex t-shirts are generally a safe bet, as they cater to both men and women.
It’s good to research your target market and observe the types of t-shirts they already wear, as well as the brands in high demand that your competitors sell.
Keep in mind that the right garment should find a balance between being soft and comfortable, without compromising on quality or affordability.
Niche & Target Customer
Your niche & target customer can have a bearing on the shirt you should choose. If you are selling in an active male-based niche then the BC 3001 unisex jersey t-shirt is unlikely to be the right choice as it isn’t as hardwearing as the Gildan 2000 or Gildan 5000.
The reverse is true if you are selling in a more feminine fashionable niche you may find the softest shirts would be a better choice.
While manufacturers offer similar color ranges, print-on-demand suppliers don’t stock the same range of colors across all brands of t-shirts. Make sure you check that the colors you want to sell are available with your print-on-demand supplier of choice.
If you need heather colors, they aren’t available across all t-shirt variants so be sure to check.
You will see below that not all print on demand companies offer all variants of shirts even though both Bella and Canvas and Gildan are market-leading brands.
Check to see that your POD supplier offers the shirt you want to sell.
The 4 T-Shirts
The Gildan 2000 is also known as the Gildan Ultra Cotton.
Material: The Gildan 2000 tee is made from 100% cotton, providing a traditional, classic feel.
Its pre-shrunk fabric ensures minimal shrinkage over time, maintaining the original size and shape after many washes. For those seeking a bit of flexibility in the fabric, the Gildan 2000 also comes in a version with a small percentage of polyester in certain colors.
The fabric weight is a sturdy 6.0 oz per square yard, which adds a sense of durability and longevity to the t-shirt.
Fit: The Gildan 2000 is characterized by a classic fit, offering a more generous, roomy cut compared to slim or fitted t-shirts.
This makes it a comfortable option for a wide range of body types. The sleeves are mid-length, providing ample coverage without feeling restrictive. It also features a seamless double-needle 7/8″ collar, double-needle sleeve and bottom hems for added durability.
The shirt’s structure is well-maintained without being overly stiff, giving the wearer a sense of comfort and freedom of movement.
In essence, the Gildan 2000 is a reliable, no-frills option that delivers solid performance and durability.
- Printful – N/A
- Printify – US: $8.85
- Gelato – N/A
- Printful – No
- Printify – Yes – 60 Colors
- Gelato – No
The Gildan 5000, is also known as the Gildan Heavy Cotton t-shirt.
Material: The Gildan 5000 is crafted from 100% cotton, delivering a soft, natural feel that many users appreciate.
Its fabric is pre-shrunk, minimizing shrinkage during washing and maintaining the shirt’s original dimensions over time. Like the Gildan 2000, certain colors of the Gildan 5000 also come with a small percentage of polyester blend. The fabric weight stands at 5.3 oz per square yard, which is slightly lighter than the Gildan 2000, but still provides a solid and durable surface for printing.
Fit: The Gildan 5000 features a classic fit that isn’t too snug or too loose, providing a comfortable and relaxed feel.
This versatile fit appeals to a wide range of body types, making it a popular choice for POD businesses. Despite its robust construction, the shirt maintains a good level of flexibility, allowing for ease of movement.
The Gildan 5000 presents a valuable option for those seeking a balance of quality, comfort, and affordability. Its slightly lighter weight compared to the Gildan 2000 makes it a versatile choice for various printing needs and customer preferences.
- Printful – US: $9.25 UK: £8.17
- Printify – US: $7.39
- Gelato – US: $10.10 UK: £10.57
- Printful – Yes – 24 Colors
- Printify – Yes – 70 Colors
- Gelato – Yes – 10 Colors
The Gildan 64000, is also known as the Gildan Softstyle.
Material: The Gildan 64000 is made from 100% ringspun cotton, which is softer and smoother than regular cotton due to the spinning process that straightens and thins the cotton fibers.
It’s pre-shrunk and the fabric weight is 4.5 oz per square yard, which is lighter than both the Gildan 2000 and 5000, making it a more lightweight and breathable option.
Fit: The Gildan 64000 offers a more modern, slightly fitted cut compared to the classic fit of the Gildan 2000 and 5000.
This tailored fit gives the t-shirt a contemporary look and feel, often preferred by a younger demographic. The sleeves and bottom hems are also double-needle stitched, adding to the shirt’s overall strength.
- Printful – US: $9.25 UK: £8.17
- Printify – US: $7.19
- Gelato – US: $8.78 UK: £7.70
- Printful – Yes – 5 Colors
- Printify – Yes – 41 Colors
- Gelato – Yes – 11 Colors
Bella & Canvas 3001
The Bella + Canvas 3001 is a premium t-shirt option in the print-on-demand market, renowned for its softness, stylish fit, and superior print quality.
Material: The Bella + Canvas 3001 t-shirt is made from 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton, which is known for its exceptional smoothness and comfort. The process of combing and ring-spinning removes impurities and irregularities, resulting in a soft, clean, and highly uniform fabric that is ideal for printing.
Certain colors of the Bella + Canvas 3001 are also available in a blend of cotton and polyester. With a fabric weight of 4.2 oz per square yard, it’s a lightweight and breathable t-shirt, perfect for everyday wear.
Fit: The B&C 3001 t-shirt offers a retail fit, which means it’s designed to fit like the shirts you’d typically find in retail stores. It’s more fitted than a classic or traditional t-shirt, with a slim-cut silhouette that contours the body.
It also features side seams, which help the shirt maintain its shape and offer a structured look. The sleeves are fitted, and the t-shirt features a unisex sizing system, making it a versatile option for a variety of body types.
In summary, the Bella + Canvas 3001 t-shirt is a top-tier choice for print-on-demand businesses looking for a premium, retail-quality product.
- Printful – US: $11.50 UK: £10.59
- Printify – US: $9.96
- Gelato – US: $11.85 UK: £9.97
- Printful – Yes – 51 Colors
- Printify – Yes – 100 Colors
- Gelato – Yes – 9 Colors
Bella Canvas 3001 Vs Gildan 2000
Bella Canvas 3001 Vs Gildan 5000
Bella Canvas 3001 Vs Gildan 64000
Bella Canvas & Gildan Alternatives
Stanley Stella t-shirts are known for their high-quality, stylish designs that are also eco-friendly. The brand places a strong emphasis on sustainability, using only organic fabrics and minimizing their environmental impact in every stage of production.
The Stanley Stella Creator comes in a little more expensive than the BC 3001 but given its eco credentials and higher quality, it can often achieve a higher price point.
The brand isn’t as readily available as BC or Gildan t-shirts. If you’re in the UK, Inkthreadable offer a wide range of Stanley Stella shirts.
Overall, Stanley Stella t-shirts are a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality, eco-friendly fashion option that is both stylish and sustainable.
American Apparel t-shirts are known for their quality, durability, and unique designs. Made with 100% cotton and a tight-knit construction, these t-shirts offer a comfortable fit that is both soft and breathable.
They come in a wide range of colors and styles, from basic cotton crewnecks to trendy crop tops and off-the-shoulder designs.
From a price perspective, the Amercian Apparel shirts tend to fall between the Gildan 5000 and the BC 3001.
My favorite shirt is the Gildan 64000. It offers the right mix of value, softness, and quality. I’ve bought samples of all four shirts and my Gildan 64000 is the one I wear the most.
My customers love the softness. When a customer has bought one of my Gildan 5000 shirts and a Gildan 64000 they often complain about the 5000 due to its rough feel.
I moved away from selling the BC3001 due to the high price and the thinness of the material. I just dont think it feels premium enough to justify the price.
What are the two most popular t-shirt options for print-on-demand stores?
The two most popular t-shirt options for print-on-demand stores are Gildan 5000 and Bella Canvas 3001.
What is Gildan 5000?
Gildan 5000 is a t-shirt made of 100% preshrunk cotton often called Gildan 5000 Heavy Cotton t-shirt
WHAT IS CANVAS 3001?
Canvas 3001 is a soft, lightweight t-shirt made of 100% combed ringspun cotton.
WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING BETWEEN GILDAN AND BELLA CANVAS?
When choosing between Gildan and Bella Canvas, you should consider factors such as price, availability, color options, design and color quality, and fabric feel.
Are Gildan t-shirts looser or tighter than Bella Canvas t-shirts?
Gildan 5000 and 2000 t-shirts typically fit looser than Bella Canvas 3001 t-shirt.
Are Gildan and Bella Canvas t-shirts made of the same type of cotton?
No, Gildan t-shirts are made of 100% preshrunk cotton while Bella Canvas t-shirts are made of 100% combed ringspun cotton.
Which is better, Gildan or Bella Canvas?
It ultimately depends on your personal preference and specific needs. In terms of quality, many people prefer Bella Canvas t-shirts for their softness and flattering fit but some say its very thin.
However, Gildan offers a wider variety of colors and is often more affordable.
Do Bella Canvas t-shirts cost more than Gildan t-shirts?
Yes, generally Bella Canvas t-shirts are more expensive than Gildan t-shirts.