T-shirt fabric dilemma – Which should I choose?

Posted on April 26, 2018

By Dean Schwartz (SWAG Master): Branded t-shirts are an incredibly popular promotional product. There are tons of different brands, qualities, and styles of t-shirts. Today we are going to focus on t-shirt fabric specifically.

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of fabric choices on the market, and that is great! But all the options can make choosing a shirt overwhelming. T-shirt SWAG is important to us, so here is a quick overview to help you pick the right t-shirt fabric for your needs.

T-shirt Fabric Guide

100% Cotton – Your basic, least expensive option is 5.3 oz, but a 6.1 oz option is also available. Use the heavier weight for sports teams or if the end customer needs them to be a bit more durable. 100% cotton will shrink a bit, especially when dried on high heat. We recommend Gildan shirts but other brands, such as Fruit-of-the-Loom, Hanes, Jerzees, and Anvil are equally comparable. Usually, we will recommend whatever shirt is the least expensive at the time of order.

100% Cotton

– 100% Ringspun Cotton – If you are looking for a softer, more fashionable fit, then 100% ringspun cotton is the way to go. These shirts can be printed using discharge inks which gives the imprint a lighter and softer feel. If the price is your top concern, then we usually recommend Tultex brand. If you have a larger budget, then our next option is Next Level. Need the best styling and quality available? Alternative Apparel and Bella (for the ladies) are our top picks.

Ringspun Cotton

– 50/50 Poly/Cotton Blend – Poly-cotton shirts are great and they are usually softer than 100% ringspun cotton tees. They don’t shrink as much and the colors also don’t fade as much as the previous options. Gildan makes a more cost-effective option, although it is not nearly as soft as the Next Level and Alternative Apparel options.

Poly/cotton blend

– Tri-blend – If you are looking for that shirt you can be buried in, tri-blend is definitely the right choice. Made up of 50% cotton, 25% polyester, and 25% rayon makes this the softest of the choices we outlined. Due to their material composition, the color choice always comes in heather (that gym shirt look) and they cannot be discharged. However, you can use water-based ink for that soft feel. This is the most expensive of the options, but they will likely be your favorite t-shirt. Next Level, Bella, and Alternative Apparel offer great tri-blend options.


Check out our men’s and women’s t-shirt line up to see all of our choices. Even with this guide, we know all these choices can still be overwhelming. Give SOBO a call 888.752.0432 or email info@soboconcepts.com for assistance. SWAG with style!

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