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How To Start A Successful Tshirt Business (The Ultimate Guide)

by Sewport Support Team  • July 18, 2024 • 6 min read

starting a tshirt business blue v neck

Starting a t-shirt business can be a great way to springboard into fashion commerce. With the latest garment printing technologies available, designs and branding can be applied at an affordable cost with fast lead times, meaning that with Sewport’s help, you can kick-start your new company quickly and stress-free.

Here, we take a look at some of the most critical points to consider to launch your new t-shirt fashion business successfully.

Find your niche

One of the most fundamental starting points for any business is asking the question ‘What makes your brand different?’ It is relatively straightforward to start a new t-shirt business but how successful it might be, depends on what you can offer customers that is different to everyone else. Finding your niche doesn’t have to involve coming up with some outlandish concept either, as sometimes the simplest of ideas translate into profitable products.

The key is to find a gap in the market, however small and fill it. By providing consumers with products that can easily integrate into their lifestyle, and their wardrobe, you will begin to build the foundations of your brand identity.

Create a brand plan and research your target market

white t shirt you are your own brand

With your initial idea in mind, it’s essential first to narrow down your target market. Once you have selected your intended customer, you can start to generate a customer profile, which outlines their personality, age, preferences, tastes, styles, incomes, social and online activity to help build a real picture of the person you are designing for.

Research is a crucial step in your brand plan and provides you with important data that supports your production and marketing efforts. Whether you are starting small or have big ideas, there are a few elements to include in your brand plan to ensure everything is covered before you take the next step including:

  • Define your reasons for creating your t-shirt business
  • Identify your target market
  • Create short-term and long-term objectives
  • Set out a timeline for your brand and product launch
  • Determine your budget

Price Positioning

When you have decided your target market, you will have an RRP (recommended retail price) in mind that you need to stick to. Therefore, when it comes to fabric selection, design and printing you need to ensure that you are happy with the margins achievable. For example, if you are designing for young people, aged 17 to 20 with a small disposable income; don’t get carried away with a luxurious fabric, which will inevitably drive up the retail price.

Craft your brand designs

design for tshirt preparation

In most cases, you will have a few set designs to start your t-shirt collection. These prints or embellishments should translate well to your target audience and become the identifier for your brand in the market. Creating your signature design should define your brand message, but not be so hard to understand that consumers can’t relate to it. It is always important to ensure that your designs are unique, noting that very often, the most simple of t-shirt designs are the most popular.

With the number of t-shirt designers and new businesses coming into the market every day and the t-s hirt market expected to cross $25 billion by 2025, it is vital that you check imagery and illustrations carefully, as similar styles could prove problematic regarding copyright.

Source a t-shirt manufacturer

With the help of Sewport, sourcing a t-shirt factory to partner with couldn’t be easier. There is an array of choice including manufacturers that can provide full-service production to printing professionals that can handle your design ideas. By using the platform, you can chat directly with suppliers that suit your requirements, and the user-friendly interface allows you to shortlist suitable results based on your initial requirements.

Everything from first contact and quotes to production and payment can be arranged via your dashboard making it easy to bring your products to market whether the factory is based in the UK or overseas.

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Source materials and explore printing techniques

tshirt business design printing

At first glance, t-shirts may all look the same. However, with price tags ranging from £3 to £100’s, you need to consider where your brand sits. Will you manufacture using polyester, 100% cotton or silk? Or perhaps you’ll be a vegan t-shirt brand, using only sustainable, organic fabrics and animal-friendly fabrics. This decision needs to be made early in the process and could affect the types of printing you can opt for later in development.

However you plan to create your designs, you will also need to consider the range of printing processes available to you, depending on your fabric selection. Take a look at our blog about working with t-shirt manufacturers to understand the process of bringing your designs to life.

Further information: A Guide to Working With T-Shirt Manufacturers

Create a tech pack

If you are opting for a factory to produce your branded t-shirts from scratch, communicating the exact specifications and designs is crucial to ensure mistakes are not made on your final product. To translate this information clearly, creating a tech pack will highlight the concepts, fabrics, colours and sizes you require for your collection. Creating a tech pack is a straightforward process, and there are many areas that you should cover to ensure your manufacturer understands your vision.

tech pack making for t shirt

The key elements in a tech pack include:

  • Sketches and descriptions
  • Styleboard and inspiration
  • Fabric placement and garment construction
  • Colour choices
  • Materials list or Bill of Material (BOM)
  • Seam-to-seam measurements

To help you create your own tech pack take a look at our guide – How To Make a Tech Pack and sign up to Sewport and use our handy tools to create one to share directly with t-shirt manufacturers.

Sizes and style range

Something to consider here is whether you will launch with one t-shirt or several. You might have a basic tee and have multiple print designs, or simply alter the colour of the base t-shirt. Deciding this early will allow you to focus on the specifics for launch and budget minimum order quantities (MOQs) for each range.

Decide on your sales funnel

During the planning process, you will begin to identify the best method of selling your product. The high-street may not be a viable option when you initially set up due to the outlay in cost but choosing online-only selling takes time to establish your website amongst the millions of other competitors. Both have distinct pros and cons, take a look at each to help you determine the best sales funnel:

Bricks and mortar store

  • Good store location means better footfall
  • People still like to look at products to determine the quality
  • Customer loyalty
  • Community identity
  • Only available to local markets

Online store

  • Open to global audiences
  • Lower setup and running costs
  • Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Can target consumers more effectively with detailed analytics
  • Supply based on demand

Market your brand

Today, marketing your t-shirt business requires an e-commerce website and a selection of social media platforms. All of these things can be done with a minimal financial investment (into the transactional webpage). Website choices are vast, but for small, start-ups, platforms such as Shopify or Squarespace give users the necessary support to create a professional site, quickly. Using templates, you can speedily put together a small e-commerce site and begin selling instantly, for a small monthly fee.

Obviously, social media is free. Therefore, choose the appropriate channels for your audience and ensure you consistently post engaging content to begin generating interest for your t-shirts. Paid advertising, such as Facebook and Instagram Ads, has proven to be incredibly successful for millions of brands, due to the targeted nature of the advertising. Influencer marketing should also be considered; by sending out a small number of t-shirts to Instagram users with just a few thousand followers, brands begin to see significant social and selling activity.

The next steps for your t-shirt business

Before launching your new t-shirt business, ensure you’ve covered the above bases to give yourself the best chance of success in a fast-paced and saturated market. Sewport can help find the best professional partners to manufacture your products and today’s technology allows you to set your business up in a matter of hours.

Sign up to Sewport and discover how you can take the next steps and start your t-shirt business today!


About the author:

Sewport Support Team is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.