How to Start a Tee Shirt Business - What Do You Need to Get Started?

How to Start a Tee Shirt Business - What Do You Need to Get Started?
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The Business Side

Anyone, male or female, that is the slightest bit artistic, has probably at some point considered starting a tee shirt business. The fashion industry is a very appealing place. Some of the richest brands in the world are fashion lines, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, etc.. So the allure of wealth is definitely there. And where do many fashion designers get their start? By selling tee shirts.

Chances are good great, that you are not going to be the next Ralph Lauren. However, you can make some decent money with a tee shirt business. How to start a tee shirt business? It all begins with a basic business plan. Don’t have a business plan, and you will probably fail. Have a business plan, and you will probably make it for a while. Have a good business plan, and you will succeed and make a lot of money.

Consider the following when creating your business plan: You need to differentiate yourself. These days, every fashion/design major wants to have a tee shirt business. The fashion industry is not a generous place… and any startup can be very unforgiving, if done wrong. A tee shirt business is all about brand popularity.

Know Your Surroundings


Big cities like New York and California are the best places to make it in the fashion industry. Although it’s not impossible to create a successful tee shirt business in a smaller less known city, it’s definitely more difficult. If you are 100% positive, dead serious about starting a clothing line/tee shirt business, you may want to consider moving to a place like NY.

Know Your Target and Know Your Competition

Tee shirt businesses and clothing lines have several different “levels.” For example, a Champion tee shirt vs. a Abercrombie tee shirt. There, you’re looking at least a $40 difference in selling price. Now, take an Abercrombie tee shirt vs. an Ed Hardy tee shirt… there you would have a $30 difference in selling price. Finally, take an Ed Hardy tee shirt vs. a Gucci tee shirt… $200 jump in selling price. The point is, which market are you going to target?

The general population, Champion… maybe Abercrombie?

The middle to wealthy population, Abercrombie to Ed Hardy?


The Rich population, Gucci to Prada?

After you have that figured out, you can determine your competition. You may believe: It’s going to take some startup money to compete with Champion. It’s going to take more startup money to compete with Abercrombie. It’s going to take even more startup money to compete with Ed Hardy. And it’s going to take a whole lot of money to compete with Gucci. In some cases, this is true. However, much of your tee shirt business is going to depend on the next step…

Get a Tee Shirt/Clothing Manufacturer

tee shirt press

This is the most important step on how to create a tee shirt business. Your manufacturer is going to effect your tee shirt business in many ways. The majority of tee shirt companies outsource the actual making of the tees to foreign countries, where it is much cheaper to produce clothing and bulk clothing rates are lower. Is this how you want to manufacture your tee shirts? Out of country? Or do you want your shirts to be “made in: Your Country”?

If choosing to outsource, you will need to find a trusted manufacturer that is within your price range. The goal is to get a good enough quality for a low enough price. It may be time to start networking with people who are already in the fashion industry to try and get some recommendations.

Market and Sell

Once you have your tee shirts made, you have to sell them. Before you can sell them, you need to set prices for each individual shirt, and make sure that you are making a solid profit after overhead costs and manufacturing fees.

Finally, you will need to market for your tee shirt company to spread word of your brand. This will bring you customers.


All of the above information is very general. All points and advice in this article are simple guidelines. People have started clotting companies out of their garage, screen printing shirts themselves, and come to build major clothing labels.

These days, you have tons of options for selling clothing. You could franchise, sell your tees online, etc..