This is a loaded question
We’ll break this into a few categories. This is subjective, however as a team who prints tees we have a lot of experience in doing this….
Additionally we are given a ton of garments to trial ourselves, and almost the entire team wear tees most days.
Cheapest T Shirt for Printing.
So what is the Best Cheap T-Shirt?
It is 5 Way Tie with the Two cheapest passable shirts trading equally in price and probably winning the ‘cheap’ award together.
You are looking at reasonable savings over the block tee on our calculator with these first two cheap t shirt options:
1 Gildan 5000
For a decent Colour Range the Gildan 5000 still reigns supreme. Is it a good tee? It is serviceable, it is made of cotton and is a fairly standard cut 180gsm.
It is kind of rough and the print reflects this, it is also prone to defects in the manufacturing. But for the price, you probably aren’t getting anything better in anything remotely close to this colour range!
+ Bonus points for having a ladies and kids style to match (though at a greatly reduced colour range).
– Loses points for having a terribly light black.
2 C-Force Promo Tee
The C Force Promo Tee is lighter than the Gildan above, it has all of the same concerns regards general quality and well under half the colour range.
However the cotton is much finer and the resulting print is much better.
+ Bonus points for printability and deep black.
– Loses points for having a poor selection fo colours.
You are looking at small savings over the block tee on our calculator with these next few cheap screen printing options:
3 Ice Tees
Ice Tees earn their stripes with colour range, not only are they the nicest budget tee with a good colour range across kids, mens and ladies they are significantly nicer than the 5000 at a heavier weight than the C Force.
+ Bonus points for kids, ladies and mens in a great colour range.
– Loses Points for being slightly more expensive than the Jbs tees that has similar strengths, putting this list slightly out of pricing order.
4 Jbs Tees
Jbs have a good tee available, with stock issues in colours outside of the basics. Colour range looks great however it is best to stick to standard colours.
Similar in cut to the Gildan 5000 with a nicer finish that prints better. And a real Black. Come in Kids sizes AND Toddler sizes.
+ Bonus points for writing space for names on kids shirts tags.
– Loses Points for the tag being awful.
5 AS Block Tees
The AS Colour block tee is an entry point T-Shirt, great quality standard fit tee, with the AS Colour tag – These have good retail value, great printing surface and a lovely deep black.
However though it has the basic colours down pat it isn’t as diverse as some of the above and is mens/unisex only.
+ Bonus points for being great to print on and 200gsm.
– Loses Points for lack of ladies or kids style, and lack of colours.
6 AS Basic Tees
This is an attempt to fill the negatives of the block tee, it is much lighter at 160gsm and comes in a Ladies style.
The colour range has many fashion forward options, but misses out on some of the essential basics. It had some teething problems early on but is a great garment to print on.
+ Prints well, high retail value.
– Loses Points for missing some of the essential colours.
Some notable exclusions:
Gildan 64000 – This is similar to the SOL or Loom disasters. Though slightly better, it does shrink and we have some serious quality concerns.
We would recommend swapping to the 5000 if you aren’t fussed about quality but want a Cheap Gildan Shirt. Or using the nicer light weight (though reduced) C-Force Promo tee which is very similar to the 64000.
Gildan 2000 – This is so similar to the 5000 we simply cannot recommend the 2000 given the price difference.
Kmart and The Warehouse – These are almost always awful, they change suppliers all of the time so there is no size or colour consistency and aside from when they are on sale you are usually better off with C-Force or a 5000. We do not print customer supplied garments.
The Best T-Shirt for Printing
Forgetting Price – What shirt prints the best?
Number 1 and 2 on this list are damn near identical for print quality. So we are going to call them equal.
1 AS Colour (excepting Block, which is still great)
Thats not a tee, thats a brand! I hear you say.
Yes, you are absolutely correct, however the majority of their shirts all print exceedingly well. They continue to be the benchmark when people talk about tees.
In particular the Classic, Staple/Maple and Organic Tees are damn near perfect. The Organic Staple or Maple are probably the best t-shirt for printing.
+ Bonus points for essentially setting the benchmark. And the beautiful Organic Cotton tees which are somehow even better.
– Loses points for the block being ever so slightly coarser, though barely noticeable so we are nitpicking here.
It was hard to go wrong here, their first tees were clones of the Staple tee so almost the same.
+ Bonus points for not messing with what works, probably same factory?
– Loses points for range, only talking a couple of styles
Because we are talking print quality here we, not garment quality or cost we have a few more find good to print.
3 AA and Anvil
We are talking print quality only, we would be remiss to ignore these two brands.
Anvil also launched the Black range (which strangely can’t get a dark black) that was literally a rip off of the Staple and Mali tees, these are very accurate clones much like the Cloke tee.
AA quality has taken a dive since the Gildan takeover (much like Anvil) however the cotton surface is still great to print.
Actually one of the first to swap to Bangladesh for the superior cotton, the promo tee is not as nice as the T190.
5 Ice Tees
Great cotton, prints well. More styles than the Jbs.
6 Jbs Tees
Again great cotton prints well.
Some notable exclusions:
Gildan Range – The Majority of these simply do not print that well compared to the Anvil (same company) we would suggest opting for Anvil if you are a Gildan supporter.
Kmart and The Warehouse – Sometimes print ok, sometimes they are awful, constantly swapping suppliers. We do not print customer supplied garments.
Billy – We didn’t feel like the list needed anymore over priced AS Colour knockoffs.
Freeset – We love them, however stock is very strained due to issue with production and shipments from India – Contact us to check if stock is available.
Yet to be formally recognised:
Syzmik – The syzmik tees are basically a higher priced Maple and Staple tee as well. These are actually great printing shirts.
They are excluded from this list at this stage as they have just launched so we really haven’t had a chance to wear or print garments from more than one Batch.
Left Blanc – These have just landed, we haven’t had a chance to test these enough, they are very expensive.
Proclub – We do not supply Proclub, we do recognise these are somewhat popular. In terms of print quality they are slightly nicer than the Gildan 5000.
However the general gist is that the finer and softer the cotton the better it will print, coarse and harsh fabrics do not print well.
Some manufacturers lose points because of consistent lint or fluff on the products which does lead to small imperfections in the print.
The Best Wearing, and lasting Tee shirt
Ideally you want a bit of all of these columns, this one is trickier than the rest, we can definitively judge a garment on printability and price.
Style and Fit is subjective we are going to stick to brands again here and will conclude with the most popular tee shirt (not necessarily the best).
1 AS Colour (In particular the Organic Options)
We primarily recommend the for several reasons.
However they have a major advantage in something like this, purely because they have so many styles.
We have issues with tradies etc not needing top ups for years because of the quality so we cannot fault them here.
But it is the sheer number of styles that sets them apart – They will have a shirt you will love, and that shirt will last.
+ Bonus points for dozens of styles
– Reasonably major loss of points (offset by the huge range) in some styles due to the lack of larger sizes in some styles. Paper tee had stitching issues (has been discontinued).
Almost not included on the list currently, because stock is an ongoing major issue, we can quote but often cannot supply. Is lighter weight so that does mean a shorter lifespan.
+ Bonus points for fairtrade!
– Issues with Stock – Contact us for a quote and we’ll check stock levels.
Reasonable range of styles, Staple and Mali Clones wear similar to their inspirations. These last ok, steer clear of black.
Minimal range of styles at this stage, that do still wear and wash well.
These shirts are fine if you steer clear of the promo tee. Very little choice, decent black.
The Hammer Tee exists and lasts ok, kind of similar to a Proclub tee, light black.
Good basic tee. One style.
Very dated style-wise, shirts are fine.
As mentioned above AS Colour wins out here, excepting the Block which does wear well but is otherwise pretty basic, simply because of the massive range of styles and their deep black colouration – which C-Force does also nail.
The most commonly requested T-Shirt is the Staple from AS Colour, my personal pick is the Organic Staple.
It has also been cloned by Cloke and Anvil, if I were to pick an imposter I would probably go with the Cloke.
Some notable exclusions:
Gildan – The 5000 is just not a great shirt, it will last, maybe not the colour but it won’t fall apart like the 64000.
Syzmik – Not enough wear testing has been done, however it is another rip off of the Staple – Which is super popular (but with a tail), the ice tees seem ok quality wise so you can expect this to be better again.
The Staple tee takes this one out currently, the Classic is also very popular and at 220gsm it will last. However this does mean you could consider any one of the Staple Clones as well.