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You’ve just bought a cute new top for $20! Ever wondered why the difference between retail and manufacturing prices is so great? How much does it cost to make a T-shirt? For what exactly are you paying? There is no simple response because it varies.

Recall your most recent shirt-shopping experience. What made you decide to purchase it? Did it fit right? The layout? The cost? Price is typically the deciding factor for most people.

To help you with your demands. Now let’s dissect it. It can be challenging to know who to support when so many significant questions are racing through our minds. How much does a shirt cost?

How Much Does It Cost to Make a T-Shirt?

Cost To Make A Shirt

How much does the average shirt cost? That response could surprise you. The average cost of producing shirts is between $0.50 and $3.00. The remaining $7 to $9.50 is allocated to merchant markups, marketing, shipping, and brand.

The largest expense is usually the blank t-shirt itself, called a “blank”. A standard cotton t-shirt blank costs $1 to $3, depending on quality. Additional costs include:

  • Screen printing and embroidery of patterns and logos run between $0.50 and $1.50 per shirt.
  • Cutting, sewing, and assembly costs to make t-shirts range from $0.25 to $0.75 per shirt.
  • Approximately $0.25 was spent on each shirt for packaging, labeling, and shipping preparation.
  • Transportation of the shirts between manufacturing facilities, adding $0.05 to $0.25 per shirt.

The total cost to produce a basic t-shirt is typically between $2 and $5.50. The brand then marks up the price two to five times to cover marketing and make a profit. By the time it reaches stores, the price has gone up to $10 to $30 per shirt. Fast fashion brands can keep costs low due to high volume and cheap overseas labor. 

Of course, higher-quality shirts with unique details or made of premium fabrics will cost more to produce. But in general, there is a huge markup on t-shirts, from the manufacturing cost to the retail price. So the next time you shop, consider if the brand name or latest trend is worth the premium. You may find greater value in high-quality, ethically-made essentials.

Building a More Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Future

As customers, we can influence change, even though the fashion industry still has a ways to go before it becomes ethical and sustainable. We can influence how fashion develops in the future by choosing wisely and holding companies accountable for increased openness.

Buy Less And Buy Better.

Fast fashion thrives on overconsumption. Make a habit of buying only what you need and choosing higher-quality, long-lasting pieces. Look for natural, sustainable fabrics and well-constructed garments. Support brands with ethical practices. When possible, buy secondhand clothing. This reduces waste and environmental impact.

Demand Transparency 

Put pressure on brands and retailers to disclose how and where their products are made. Ask about labor practices, wages, and environmental policies. Buy from companies that pay fair wages, don’t use sweatshops, and take responsibility for their environmental footprint. Your dollars and voices have power.

Repair And Recycle

Instead of throwing away damaged or old clothing, have them repaired, repurposed, or recycled. Donate used clothing to charities or take part in clothing swaps.

Building a sustainable future for fashion will require a collective effort. We can all contribute to improving how to start a t-shirt business and lowering the genuine cost of t-shirts by being conscientious consumers and exercising our influence.

How Much Does It Cost To Make And Print T-shirts?

Cost To Make A Shirt

The actual cost of making t-shirts is sometimes significantly lower than what buyers pay at retail. Let’s dissect the fundamental costs associated with making a typical t-shirt.

Particularly when bought in bulk, raw materials such as cotton cloth and blends like polyester or rayon are reasonably priced. The fabric and trim for a simple t-shirt typically cost one to three dollars per shirt. Most suppliers only incur an additional $1 to $2 in labor costs for the clothing manufacturing process, which includes cutting and sewing the parts together.

Screen printing designs and logos onto the shirts is also very affordable, often less than $1 per print for high-volume orders. Digital printing methods like direct-to-garment allow for high-quality, multi-color prints at a marginally higher cost of $1 to $3 per shirt. Adding custom neck labels or size tags may tack on another $010 to $0.50 per item. 

The remaining balance of the retail price covers overhead costs for facilities, equipment, shipping, and profits for the various companies involved in the supply chain. For a t-shirt that ultimately sells for $20 to $30, the base production costs of $3 to $8 represent just 15–40% of the final price.

The t-shirts featuring premium, name-brand fabrics, intricate designs, or licensed images and logos will cost significantly more to produce and retail at a higher price point.

Is It Profitable To Make T-shirts?

Cost To Make A Shirt

Depending on your strategy, producing t-shirts can be financially rewarding. If you’re producing high volumes of basic shirts using cheap materials and labor, you can generate a good profit margin. However making more ethical, sustainable, and high-quality shirts can prove to be more difficult financially.

Take into account the following elements to evaluate whether producing t-shirts will be profitable for your company:

  • Cost of materials. The fabric and dyes used significantly impact costs. Cheaper materials like basic cotton and synthetic dyes reduce costs but often lack quality. More sustainable options like organic cotton or natural dyes are pricier.
  • Labor expenses. Where and how much is it to make a shirt? Fast fashion brands frequently use overseas factories with cheap labor and poor working conditions to cut costs.
  • The scale of production Large volumes mean bigger bulk discounts and cheaper per-unit costs.
  • Target audience. The audience you’re selling to determines how much you can charge. Fast fashion brands targeting budget-conscious consumers need to keep prices low, reducing potential profits. Brands selling premium, eco-friendly shirts to socially conscious customers can set higher price points, boosting profits.
  • Additional costs. Don’t forget overhead costs like design, shipping, marketing, and returns.

By focusing on sustainable, ethical production and building a loyal customer base, t-shirt brands can find financial success and make a meaningful impact.

The Nine Elements Influencing T-Shirt Prices

Making personalized shirts is expensive, depending on several important factors.

1. Order Quantity

When calculating your cost per item, one of the most important elements is the size of your order or the total number of pieces. 

All print firms include volume discounts in their pricing; the specifics of the reduction, such as the percentage and the location of the price breaks, vary.

Print-on-demand (POD) is the uncommon exception; they are typically single-piece orders or modest volumes. To save on setup costs associated with screen printing, these orders are priced similarly to retail and printed digitally. Unless stated otherwise, the same cost you may incur from an internet retailer for a single-printed t-shirt

Most printing firms provide volume discounts that are capped at specific levels. For instance, discounts increase for quantities 12, 36, 72, 144, and so forth. The typical consumer may feel that this method is capricious, encouraging them to place larger orders to receive a better price per item.

2. Shirts’ Quality

There are differences in all t-shirts. Anyone who has ever tried on an ill-fitting or rough t-shirt can attest to the fact that this is true. T-shirts vary widely in quality, and this variance is typically reflected in price. You can narrow down your search while perusing our catalog by using these categories, which provide broad estimates of the product’s cost relative to other similar things.


Any t-shirt, even the less expensive ones, is sufficiently made; the seams are neatly sewn, and with consistent wear and cleaning, the shirt will last for years. Premium tees, on the other hand (as well as some in the ordinary category), feature extra embellishments and reinforcements that give them exceptional fit and longevity.

Reputable Names

Numerous companies have grown to be well-known household names and have earned a solid reputation among consumers for high quality.

It is imperative to keep that in mind, even with their outstanding caliber.

3. Type of Fabric

By far the most common and usually the least expensive t-shirts are made of cotton. Budget tees are usually “carded-open-ended,” with a rougher print surface, but premium cotton shirts are frequently “ring-spun,” which is softer and smoother for printing. Pima or Egyptian cotton, is used to make higher-end luxury shirts.

4. Print Location

Each garment is much more expensive when there are multiple print places. According to the amount of color used in each print area, a t-shirt with prints on the front, back, and both sleeves, for instance, may cost up to twice as much as a garment with just one print area. (More on the number of colors below.)

5. A Tailoring Approach

A t-shirt can be personalized in a lot of ways, such as through heat transfers, printing, embroidery, and more.

  • Digital: For orders with fewer quantities and multicolored artwork, digital printing is more economical. A single shirt can cost anywhere from $25 to $50 or more at most on-demand stores, which use digital printing. Orders for digital prints usually qualify for lower bulk discounts.
  • Screen Printing: Because screen printing reduces the cost per shirt dramatically with volume purchases, it is best suited for larger numbers. The reason is that the initial setup expenses for screen printing depend on the number of colors on the print and include things like screens and presses.
  • Embroidery: The amount of thread used sets the price because it affects how many stitches are needed, which in turn affects the size and intricacy of the decoration. For modest alterations, like a logo on the left chest, embroidery is usually utilized.

6. The Number Of Ink Hues

The cost per item of screen-printed tees increases with the number of colors used in the design. This is because each hue requires a separate screen to be “burned” and set up on the press. This extends the production period and raises the price of ink, screens, and other materials.

7. Shirt Dimensions

Unbeknownst to many, 2XL and larger t-shirt sizes cost more than standard sizes since they need extra material and processing. Small, medium, large, and XL shirts are generally the same price; however, 2XL, 3XL, and 4XL shirts can cost up to 25%, 35%, and 50% more, respectively!

8. More Customization

Though this may seem obvious, adding more custom personalizations will make your custom tees more expensive. For instance, the cost of softball team shirts with screen printing on the front and vinyl names and numbers on the back will be much more than that of screen printing alone.

9. Refund Period/date Of Receipt

It would be negligent of us to overlook the turnaround time for custom t-shirt prices. Most printing companies charge more for expedited orders and have a standard turnaround time.


Whether you have a business already or are just starting your clothing line, we hope you found this post helpful. Alternatively, consider the expense of manufacturing that $5 t-shirt the next time you’re out shopping. There are fundamental necessities that must be satisfied, regardless of how much a shirt costs to make.