Custom made T-shirts cater to a large and fragmented audience covering Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe. However, despite the odds, the market for customizing and printing Custom T-shirts is on a steady rise. This is because the makers are able to tap into the evolving fashion awareness of their expanding consumer base, which is mainly the youth, between the ages of 18 and 30 years. This niche in the apparel industry also provides more choices for its passionate consumers.
Prior to 2016, the most preferred method for embellishing T-shirts was screen printing – it contributed to 55% of the global market revenue. However, with the adoption of the digital printing technique, it has become easier for small and medium-sized businesses to customize T-shirts in a profitable way.
3 Categories of Custom made T-Shirts Printing:
There are three broad categories of printing technologies on T-shirts:
- Screen Printing: It is the oldest and most common method for printing on T-shirts and works well for mass production. This style became popular since the times of Andy Warhol when he created his popular Marilyn Diptych. In this process, an image, text or design is foisted on a screen of nylon mesh. Then the design is transferred to the garment by creating a stencil. This has been the most preferred method of printing as the quality and finish is better than other printing methods. However, it is not ideal for small quantities and is time-consuming.
- Digital Printing: Digital printing is new to the market but has become the most adopted one, especially for smaller quantities. This process is also called Direct to Garment (DTG) technique where the T-shirt is placed in the DTG printer that injects ink onto the fabric. With this process, it is easier to get a variety of colours and so it is ideal for complex and detailed designs. However, the digital printing method does not allow for mass production of T-shirts as compared to screen printing. Digital printing also does not work too well on darker fabrics.
- Plot Printing: In this technique, the design is printed on a special paper sheet, which is then transferred to the fabric by applying heat and pressure. The design lasts for a long time and hardly fades out when washed. One gets more options in colours and this printing method is ideal for detailed designs. However, it is not viable for mass production.
Customizing T-shirts through digital printing is a faster process and can be approached by anyone who is new to the apparel industry as well. The set-up costs are lower than other printing methods, and the colours on the T-shirts have a smooth finish and a high-quality appeal. Unlike the screen printing method, digital printing on T-shirts makes them affordable for the consumer.
Countries such as India, Japan, and China, among others, mostly contribute to the custom T-shirt market from the Asia Pacific region due to the rapid technological developments in the T-shirt printing industry. Techniques such as digital printing have made customization affordable and have created a healthy competition in the apparel industry.
Customized T-shirts appeal uniquely to various passionate groups. For students in institutions, different custom made T-shirts can be worn for drama, history, science or literature clubs – they give each group a unified identity. Employees from companies can wear custom T-shirts for corporate events and promote their brand.
Customizing T-shirts is not just limited to corporations and institutions. Nowadays, T-shirts are customized for travellers, friends, and families, giving a feeling of solidarity within the specific groups. Clearly, the custom-made T-shirt market is booming and looks all set to continue to do so.
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