T-shirts are one of the most popular and versatile clothing items in the world. But how much do we know about the t-shirt industry and its current trends?
In this blog post, we’ll cover:
T-shirt industry growth predictions in the US and worldwide
Custom t-shirt printing trends
Sustainable manufacturing statistics
Whether you’re interested in the t-shirt market trends or looking for insights before starting a clothing line, this article offers the most relevant and up-to-date t-shirt industry statistics to keep you informed. Let’s get started!
With the growth of ecommerce and the leading fashion brands embracing the t-shirt industry, the future outlook appears positive for the global t-shirt market.
Over the years, the global market has evolved, driving fashion trends in plain t-shirts, personalized shirts, graphic and vintage t-shirt designs, and custom t-shirts.
The increasing demand for casual and comfortable clothing among consumers of different age groups and regions is one of the key growth factors driving the market. Moreover, the rising popularity of ecommerce platforms and print-on-demand services has enabled consumers to access a wide range of products and designs at affordable prices.
That’s a t-shirt for every Instagram user worldwide! Or, imagine every person in Europe and the Americas (North and South America) buying at least one t-shirt—that’s still less than the 2B items sold each year.
Several factors drive the growth. This includes the rise of ecommerce, the increasing consumer demand for casual wear, the emergence of new printing technologies and materials, and the growing interest in personalized clothing.
The t-shirt market is expected to grow annually by 3.22% (2023–2027 forecast period). Consumers are increasingly opting for comfortable and versatile clothing that can be worn for different occasions. The rising popularity of casual wear and athleisure worldwide is a key driver of the market growth.
Another reason for the market expansion is the rising trend of customized and personalized shirts. Custom t-shirts allow consumers to express their creativity, identity, and preferences through unique designs.
In global comparison, China is expected to generate the most revenue from the t-shirt market worldwide, with an estimated $5.7B in 2023. China is in a dominant position as a manufacturer and a consumer of t-shirts.
China has been the world’s largest apparel producer and exporter for over a decade, benefiting from low labor costs, advanced technology, and favorable trade policies. China is also a huge market for t-shirts, with a growing middle class and a young population that favors fashionable and comfortable clothing.
The global market was estimated at $106.6B in 2021 and will grow significantly from 2022 to 2028. In addition to the increasing demand for casual and comfortable clothing, the rising popularity of online shopping and ecommerce platforms offers a wide range of options and convenience for consumers of all genders.
Historically, men’s t-shirts have made up the largest market segment. But, unisex and women’s t-shirts are becoming increasingly popular. The growth of the women’s t-shirt segment also reflects the changing preferences and attitudes towards fashion, comfort, and self-expression.
The United States is a big player in the t-shirt industry. Its growing market implies that there’s a steady demand for new t-shirts. So, let’s look at some data that show current trends and future predictions for the t-shirt market in the US.
The US t-shirt market is expected to grow annually by 3.5% from 2023 to 2027, reaching over $6B. Similarly to other worldwide trends, we can explain the US t-shirt market revenue growth by looking at global consumer behavior. Increasing demand for casual clothing and the popularity of online shopping, customization, and printing services has driven the United States to become the largest apparel market in the world, second only to China.
T-shirts are versatile and adaptable garments that suit different occasions, styles, and preferences. They’re also relatively simple to produce, distribute, and market, making them attractive to consumers and retailers.
The t-shirt segment’s revenue in the United States (2014–2027).
The t-shirt segment is one of the most popular and profitable categories in the apparel market in the US.
With the advancement of technology and ecommerce, t-shirts can be produced and distributed at lower costs and faster speeds. As a result, t-shirts are becoming more affordable. Consumers also benefit from the convenience and variety of online shopping platforms that offer a wide range of t-shirts from different brands, designs, and prices.
The market for women’s t-shirts is expanding, and it’s estimated to experience a growth rate of 6% from 2022 to 2028.
The rising popularity of ecommerce platforms means a broader range of styles to offer, including women’s and unisex t-shirts.
Source: Grand View Research
Online revenue share for the t-shirt market in the US is expected to overtake offline purchases for the first time, accounting for 50.7% of the market revenue in 2024. Only 28.4% of t-shirt purchases were made online in 2019, followed by substantial growth of 40.2% in 2020.
The rapid increase in online purchasing can be attributed to the changing shopping habits spearheaded by the global pandemic and the rise of ecommerce. According to forecasts, online segment sales growth will continue and overtake offline purchases for the US t-shirt market in 2024.
The growth of custom t-shirts and their market has been impacted by: the advancement of digital printing technologies, the popularity of ecommerce, and the desire for unique items among consumers. Personalized options also offer a competitive edge for businesses, as they can boost customer loyalty, increase brand awareness, and generate word-of-mouth referrals.
Another factor is the rising trend of customization in the fashion industry. Consumers seek ways to express their individuality, preferences, and creativity through clothing choices.
Searches on Google for “custom t-shirt” show that people are increasingly searching for personalized t-shirts before the holiday season. Especially, occasions like Mother’s Day, 4th of July, and Christmas attract interest in customized t-shirt options.
Source: Google Trends
The global custom t-shirt printing market is expected to increase 2.3 times from 2023 to 2033, reaching $9.9M in the next decade. Year after year, the market is expanding as the apparel industry and ecommerce platforms offer more personalized clothing options. This impressive market growth rate can be attributed to several factors:
The emergence of online platforms and ecommerce channels enables easy and convenient ordering, designing, and delivery of custom printed t-shirts across the globe.
The growing demand for personalized printed t-shirts among consumers as they want to express their individuality, preferences, and opinions through clothing.
Companies, start-ups, and organizations increasingly use custom t-shirt printing as a modern branding strategy to promote their products, services, or causes.
Fans of movies, TV shows, celebrities, and sports teams want to show their loyalty and support by wearing custom shirts.
The availability of various printing techniques offers different levels of quality, durability, and cost-effectiveness.
The region accounted for the largest global market share in 2022 and is expected to grow 7.79% from 2022 to 2026. The technological advancement and new product launches by key players in the industry are reasons why the custom t-shirt printing market is growing in Asia Pacific. The rise of digital textile printing and advances in dye-sublimation technology have opened up new market segments and opportunities in the region.
Moreover, Asia Pacific’s market is expected to grow due to its vast population base with increasing urbanization and spending power, especially in China and India. Plus, the emergence of popular ecommerce and social media platforms creates a rise in demand for customized t-shirts.
Source: Grand View Research
Graphic t-shirts with pre-existing designs dominate most of the global custom t-shirt printing market. It accounted for over 57% of the global revenue in 2022. Historically, graphic t-shirts, which don’t require further adjustments or personalization, have been the largest market segment.
However, the artwork segment is expected to be the fastest-growing, boasting a growth rate of 11.6% from 2023 to 2030. The high growth of the custom artwork segment indicates the rising demand for customized clothing, especially for slogans and personalized messages.
This reveals a growing trend in the apparel industry: customers want to express their individuality and creativity through their clothing choices and personalized products. This can include adding text, images, logos, colors, or patterns to a plain shirt or even modifying the shape, size, or style of the t-shirt itself.
T-shirt personalization has several benefits for both customers and businesses. For customers, it’s a chance to show off their personality, preferences, and values. For businesses, it can create a competitive advantage, generate more revenue, and reduce inventory costs. Personalization can also help build stronger customer relationships and cater to their needs.
The custom t-shirt printing market sees the most money from the commercial segment, which held more than 67% of the revenue share in 2022. This dominance can be attributed to the growing demand for personalized t-shirts in the hospitality, media, and retail sectors. Custom printed t-shirts are often used to promote the company’s brand identity through logos or slogans.
Customized t-shirts are also popular as corporate gifts that serve as off-the-clock advertising. Equally, community groups often use custom prints to dress up a team and share a message.
Source: “Girl Get After It” via Instagram
Screen printing, digital printing, and plot printing are the most popular techniques for printing designs on t-shirts. Below, we’ve gathered industry insights about these methods, their popularity, advantages, and the technological developments fueling future trends.
Screen printing is the traditional printing method and is also a cost-effective printing technique that’s been around for ages. Its greatest advantage is printing on various materials: synthetic fabrics like polyester, viscose, silk, and other similar materials. In addition, screen printing technology offers high print quality, color vibrancy, and a soft finish.
It’s predicted that the screen printing segment will continue to lead the custom t-shirt printing market (2023 to 2030 forecast period), with digital technology presenting growing competition.
The digital printing segment of custom t-shirt printing is set to snowball at 16.3% from 2023 to 2030. Digital printing is a modern method that uses computer-controlled printers to print images directly onto fabric. This includes direct-to-garment (DTG) printing and direct-to-fabric (DTF) printing techniques.
Digital technology offers several advantages over screen printing. For example, faster turnaround time, lower production costs, and reduced environmental impact. The development of various newer technologies like UV gel also plays a role in the industry’s innovation. This progress allows for faster, cheaper, and more eco-friendly t-shirt production. Below, check out some of the breakthroughs advancing digital printing technology in the last 50 years.
In addition to reduced water consumption, digital printing can decrease energy use by about 37% and lower CO2 emissions by approximately 25%. Overall, digital printing is expected to lower the environmental impact of custom t-shirt printing by using less water, energy, and chemicals than other printing techniques.
The advancements in printing technology are also expected to improve the quality and durability of the prints. The cost-effectiveness of the method is expected to help grow the digital textile printing market segment in the coming years.
In 2021, more than half of the digital textile printed garments in the US were made of cotton, representing over 52% of the market share. Cotton is also the most commonly used material for t-shirts, accounting for more than half of the global t-shirt market share.
Cotton is a natural fiber that’s soft, breathable, durable, and easy to care for. Organic cotton is also gaining popularity among environmentally conscious consumers willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly products.
However, the percentage of digital textile printed garments made of polyester or a cotton-polyester blend is expected to increase significantly in the next few years. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that’s strong, wrinkle-resistant, and colorfast. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than cotton regarding water and energy consumption.
Consumers have become more conscious of the materials, processes, and labor conditions involved in producing their garments.
In turn, businesses increasingly seek ways to reduce their carbon footprint and waste generation by opting for more durable, recyclable, and biodegradable products and resource-efficient printing methods.
This reveals the hidden environmental cost of the fashion industry, which is one of the world’s largest consumers and polluters of water, especially when it comes to producing cotton t-shirts.
How does a simple t-shirt use so much water? The answer lies in the production process of cotton, a thirsty crop that requires a lot of irrigation and pesticides. In addition, dyeing and finishing textiles also consume and contaminate large amounts of water, often in regions where water is scarce.
Sustainability and waste have always been key concerns in the fashion industry. Even the lower estimate of 2% is equivalent to the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Some of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the fashion industry come from producing raw materials (such as cotton, wool, leather, and synthetic fibers), manufacturing, transportation, distribution, consumption, and disposal of fashion products. All these activities consume energy and water, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions.
The market is expected to grow by 9.1% by 2030, reaching $15.17B. This statistic demonstrates the growing demand for ethically produced, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible clothing. One of the main drivers of this market growth is the rising awareness of consumers about the environmental and social impacts of their fashion choices.
Different country government initiatives worldwide support the sustainable clothing market. From 2020, clothing companies in France are required to follow around 100 sustainability provisions. In addition, 16 leading retail fashion brands in India have pledged to source sustainable raw materials for most of their total consumption by 2025. The government plans are predicted to have a large global impression on the garment production processes.
Compared to 6.7% in 2023, the market share of sustainably made t-shirts is estimated to grow by 1.8% in 2026. This shows increased interest in sustainability and consistent demand for shirts sold by environmentally-conscious companies.
The term “sustainable” refers to products sold by companies engaging in green supply chains, using sustainable input factors, and transparently disclosing their environmental and social practices.
While most shoppers in Europe favor sustainable production, many have yet to integrate it into their buying habits, according to the IBM and Morning Consult survey of 1,000 adults in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
A desire to help the environment is the primary reason consumers purchase sustainable products and brands. Almost 30% of consumers say they want to improve the environment, with 23% wishing to reduce production waste and 22% wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. But, it’s the younger Gen Z shoppers who are willing to pay extra for sustainable clothing.
Source: Vogue Business
Globally, the t-shirt market is growing in line with the rising popularity of online shopping and consumer interest in casual wear. This expansion is especially noticeable in the largest apparel markets—Asia Pacific, the US, and Europe.
Both consumers and businesses show growing interest in custom printed t-shirts and personalized clothing. This goes hand in hand with the advancements of digital printing technology, allowing for faster, cheaper, and more resource-efficient t-shirt printing.
Much like the fashion industry, t-shirt businesses face challenges to become greener and more sustainable, with younger generations willing to pay a premium for a sustainably made t-shirt.
Got some more industry insights to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.