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Blog / Style & trends / 12 T-Shirt Design Trends for 2024

Style & trends

12 T-Shirt Design Trends for 2024

12 T-Shirt Design Trends for 2024
Lilija Karpjaka

By Lilija Karpjaka

21 min read

Get ready to fuel your creativity with the freshest 2024 t-shirt design trends! 

This year will be about nostalgia, self-expression, boldness, and vibrant colors.

As an online seller, you must keep up with the latest design trends and cultural shifts, especially if you want to start a clothing line or expand your custom clothing collection. Aligning your print-on-demand business with new trends helps you meet the needs of your target audience and drive more sales, keeping your products fresh and relevant.

That’s why our design team here at Printful made a list of trending t-shirt designs for 2024. You can refer to our list when you need inspiration to create a new t-shirt design. Whether you’re creating custom illustrations or promoting bold statements, there’s a t-shirt trend for any taste.

Plus, we’ll give you a few specific t-shirt design ideas for each trend to spark your imagination. Let’s jump right into it.

Y2K

From the runways to the streets, the 2000s are making a bold comeback, featuring staples like baggy jeans, crop tops, and tinted sunglasses. This revival of Y2K aesthetics is shaping up to be one of the defining t-shirt trends for 2024.

For many, Y2K fashion evokes a sense of nostalgia—a throwback to the turn of the millennium. It’s a celebration of a time marked by optimism and the dawn of a digital age.

Characterized by its playful and bold aesthetic, Y2K t-shirts often feature bright, bold colors, metallics, and a combination of futuristic and retro elements. Key motifs include tech-inspired graphics reminiscent of early internet culture alongside iconic pop culture references from that era. Glitter, shiny materials, and catchy, often whimsical phrases are also Y2K staples.

Read also: The 2000s Are Back: 10 Pieces to Ace Your Y2K Era

a woman in a pink cardigan

Source: Buzzfeed

How to create a Y2K t-shirt design

Start by revisiting old magazines, music videos, and movies from the early 2000s to get a feel for the color palettes and graphic styles that defined Y2K fashion. 

Vibrant neon colors like hot pink, electric blue, and lime green are ideal for capturing the playful spirit of the era. If you’re aiming for a softer look, consider pastels, which were also trending t-shirt colors at the time.

For typography, blocky, retro, or handwritten typefaces will complement your design. Fonts that mimic early digital displays or have a techno feel are also fitting.

Mix in graphic elements inspired by early digital art, video games, and tech imagery. Pixelated designs, cyber-inspired graphics, and elements that mimic early internet interfaces add an authentic touch. Glitch effects are also a great way to add a Y2K feel.

Alternatively, opt for pop culture references from the era. Catchy phrases, iconic movie or music references, and celebrity styles from the early 2000s will resonate well with the theme.

The essence of Y2K t-shirt design is a blend of optimism, digital fascination, and bold self-expression, so let these fuel your creativity.

Kitsch ’90s graphic design

We’ve been touring the ’90s fashion memory lane for the past three years, and from what we’ve seen on runways in 2023, ’90s fashion will keep trending in 2024.

Grunge, minimalism, and hip-hop culture all brought their flavor to the ’90s. Sportswear became part of everyday fashion, and denim—from high-waisted mom jeans to overalls and jackets—remained dominant throughout the decade. 

Amid these trends, the ’90s also embraced an element of kitsch. This included playful, flashy elements like neon colors, bold patterns, and exaggerated accessories. The kitsch aspect added a whimsical, ironic flavor to the decade’s fashion.

The Oxford Dictionary of Art defines kitsch as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way. . .”

Basically, kitsch designs might be objectively “ugly,” but anyone can appreciate the lowbrow style.

While today’s take on ’90s kitsch retains the essence of the original trend, modern interpretations often feature more refined and sophisticated elements. Designers and fashion enthusiasts mix these quirky, vintage-inspired pieces with current t-shirt trends, creating nostalgic and fashion-forward looks.

The appeal of ’90s kitsch in today’s fashion underscores a broader trend toward individuality and self-expression. It’s right up the alley of the younger generations who often express themselves by balancing sincerity and self-aware, humorous irony.

How to design kitsch 90’s graphics

If you want to make kitsch t-shirts, save your pursuit for sophistication on other design projects. Instead, look for t-shirt design ideas in all the good stuff that the ’90s represented. If you have no memory of this decade, tap into the media and explore posters, mood boards, and graphics on ’90s apparel.

 90s design moodboard

Source: Etsy

Tip: Image libraries like iStock and Shutterstock have great examples of ’90s graphic designs.

Allow your t-shirt design to be a patchwork of joyful visual codes referencing the era’s nostalgia. You can’t go wrong with using Comic Sans, floral patterns, geometric shapes, lively colors, and even Nickelodeon-inspired illustrations. The “weirder” your t-shirt design is, the better. This is your mantra.

To achieve that specific ’90s kitsch look, pay attention to the ’90s color palette. After two decades of saturated and vibrant hues, the ’90s grunge scene popularized more subdued, moody ones. Note that colorfulness is still an important part of this t-shirt trend.

90s color palette

Source: Juicebox

If you’re unsure where to start with your t-shirt design, why not explore our ’90s clipart?

Just to show what you can find in our Design Maker, here’s a kitschy compilation of our design elements.

In the Design Maker, you’ll find 3,500+ design elements like cliparts, background graphics, colors, and Quick Designs—all free to use.

preview play-button

Spiritual and esoteric

If you’re interested in spirituality and esoterism and use social media like Instagram and TikTok, chances are you’ve run into astrology, manifestation, and New Age spiritual practices. This trend spiked in popularity on social media in 2020 and is still spreading fast. The post-pandemic era seems to bring in authentic, feel-good, self-care vibes, kind of like what Pinterest is predicting for this year.

The spiritual and esoteric t-shirt design trend can easily be adapted to many styles. It can be dressed in love and light vibes, psychedelic and geometric symbolisms, and even dark aesthetics that give off a witchy energy.

How to create spiritual and esoteric t-shirt designs

To give you an idea of what people search for on Google—here are some keywords from January 2023, as found on the SEO platform Ahrefs.

Keywords

Monthly search volume, USA

Mushroom t-shirt

900

Zodiac sign shirt

700

Spiritual t-shirt

600

Moon t-shirt

500

Astrology shirt

500

Evil eye t-shirt

450

Tarot t-shirt

350

Crystal t-shirt

300

Sacred geometry shirt

250

You can incorporate these keywords into your t-shirt designs as well as in the titles and descriptions. This way, you’ll have a higher chance of directing new customers to your store.

To get more inspiration for t-shirt designs, visit Etsy and search “spiritual t-shirt” or try looking up something like “esoteric t-shirt” on Pinterest. You can also take this list of keywords and use them to look through your social media platforms. Chances are you’ll find someone sporting a design you’ve never seen before.

Spiritual and esoteric t-shirt designs often incorporate elements like sacred geometry, celestial symbols in vector graphics and illustrations, zodiac signs, nature elements, eastern religion symbols, and Wiccan elements.

Seed of life sacred geometry symbol

Seed of life sacred geometry symbol

 
Modern spiritual and esoteric design elements

Modern spiritual and esoteric design elements

 
Hamsa—an important religious element of Hinduism

Hamsa—an important religious element of Hinduism

 
Source: vecteezy Source: freepik  Source: pixels

Most of the time, spiritual and esoteric designs hold some meaning recognizable by these belief system practitioners. If you choose to incorporate these symbols into your design, make sure you understand their cultural and spiritual significance. Avoid cultural appropriation and insensitive use of sacred symbols.

The colors for these designs can be on any spectrum—from black and white to vibrant and saturated.

Read also: 8 Effective T-Shirt Ads (And Why They Work)

Psychedelic art and vibrant colors

Speaking of trippy designs, 2023 started strong with psychedelic t-shirt designs on full display in fast fashion stores. Psychedelia has seen a steady increase in popularity due to the growing interest in retro styles and today’s love for bold and eye-catching fashion.


psychedelic shirts

Source: Pull & Bear

Visual psychedelia dominated graphic arts and fashion between the late ’60s and mid-’70s. It was the age of artistic fluorescence, anti-war music, and exploration of altered states of consciousness.

The unrest and turmoil of today play out in politics and the economy. And this, coupled with the climate crisis, is making everyone, especially the younger generations, more stressed and anxious. Roughly 45% of Gen Z and Millennials feel stress and anxiety daily. 

There’s now a strong pull towards creative authenticity as an outlet for expression, including escaping reality through psychedelic aesthetics and vibrant colors that hint at experiences beyond the visible, tangible world.

Just like the spiritual and esoteric lead us into the getaway between imagination and reality, there’s undoubtedly something in the new psychedelic movement that echoes a similar direction. Knowing oneself and reaching for unity and inner peace is what people strongly gravitate toward in turbulent times.

Read also: Gen Z Fashion: 12 Fashion Trends

How to create psychedelic t-shirt designs

Some common elements include swirls, paisley prints, intense colors, free-flowing lines, kaleidoscopic patterns, and eye-catching graphics

References to peace, love, nature, and other positive messaging in groovy typography also play a big part in the psychedelic t-shirt design trend.

Take inspiration from these keywords and create a design that would make someone exclaim, “Whoa, that’s trippy”.

By the way, tie-dye t-shirts are closely related to the psychedelic design trend, and they’re still riding the popularity wave in 2024.

 joe cocker performing

Joe Cocker performing at Woodstock

There’s an Oversized Tie-Dye T-Shirt in our collection that you can personalize with a groovy embroidery design.

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Bold and decorative typography

Typography shirts can be ingeniously creative. This is a type of digital art form—with different letter shapes and spacing. The designs can be impactful, humorous, beautiful, and, well, any other adjective you intend them to be. 

In fact, the letter fonts alone can hold recognizable meanings. Just to illustrate their power, designers from all backgrounds collaborated to create a diverse typeface (design or style of the letterforms) called “DIVERSITY” in hopes that they can serve as a symbol of allyship for brands, businesses, and individuals.

Part of the bold and decorative typography trend is the use of bold statements. These are powerful, concise messages that stand out not just for their font style but also for their content. Often used to make a statement about societal issues, personal beliefs, or humorous insights, these statements turn a simple t-shirt into a conversation starter or a reflection of the wearer’s identity.

The bold and decorative typography trend will be popular in 2024 because there’s a growing demand for solid and structured font styles. And because 2024 will be fiercely creative and expressive, there’s a shift toward more experimental font styles featuring unusual shapes, variable fonts, and cut-out-style fonts.

unusual shapes

Unusual shapes

 
variable fonts

Variable fonts

 
Cut out-style fonts

Cut out-style fonts

 
Source: ifonts Source: web.dev Source: stock.adobe

For the 2024 trend, you can understand “bold” in two ways. Your typography can be daring, just like the designer and activist Katherine Hamnett’s work was in the ’80s. She used large and bold t-shirt designs to create impactful slogans. 

Bold can also simply mean strong and vivid. You can accentuate your graphics and illustrations or create pure typography designs using decorative fonts.

How to create bold and decorative typography designs

If you’re new to typography and not yet comfortable creating your own, our Design Maker has a vast font collection. Play around with the ones you like and try the arc, outline, and shadow tools. You can also mess around with typography designs for free using Canva.

When choosing a font, consider the other design trends of the year. For example, the 2023 Spotify Wrapped campaign featured bold typography paired with bright, saturated colors, warped shapes, and pixelated artworks—inspired by the early Internet.

a colorful background with black text

Source: Spotify Wrapped campaign

Translate this idea into your t-shirt designs. When you’re creating bold and decorative typography, focus on not only strong but also expressive lettering. Think about how the forms and colors of the design accentuate the message you want to convey. This way, you’re telling a story to your customers, and people love figuring things out and taking in the meanings.

Flexible, lively, illustrative fonts with an animated nature show a desire for more experimentation as we begin to embrace cultural uncertainty . . . or possibly because the ’90s nostalgia reminds us of childhood play and exploring the outdoors.

preview play-button

Hand-sketched t-shirt designs

Hand-sketched designs have appeared as a direct response to the digital saturation in our lives. As technology, AI art, and virtual realities have become part of our lives, there’s a growing appreciation for the authenticity and personal touch that hand-sketched designs bring.

Hand-sketched designs often display the imperfections and fluidity that come with something created by human hands, as opposed to the precise, clean lines typical of digital artwork. Plus, it’s an opportunity to create a unique design that no one’s seen before.

Hand-sketched designs can include doodles, detailed drawings, handwritten text, or personalized motifs—the options are as vast as your imagination.

How to create hand-sketched t-shirt designs

Start by deciding what you want to create, be it a whimsical scene, an intricate pattern, or an abstract composition. This stage is all about letting your creativity flow. Sketch out some rough ideas on paper—it’s the best way to freely explore your thoughts.

If you began with paper sketches, you could digitize them by scanning or taking a high-quality photo and then importing them into your chosen software. Alternatively, you can start directly on your digital canvas. Embrace the imperfections and quirks of hand sketching—they give your design character and authenticity.

If you don’t feel comfortable sketching your own designs, use the design tools in our free Design Maker. You’ll find various graphics—from doodles and abstract imagery to hand-written fonts—that you can easily drag and drop into your t-shirt template.

Return of the punk aesthetic

Junya Watanabe channeled the spirit of punk in his Spring/Summer 2024 runway show. Heavy eye makeup, black lipstick, and the overall air of rebellion tell us that the punk aesthetic is flowing into mainstream fashion this year.

To truly understand the punk aesthetic, looking at its roots is essential.

The punk style acted as a “theater of provocation” in the ’70s and is tightly intertwined with a lifestyle of non-conformity. Over time, tattoos, piercings, metal studs, and spiked accessories became commonplace elements of punk fashion. Everything that was punk was calculated to disturb and outrage. 

You can tell it apart from other alternative styles by the way punk expresses particular views and moods like:

  • Individual freedom

  • Anti-consumerism/authoritarianism/corporate greed

  • Anti-mainstream

  • Anti-materialism

  • Direct action

  • Not “selling out”

  • Anti-sentimental depictions of relationships

  • . . . and a healthy dose of anger

Back in the ’70s, punk fashion was seen as a deconstruction and a cultural waste by the mainstream culture. The US hardcore punk scene embraced this label leaning away from fashion trends and often dressing in plain t-shirts and jeans. To this day, punk hasn’t changed much and still loves to be rough and noisy.

Well, that last sentence is only partly true. You’re probably tasting irony in the fact that punk, with all its anti-messaging, is being flipped around by today’s fashion couture. The times are changing, and punk’s rebellious foundation is laid out on catwalks whether the subculture representatives like it or not.

We may have lost sight of what it means to be punk, but the impressive and edgy look has made an undeniable print on today’s fashion and society.

How to create custom t-shirts with a punk aesthetic

If your store has an alternative streak to it, don’t overlook this t-shirt design trend, as it has a lot to offer. The punk aesthetic can be a visual code of any bullet points mentioned before. It can be clumsy collages of mixed media, disorderly fonts, newspaper clippings, and anything else that evokes the essence of the style and the powerful, raw liveliness of it.

You can find modern punk design inspiration by looking up punk fashion designers. For example, Vivienne Westwood, an English fashion designer, shaped punk fashion and dictated the aesthetic canons of the movement we still know today.

 vivienne westwood tshirt

Source: Vivienne Westwood t-shirt on Ebay

You can also find inspiration in ecommerce stores that sell alternative style clothing like Undercover, Rebels Market, and explore punk clothing on Etsy or other online marketplaces.

Again, punk fashion is deemed to be more of a lifestyle than just a way of dressing. There are no true punk style stores because true punk clothing is DIY.

Surrealism

Surrealism is the balance between the rational vision of life and the power of the unconscious and dreams. 

Surrealist designs in 2024 will serve as experimental escapism. 

As technology advances and we start to see more AI art and discussions about the Metaverse, designers in 2024 are pushing their creative limits and taking us to mesmerizing and unimaginable landscapes. 

In the past, the surrealism movement represented a reaction against what surrealists saw as the destruction wrought by “rationalism” that had guided European culture and politics in the past and that had culminated in the horror and absurdity of World War I.

Surrealism became an avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought beauty in the unexpected, the uncanny, and the unconventional.

The major spokesman of the movement, André Breton, said that surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.”

Surrealist artists and authors believe that life has meaning and you can find its logic by unlocking visual and verbal symbolisms in the chambers of the unconscious mind.

If you see picturesque surrealist scenery in your dreams, you have exceptional imagination, but it’s even better if you can incorporate symbolism into works of art in the waking world.

How to create surrealist t-shirt designs

To find inspiration for surrealist t-shirt designs, look into the works of artists like Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Leonora Carrington, and Man Ray. They created imagery by juxtaposing unlikely forms onto unimaginable landscapes

If you observe their paintings, it seems like the artist put together things that at first don’t make sense. The art piece is like a dream—it makes sense emotionally but not logically.

Your t-shirt design doesn’t necessarily have to be a new piece of avant-garde art, but by getting familiar with the ideology and the art style, you can find out how to translate these ideas into your graphic designs. You’ll achieve a successful surrealist shirt design if you let your imagination flow without trying to create something with any certain intent.

Tip: Surrealists will often use automatism to create their pieces. Automatism is a method of art-making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process. When working on a surrealist design, try creating something without putting any thought into it and see what comes out.

You can also use a public domain website to find surrealist pieces that are not protected by intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, or patent laws). That way, you can recreate works of art you like into your own designs.

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Minimalism

Minimalist t-shirt designs are all about keeping things simple yet elegant. This style is ideal for those who love a clean and understated look. Minimalist t-shirts usually have very few design elements—maybe just a small image or a few words. The idea is to have a straightforward design without too many fancy details.

Regarding colors, minimalist t-shirts often stick to basics like black, white, grey, or soft pastel shades. These colors easily match different outfits and give the t-shirt a classic look.

The fonts used in these designs are also simple. If there’s text on the t-shirt, it’s usually short and to the point. This way, every word means something.

a man and woman posing for a pictureSource: Printful

How to create minimalist t-shirt designs

To start, focus on clean lines and simple shapes. This means avoiding excessive detail or embellishment that could clutter the design. Opt for basic geometric shapes or singular, straightforward images that clearly convey your artistic vision.

Use a limited color palette, sticking to basic colors that complement each other. Choosing just a few colors ensures the design remains uncluttered and easy on the eyes. Monochromatic schemes or neutral tones with one accent color work particularly well.

Typography is another critical aspect of your design. Choose a readable font without too many decorative elements. Make sure the text is easy to read and fits the minimalist style.

Lastly, keep your message short and to the point. In minimalist design, the power lies in saying more with less and using a few well-chosen elements.

Abstract geometry

Abstract geometry is a way to create eye-catching and thought-provoking designs while keeping a minimalist aesthetic. You can create various looks with geometric shapes, from sophisticated and elegant to playful and edgy. 

In abstract geometric designs, you’ll find a mix of lines, circles, triangles, and other shapes combined in unexpected ways. You can use just a few shapes in a clean, simple layout or create more complex compositions using overlapping and interlocking forms. 

The beauty of these designs lies in their ability to be interpreted differently by each person, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue.

How to create abstract geometry t-shirt designs

Consider large, basic shapes like triangles and squares for bold and graphic geometric prints. This works well for a statement piece where the geometry is the t-shirt’s focal point.

On the other end of the spectrum, minimalist geometric patterns offer a subtler result. Small, repeating shapes create a sophisticated, more understated, yet equally compelling look. This style is perfect for those who prefer a sleek and refined aesthetic.

For visual impact, consider including 3D geometric effects in your designs. Raised or embossed shapes create an eye-catching look that stands out. Playing with negative space can also introduce an interesting design dynamic.

When creating your abstract geometry designs, using the perfect blend of bold and subtle elements is essential. Avoid complex designs that make your t-shirt too busy or overwhelming. Instead, blend larger, eye-catching shapes with smaller, more understated patterns. 

Color also plays a significant role in abstract geometric t-shirts. You can either stick to a monochrome palette for a sleek look or use bold and bright colors to add energy and vibrancy. Contrasting colors can also make the geometric patterns pop.

By carefully considering the balance of elements and the use of color, you can create fashionable t-shirt designs with a modern artistic flair.

Nature-inspired t-shirt designs

Nature-inspired t-shirt designs bring the calm and beauty of the outdoors into everyday fashion. This t-shirt design trend reflects a growing environmental awareness and a desire to connect with nature in our increasingly urbanized lives.

The importance of nature designs in fashion goes beyond aesthetics. They’re a way for individuals to align their clothing choices with their values, particularly environmental consciousness. Wearing nature-inspired designs can be a way to show care for the planet and a commitment to preserving its beauty.

How to create nature-inspired t-shirt designs

Nature-inspired designs often include motifs like leaves, flowers, trees, animals, and landscapes. They are visually appealing and display an appreciation for the natural world. Floral patterns, for instance, offer a classic look that’s both elegant and casual. Animal prints and graphics are a way to make a bold statement while showcasing one’s love for wildlife.

You can also use landscape imagery like mountains, forests, or ocean waves. These designs range from photorealistic prints to abstract interpretations and often have a calming effect.

two women standing next to each other

Source: Printful

Mixed media 

Let’s be honest, most of us with smartphones and computers have way more screen time for entertainment than the recommended 2–4 hours per day. Our lives are deeply intertwined with the digital world, and in 2024, designers and artists are merging digital illustrations with photography. 

That might have sounded somewhat dystopia-chore, but this trend is actually focused on joy and whimsy.

The mixed media design trend is all about brilliant colors, lovely illustrations, and fun patterns that emphasize the contrast between disparate elements.

Mixed media designs like these evoke a sense of wonder and stimulate the imagination, reminding us about how much creativity and magic we have within our minds.

How to create mixed media t-shirt designs

Creating mixed media t-shirt designs means utilizing more than one medium to create the design. They can include various illustration pieces, blotches of color, snippets of patterns, and multiple layers that, in combination with a photo, make up something fresh and exciting. Your shirt design doesn’t have to have a photo, though. Mixed media can mean:

  • Hand-drawn illustrations combined with digital elements

  • Collage of photographs and graphic elements

  • Watercolor paintings combined with typography

  • Embroidery and screen printing

  • 3D designs and elements with flat graphic design

  • Multi-layered designs using transparencies and overlapping elements

Tip: Pinterest is fantastic for discovering mixed media designs and art pieces. We suggest creating Pinterest boards for this t-shirt design trend and all the other trends you like in this list.

Final words

Now’s your time to go and channel your inspiration into new and trendy custom t-shirts for your print-on-demand business!

Last bit of wisdom: if you’re struggling to come up with t-shirt design ideas, we recommend a tactic (with a rather unflattering name) that’s often used by writers—the brain dump.

Just sit down and start designing whatever comes to mind. Don’t think about anything specific. Just allow your random feelings, ideas, and subconscious thoughts to flow onto the page. This way, you’ll learn to unleash ideas faster and without critique. Then, later on, you can organize your designs and create something you feel satisfied with. And voilà, you have your t-shirt design!

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By Lilija Karpjaka on Jan 10, 2024

Lilija Karpjaka

SEO Content Writer

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.