Best Selling T-Shirts and What You Can Learn for Your Business

Best selling T-shirts and what you can learn for your business

If you’re asking the question, “is selling T-shirts online profitable” the answer is: It can be. The answer isn’t a straight “yes” because, as with any other type of business, you need to get everything right for your business to be successful.

Perhaps the most important step that anybody should take before opening a business is to do research. Find out who your target audience is and what appeals to them. For example, if you’re selling T-shirts, it’s a good idea to look at previous T-shirt designs to see what works and what doesn’t.

Here, we take a look at some of the best selling T-shirts in history and what you can learn from them:

Best Selling T-Shirts to Take Inspiration From

Plain White

Plain White
Image by Jeff Burroughs from Pixabay

Forget about all the fancy designs and bright colors. Arguably the best selling T-shirts of all time are as plain as you could imagine. Of course, we’re talking about the plain white T-shirt that remains popular today. 

The plain white T-shirt looks fantastic with jeans and a range of other clothing. It has been worn by people of all walks of life, from punks and rockers to sports celebrities and your average Joe on the street.

What can we learn?

What this T-shirt teaches us is that it’s not always necessary to create complicated designs. In fact, the plainer, the better in some cases, with a minimalistic approach often having the greatest impact.

Peace Sign

Peace Sign

The peace sign is an instantly recognizable symbol, but not many people know what it means. Most won’t know that the design uses a type of signaling language known as semaphore  to spell the letters’ N’ and ‘D’ to represent the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1950s.

The peace sign has been used on countless T-shirts and other merchandise regardless of its meaning. The designs vary considerably, except for the shape of the famous symbol, which remains largely intact.

What can we learn?

Powerful symbols like the peace symbol make for great T-shirt designs. Such images also allow you to be creative, adding your own twist to create something unique. While it’s often best to steer clear of political topics, some are almost universally agreed on.

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Coca Cola

Coca Cola

Coca Cola is one of the best-known brands on the planet. In addition to generating profits from their beverages, they also sell merchandise, including their top-selling T-shirts. One of the company’s most popular merchandise items is also one of the most successful T-shirts of all time.

It’s probably true that many people who bought this T-shirt may not have been fans of the brand. Instead, many would have been attracted by the bright red color, which complements the white lettering perfectly.

What can we learn?

While the vivid redness of this T-shirt will grab people’s attention, many people would have been compelled by the way the white font works so well on the red background. This teaches us that getting color combinations just right can help make a product a huge success.

Sh*t Happens

Sh*t Happens

This T-shirt came in a variety of colors and fonts but carried the same simple message regardless. The message, “Sh*t happens”, refers to the fact that we are all faced with hardships occasionally, and we have to do our best to overcome them.

The message on a T-shirt is a whimsical way of acknowledging the hardships we face in life. It is also something that can apply to almost every person who has ever lived and all of those who will live.

What can we learn?

The message on this T-shirt is something that can appeal to everybody, making it appealing to a vast audience. If you wanted, you could even experiment with colors and fonts to help you appeal to particular demographics.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

This Rolling Stones T-shirt depicts one of the most iconic rock-related images ever. The Stones were one of the most successful bands on the planet, and the original image first appeared in one of their albums. Since then, the image has been synonymous with the band ever since.

The original image showed a red tongue. However, the image on this T-shirt was altered to show the Stars and Stripes, representing the British band’s tour of the US in 1981.

What can we learn?

This image teaches us that we can build on well-known icons, adapting them to represent a specific event or person. In this instance, the red, white and blue of the Stars and Stripes work perfectly with the original design to make one of the best selling T-shirts ever. 

I Love New York

I love New York

This T-shirt was originally created to help promote New York to tourists. The designers may never have expected the design to become such a huge hit. The design has sold millions and not just in NY but in other US states and even in other countries.

As striking as the design is, it is also very simple. The message is quite clear, with the letters clearly visible on the shirt. Plus, of course, the heart adds to the wonderful aesthetics of this T-shirt.

What can we learn?

This T-shirt reminds us that some of the world’s most famous cities are iconic in their own right. With that in mind, a T-shirt design depicting a city, or any other iconic location can be very successful.    

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

This is another T-shirt design depicting a famous band. In this case, the band is Pink Floyd, one of the most famous groups ever. The image comes from the Dark Side of the Moon album, which is one of the best selling albums of all time having sold 15 million copies.

For the album cover, the band requested a simple yet bold design. The image they settled on, which depicts a prism spectrum, has since become one of the most iconic images on the planet.

What can we learn?

We can learn a lot from Pink Floyd’s request for a simple yet bold design. The prism image is not at all complex yet is still striking, helped by the colors in the spectrum. Furthermore, the design transfers superbly to T-shirts, especially when printed on a black background.

Superman

Superman

Superman is arguably the most favorite superhero of all time. He is also instantly recognizable thanks to his cape and, of course, the famous “S” on the chest of his super-suit. The “S” from Superman’s suit made a perfect T-shirt design that sold millions the world over.

The ‘S’ is ideal for T-shirts because of its eye-catching red and yellow design. Even better, the design can be placed on the chest of the T-shirt in the same place it was located on Superman’s suit.

What can we learn?

Superheroes are loved by people of all ages and from all walks of life. The popularity of superheroes, and other figures in pop-culture, can be tapped into to create a T-shirt design that appeals to the masses.

Champion

Champion

Champion’s top-selling T-shirts are among the most recognizable on the planet. They are also one of the simplest, usually completely plain, albeit in a selection of colors. However, these best-selling T-shirts also have a feature that helps them stand out from the rest.

That feature is the brand logo located on the chest area, with another on the left sleeve. The clean design of Champion shirts helps to draw attention to the logo, which itself looks great in a cursive font.

What can we learn?

Champion T-shirts are another lesson in simplicity and remind us that some of the most eye-catching designs are minimalistic. Another lesson we can learn from Champion T-shirts is the importance of brand visibility because the company logo is usually the first thing people’s eyes are drawn to.

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf

The lone wolf design is among the most successful of all designs globally. There are countless variations of the design, but they all typically feature a single wolf with a moon or other features in the background.

Lone wolf T-shirts allow designers to tap into the beauty of nature. Not only is the wolf a stunning creature, but background features also contribute to stunning visuals. You don’t even have to be a fan of wolves to appreciate just how beautiful nature can be at times.

What can we learn?

The main takeaway from this design is that great ideas for T-shirt designs are all around us. Nature has already gifted us with ideas that we can use directly or take inspiration from. We can also learn that while simplistic designs can work very well, complex designs can also be successful if they’re well-designed.

Summary

Great ideas for top-selling T-shirts are all around us, whether from previous designs, from nature, or items around us. If you take ideas from previous designs, it’s important not to copy them outright. For one thing, you don’t want to get caught up in a copyright lawsuit. For another, being unique will help your brand get noticed.

Regardless of the design, working with a reliable print partner is essential for the best results. The team at Printbest will print high-quality designs that will delight your customers. We also strive to maintain a professional and reliable service all-round. Visit our catalog here to discover more about what our team can print for you.

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