Young man wearing blank t-shirt on yellow background, closeup. Mockup for design

Starting your own T-shirt and hoodie business is not difficult in principle. Buy some inventory, find a place to sell it, and go. But what seems simple isn’t so easy when you actually try to do it. The number one problem is that the T-shirt market is extremely crowded. You might even say that it is overly saturated.

It didn’t used to be this way when silk-screening was the only available method for mass-producing T-shirts. But modern technology has made custom T-shirt printing a snap. For a few thousand dollars, anyone can own the necessary equipment. Entrepreneurs not interested in purchasing equipment can simply pay someone else to print their items for them.

It is so easy to have T-shirts and hoodies printed that everyone seems to be doing it. There are literally thousands of T-shirt sites online. There are conventional retailers in strip malls, flea markets, and on and on. So how do you make it in such a crowded market?

Find a Niche

The first and most important principle of the current T-shirt and hoodie market is to find a niche. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Do not settle for generic products that your customers can get from dozens of other suppliers. Instead, go after a captive audience by selecting a niche that no one else is addressing.

Umai is a unique brand that has done just that. They produce and sell custom anime T-shirts, hoodies, hats, phone cases, and artwork. They have tapped into a cultural phenomenon that just happens to be on fire right now. Best of all, every piece of Umai artwork is original. They pay no licensing fees because they produce all the images in house.

Create a Unique Marketing Message

Competing in a crowded market requires cutting through the noise. It is not enough to slap up a website with a banner that says, “We sell T-shirts and hoodies!”. You need a unique marketing message that differentiates your brand from everyone else.

The key to a unique marketing message is to push the envelope. That does not mean being offensive or combative. Rather, it means coming up with a message that causes your customers to think outside the box. It might be something funny or serious. It might be intellectual or downright silly. But it has to be something that triggers a unique thought.

Go After Trends

Finally, do what the streetwear industry is doing in terms of deciding on new product drops. Rather than sticking to the traditional four-season fashion schedule, pay attention to cultural trends and use them as your guide. Cash in on whatever is hot at the moment.

Going after trends means that your product line will evolve a lot more quickly. But that’s okay. Items pertaining to past trends can be taken out of the inventory and forgotten. By concentrating on what’s hot right now, you guarantee that you always have a market for your goods. A lot of smaller lines can add up to more profit than one or two bigger lines.

Fashion and clothing are undergoing a revolution right now. Much of what we are seeing in the industry is a direct result of the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. As we now try to determine a new normal, there is a unique opportunity for boutique clothing brands to stake their claims.

You can stake yours with something as basic as T-shirts and hoodies. You just need to have the right attitude, a willingness to work, and an open mind. Copy what other successful brands are doing and you’ll be okay.