Gildan T-Shirts: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best One for You

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Discover the key differences between Gildan’s top selling t-shirt styles including the popular Gildan® Ultra Cotton®, DryBlend®, Softstyle® Hammer® and Performance®.  Find out which one best fit your needs.

If you’re puzzled about which Gildan T-shirt to choose, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been in the custom apparel industry for the last 15 years full time, but an additional 10 years before that. I’ve not only sold hundreds of thousands of custom apparel items, but have worn, washed and critiqued every one of their unisex, short sleeve t-shirts. I will share my firsthand insights to help you select the perfect Gildan tee for your needs. Plus, we’ll delve into the history of Gildan and uncover why it’s a top seller worldwide.

A Brief History of Gildan:

Gildan Activewear, established in 1984, quickly rose to prominence as one of the leading suppliers of high-quality, affordable activewear. Known for its ethical manufacturing practices and commitment to sustainability, Gildan has captured a substantial market share by offering affordable products in a huge selection of colors. At one point, you could get over 65 different colors, well before any of their competitors such as Hanes, Jerzees or Fruit of the Loom had anything but basics. In the last decade, Gildan acquired other leading brands in the wholesale apparel industry including Anvil, American Apparel, Alstyle and Comfort Colors. The brand’s ability to cater to both the mass market and niche audiences through various fabric blends and styles has solidified its reputation globally. 

Let’s get to it! Our Review & Comparison of Top Selling Gildan’s 8 Unisex T-Shirt Styles:

If you are a person who loves many details, scroll down for a thorough review of all styles. If you are in a hurry or just don’t really care about the details that much, here are my quick pick choices:

• Best for Budget: Gildan 5000
• Best for Fashion Forward Design: Anything in the Softstyle Line
• Best for Outside Workwear (Construction, Landscaping, etc.): Gildan 8000
• Best for Athletic Wear: Gildan 64000

And without further ado, here is my honest, thorough evaluation of the Gildan tees. All prices are based on a 1 color front print at the 48 quantity as of 4/30/2024.

Gildan® 5oz 100% Heavy Cotton® T-Shirt (5000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $8.25

Size: S-5XL

Available Colors: 71

Also Available in: Women’s, Youth, Long Sleeve, Short Sleeve with Pocket, Long Sleeve with Pocket, and Unisex Tank Tops

This tee was introduced in the late 1990’s and is one of Gildan’s most iconic tees. It’s one of the top selling tees in the world and is also consistently in the rotation as the cheapest tee available alongside Fruit of the Loom, Port & Company and M&O brands. Because its so massively produced, the costs are low but the value is pretty high. It’s a classic fit and offers a lot of companion styles, so its really hard to go wrong with this tee if you need a universal budget option.

When I recommend it: If a customer wants a good budget tee, this is my go-to. Yes, there are other options, some might be a few pennies cheaper, but this offers the best value. You can save a little going to M&O, but that tee is harder, doesn’t have as good of a fit and just is a yucky tee to me. It is worth the extra couple of cents to have a budget tee that you at least don’t loathe wearing. With the youth options as well, it’s a versatile choice perfect for daycares, schools and general use.   

Gildan® 6oz 100% Ultra Cotton® T-Shirt (2000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $8.99

Available Colors: 60

Also Available in: Womens, Youth, Long Sleeve, Short Sleeve with Pocket, Long Sleeve with Pocket, Unisex Tank Tops

The most classic of all, the Gildan Ultra Cotton tee defines what a basic, boxy tee is. It’s a popular choice for people looking for durable and standard fitting tees. It’s a great balance between quality and value, and with its heavier 6oz thread weight, people who don’t want a thin t-shirt will like this over their other styles.

My Honest Opinion: This is my husband’s favorite tee because of the overall larger cut. He’s got broad shoulders, and this tee is cut a little larger to start to account for the natural shrinkage that occurs with cotton. Aside from that, this tee is just real basic.  I do have tees of this style that I’ve had over 10 years and are still going strong, they do wash well and are probably the most durable tee I’ve owned. 

Why I rarely recommend it to customers: While this t-shirt is classically great, there really are better options in almost all categories, including cheaper and softer options.

Gildan® 5.6oz 50/50 Cotton/Poly Dryblend® T-Shirt (8000)

Amazon Blank Price as of 4/12/24: $9.11

Available Colors: 41

Also Available in: Youth, Long Sleeve, Pocket T-Shirt, Polo, Youth Polo, Crewneck Sweatshirt, Hooded Sweatshirt

With a standard boxy silhouette, this tee is all about keeping you cool and comfortable. It offers a mix of cotton and polyester, which allows the shirt to wick away moisture from the body while also having air flow. It’s a great choice for those that need a budget-friendly shirt for outdoor activities in a warm environment. This shirt is also prone to less shrinking and wrinkles than a fully cotton tee.

My Honest Opinion: I think this shirt really offers incredible value for what you get.  If you want a budget, boxy cut tee, this one is honestly pretty hard to beat. There are a lot of 50/50 standard tees in the marketplace, over 30, so that is really saying a lot.

This is my go-to recommendation for: Anyone working outside in the heat (Construction Workers, Lawn & Landscape Staff, etc.) and anyone needing a basic, standard tee for all genders.

Gildan® 6oz 100% Hammer® T-Shirt (H000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $11.15

Available Colors: 15

Also Available in: Long Sleeve, Pique Polo

If you like that traditionally thicker style, but want it to be softer than basic, the Hammer is right for you! It offers a standard silhouette, so you’ll have more room to move. It’s made from 100% combed ringspun cotton, which makes it soft and durable. It’s a great combination of trendy and classic.

My Honest Opinion: Its softer than the other Gildan 6oz tee, no doubt about that. But would I consider this a soft tee? Not really. I would say it’s just a little softer than basic, at best. It washes fine and wears fine, but I am not going to choose this one. I don’t like all cotton and I don’t like heavyweight…so just not the tee for me.

Gildan® 4.5oz 100% Ringspun Cotton Softstyle® T-Shirt (64000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $9.67

Available Colors: 64

Also Available in: Long Sleeve, Unisex & Women’s V-Necks, Ladies, Youth, Mens & Women’s Tanks, Mens & Women’s Polos

This tee has been around since 2018 and was designed as the new favorite fashion style – lightweight and with a more modern silhouette. While I wouldn’t classify this as “fitted”, it is less boxy than a standard tee so it’s a little bit more flattering of a style. While its branded as a 100% cotton tee, any of the colors listed as Heathers, such as Graphite Heather, Heather Indigo, Heather Purple, etc. are actually a poly/cotton blend. While most brands, like Bella+Canvas, are now separating these out into two different styles, Gildan has not made that change over yet. If you are looking for a fashion forward tee that wont break the bank, this is the perfect choice.

The Tip I always Give Customers: This tee is priced like a 100% cotton tee, which tend to be the cheapest fabric you can get. If you choose a Heather color, as noted above, you can get a 50/50 blend and all the benefits that go with it, without the added cost! The heathers are softer as well, so it’s the best bang for your buck and makes for a dang good tee for the money.

Gildan® 4.5oz 100% Ringspun Cotton Softstyle® T-Shirt (640Gildan® 5.3oz 100% Ringspun Cotton Midweight Softstyle® T-Shirt (65000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $10.37

Available Colors: 22

Also Available in: Long Sleeve, Unisex & Women’s V-Necks, Ladies, Youth, Mens & Women’s Tanks, Mens & Women’s Polos

As they say, the old is new again. People are back to requesting boxy and heavy tees again. The streetwear culture has stuck around, and it’s now influencing the product that main manufacturers are offering today. From Tik Tok to retail, boxy tees allow for body positivity and works for all genders. Insert the Gildan 65000, which really entered the marketplace in 2023.  With a modern classic fit, this tee is still soft, but offers a heavier weight than the popular 4oz retail weights. The colors in this tee are trendier with offerings like Sage, Paragon and Brown Savana.

My Honest Opinion: Its still a cotton tee, which bums me out. I wish they would have made this tee a CVC blend instead, which would have given them a leg up on some of their competitors. Its not as heavy as traditional streetwear styles such as the Shakawear or the AS Colour, so it wouldn’t be my recommendation to replace those styles with this tee. A little bit of a miss by Gildan.

Gildan® 4.6oz 60% Cotton/40% Polyester Softstyle® CVC T-Shirt (67000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $9.91

Available Colors: 26

Also Available in: Youth, Long Sleeve, Women’s T-Shirt, Women’s Tank Top

CVC stands for chief value cotton, which typically consists of a blend of fabrics, cotton and polyester. Shirts that are designated CVC tend to have more cotton than polyester, which gives it more softness than a 50/50 blend would. Adding a little bit of polyester to the product adds a little bit of moisture wicking and a little bit of durability. Its also going to be a little less wrinkle and shrink resistant than a fully cotton product. CVC’s have become one of the most preferred fabrics on the market due to these benefits.

Why this is my Overall Favorite Pick: I will always pick a cotton/poly blend over a 100% cotton tee, all day, every day. I am terrible at pulling my laundry out of the dryer as soon as it is done, so wrinkles are something I deal with. Blends are just easier to “fix” in this way. I also find they drape better on my body, tend to be softer, but best of all, my armpits feel drier because the shirt doesn’t absorb the moisture as much. Because this is the only true blended product in the Gildan line, this is my pick for comfort. As an added bonus, I love the different color options like Plumrose, Cactus and Cement.

Gildan® 5oz 100% Polyester Performance® T-Shirt (42000)

Price for 48 with a 1 color screen print on the front: $12.33

Available Colors: 21

Also Available in: N/A

Like every major brand has done, Gildan launched their performance tee in 2015 to complete with the athletic market. Until 2024, they offered 2 performance tees, this one and the 47000. A rep told us, many years ago, that the Gildan 47000 was made with the same fabrications, in the same warehouse as the Nike Dri-FIT tees. While it was a nice tee, it was still a Gildan tee with a pretty high price point for Gildan. While I don’t have any firsthand information as to why it was discontinued, I don’t think customers saw the value of the tee and couldn’t justify paying the higher price for a perceived budget brand.  Now, the 42000 Performance Tee is the only Gildan true performance option left. It has a modern classic fit, but best of all, it is designed to feel more like cotton and less shiny than many of the moisture management t-shirts on the market.

Why I am going to start selling this more:  While I do not personally ever wear the 47000, I did pull it out of our showroom and spend some time touching and feeling the product. It’s a pretty dang nice performance tee, especially for the money. I love that it’s not shiny and feels a heck of a lot better than others in the marketplace such as the super popular Sport-Tek ST350. I had forgotten how nice this tee was…honestly more people should be using this tee for performance wear.  

Are you still with me? If I have not lost you from so much information, hopefully this has helped you decide on the best Gildan t-shirt option for you. If you need help selecting from this list, or any other items, please reach out to our customer service team so we can share our wealth of knowledge with you.  All of these items will work great for customizing with your logo or design. Whether you want screen printing, embroidery, DTF or something else, you’ll find great value in these products with great printing results.

About Post Author

Kortni Remer

Kortni Remer has been an active member of the custom apparel business for 18 years, currently serving as owner and general manager one of the most successful custom apparel companies in the US. She is a business graduate of the University of Iowa and, through her work in the custom decorating business, has learned more about hats, T-shirts, inks, embroidery, and graphic design than most everyone of the planet.
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