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Hanes and Gildan are two of the biggest players in the blank apparel business, both producing quality apparel at affordable prices and competing directly with each other’s products in this space. With such similar items, how do you decide which one to use for your custom tees?
To help you decide, we put their top 5 T-shirts in head-to-head matchups. We evaluated the fabric, fit, construction, softness, drape, print surface, and overall quality. Then we checked prices, available sizes, and colors for each style, looking at these products from every angle.
Which ones are better than the other? Turn to the T-shirt nerds. We’ve got the results.
Hanes vs Gildan: the T-shirt matchups
We compared their most popular T-shirts against each other in 5 categories:
- The Classic Tee: Hanes “Authentic-T” vs. Gildan “Ultra Cotton”
- The Fitted Tee: Hanes “Perfect-T” vs. Gildan “SoftStyle”
- The Premium Tee: Hanes “Beefy-T” vs. Gildan “Hammer”
- The Budget Tee: Hanes “ComfortSoft” vs. Gildan “Heavy Cotton”
- The 50/50 Tee: Hanes “EcoSmart” vs. Gildan “DryBlend”
Overall, the competing shirts share many of the same qualities. These tees are closely matched. Oftentimes, these brands will follow each other’s moves. For example, they both now use pre-shrunk cotton and are currently transitioning to tear-away labels.
In most of these matchups, either is a solid choice. But there are some differences. Here’s a graphic showing you those at a glance, with our recommendations:
Classic T-Shirt: Hanes “Authentic-T” vs Gildan “Ultra Cotton”
The basic, the standard, the Classic Tee. When you’re not really picky, and you just want a straightforward, go-to T-shirt, you’re looking at T-shirts like these. No bells, no whistles, just a solid, well-constructed T-shirt that prints great and won’t break the bank on larger orders.
The Classic Tees from Hanes and Gildan are both 100% cotton, 6 oz (medium/heavy) with a standard/classic fit, budget-to-mid-range price point, and available in sizes S-5XL. They compete with tees at a similar price point from brands like Fruit of The Loom, Anvil, and Jerzees.
Which is better? We recommend the Gildan “Ultra Cotton” (G200). While the Hanes “Authentic-T” (5250T) has a slightly better construction and feel, the Ultra Cotton comes very close in quality, has a bigger selection of colors (62), and a lower price point. It’s known for dependability with stock, and it also has a women’s version. For all those reasons, it’s our best-selling T-shirt. And our pick for this category.
How do these Classic Tees compare to the other categories?
- The cotton is not ringspun like the Fitted Tees (a superior printing surface), but the price point is lower.
- The fit is a standard/classic fit, which is boxier than Fitted Tees and without the tapered sleeves.
- Thicker fabric than the Budget Tees, and a slightly higher quality and price point.
- No polyester like the 50/50 Tees, and so a little more prone to shrinkage and wrinkles.
Fitted T-shirt: Hanes “Perfect-T” vs Gildan “SoftStyle”
Stepping up to a higher price point and quality, we have the Fitted Tee category, also known as fashion fit, slim fit, retail fit, or semi-fitted. When you want a more lightweight, soft, modern, merch-ready look, go with Fitted Tees.
These are both 4.5 oz ringspun cotton, available in XS-4XL, and share the same price. They both have women’s versions and compete with other fashion-fit T-shirts from brands like Bella+Canvas and Next Level but at a slightly lower price point.
Which is better? We recommend the Hanes “Perfect-T” (4980). This one was close– almost a toss up. On overall quality, fit, and price, both shirts are comparable. While the Gildan “SoftStyle” (G640) has more colors available (65 vs 46), the Hanes Perfect-T has slightly better construction and print surface–and without a higher price tag. The Perfect-T is not totally perfect, but it’s our pick for this category.
How do these Fitted Tees compare to the other categories?
- The fit is slimmer and tailored than all the rest, with tapered, more flattering sleeves.
- Lower price point than Premium Tees, but higher than Classic, 50/50, and Budget Tees.
- These tees and the Premium Tees feature ringspun cotton, which makes for a smoother print surface.
- Lighter weight fabric than all the rest.
Premium T-shirt: Hanes “Beefy-T” vs. Gildan “Hammer”
The highest price point of the five categories, these Premium Tees feature heavier weight material, higher-quality construction, classic fit, and a superior print surface, combined with name-brand recognition. When you want top-shelf, durable T-shirts that demonstrate value, go with Premium.
These are both 6.1 oz, 100% combed ringspun cotton and come in sized S-5XL. They compete with other Premium T-shirts like Champion and American Apparel.
Which is better? We recommend the Hanes “Beefy-T” (5180). While the Gildan “Hammer” (H000) is a quality T-shirt, it’s the new kid on the block. The Hanes Beefy-T is at a higher price point, but there’s no denying its name recognition, popularity, and trust. A pioneer of ringspun cotton, it’s been around since the early days of custom printing, and has twice as many colors than the Hammer (53 vs 27), making it an easy pick for this category.
How do these Premium Tees compare to the other categories?
- A heavier-weight fabric than all the rest.
- The standard/classic fit is not as fashion-forward as the Fitted Tees.
- Overall higher quality, durability, and print surface than the rest.
Budget T-shirt: Hanes “ComfortSoft” vs. Gildan “Heavy Cotton”
The Budget T-shirt category is self-explanatory. The question is, how much quality can you get for the lowest prices on custom tees? These are the ones you look to when you have a large order of promotional T-shirts or have a one-off event featuring souvenir T-shirts that may not get much use.
Both are 100% cotton and mid-weight range (5.2 oz for Hanes and 5.3 oz for Gildan) and come in sizes S-5XL. They compete with other Budget Tees from Jerzees, Anvil, and Delta.
Which is better? We recommend the Gildan “Heavy Cotton” (G500). While the Hanes “Comfort Soft” (5280) is a quality T-shirt for the price, so is the Gildan Heavy Cotton, and with many more colors to choose from (70 vs 46). Plus, it’s significantly more affordable. The most bang for your buck, and one of the most popular tees in our catalog for bulk orders. For those reasons, it’s our pick for the Budget category.
How do these Budget Tees compare to the other categories?
- The lowest price point of all the tees we looked at.
- The standard/classic fit is not as fashion-forward as Fitted Tees.
- Not ringspun cotton, so the print surface is not as smooth as Premium and Fitted Tees.
50/50 T-shirt: Hanes “EcoSmart” vs Gildan “DryBlend”
Finally, we look at 50/50 Tees, also known as cotton/poly blends. These T-shirts combine the softness of cotton with the more flexible, wicking, and anti-wrinkle properties of polyester– at a price point close to Budget. When you want the best of both worlds, you go with a 50/50.
Both of these are classic/standard fit, in the mid-range of fabric weight (5.2 for Gildan, 5.5 for Gildan), and come in S-4XL. They compete with other 50/50 Tees from brands like Jerzees, Anvil, and Delta.
Which is better? We recommend the Gildan “50/50 DryBlend” (G800). While the Hanes “EcoSmart” (5170) is a decent shirt, the Gildan 50/50 has the same qualitites for a lower price point, and features the proprietary DryBlend fabric for moisture-wicking action. It also has more colors available and is a slightly heavier fabric weight (5.5 oz vs 5.2 oz). For those reasons, the Gildan is our pick for this category.
How do these 50/50 tees compare to the other categories?
- The price point is lower than most and not much higher than Budget Tees.
- The polyester adds properties of flexibility, anti-wrinkle, anti-stain, wicking, etc.
- Not ringspun cotton, so the print surface is not as smooth as Premium and Fitted.
- Standard/classic fit, so the sleeves flare like all the others except for Fitted.
Hanes vs. Gildan: Conclusion
T-shirts from Hanes and Gildan are evenly matched in quality, price, and fit. Overall, Hanes has a slightly higher quality and price point, while Gildan has better availability of colors and sizes. If quality and name brand are important, choose Hanes. If you’re more concerned with your budget, choose Gildan.
If you’re looking for premium tees with a fashion fit, check out Bella+Canvas vs. Next Level: Comparing Their Top 5 T-shirts.
Hope this was helpful information. Now that you understand the difference between these brands, it’s time to create your own custom tees. As always, reach out with any questions!
About the Author
A graduate of the Multimedia program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Imri Merritt is an industry veteran with over 20 years of graphic design and color separations experience in the screen printing industry.