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Gildan vs Hanes: The Ultimate T-Shirt Showdown

Tom Gloubovich

In the custom apparel game, two long-time heavyweight contenders consistently vie for the top spot: Hanes and Gildan. Both brands offer a wide range of quality t-shirts at competitive prices, making them popular for businesses and organizations. But which brand reigns supreme?

As your trusted experts in t-shirt fabrics and materials, we've decided to put these two titans to the test. We compare seven of their top t-shirts head-to-head, evaluating factors like fabric quality, fit, construction, softness, print surface, and overall value. For this showdown, closely examine their competing products to help you make the best choice for your custom apparel needs.

Note that this set of comparisons includes tees from the budget and standard categories. However, blank apparel from the premium category is becoming increasingly popular, creating a new standard (and customer expectation), especially among online resellers and POD storefronts. 

In this showdown, we compare Hanes and Gildan's top t-shirts across the following seven categories:

  1. Standard Tee
  2. Premium Tee
  3. Semi-Fitted Tee
  4. Budget Tee
  5. 50/50 Blend Tee
  6. Performance Tee
  7. 50/50 Blend Polo
collage of models wearing the various tees from each brand with prominent logo on each side

About the brands: Gildan vs. Hanes

While we've focused on comparing the individual t-shirts from Hanes and Gildan, it's also worth taking a closer look at the companies themselves. Understanding each brand's history, values, and market position can provide valuable insights when choosing the right apparel partner for your custom printing needs.

Promotional style image from Gildan of a group of models, plus the company logo

Gildan

Gildan is a younger company than Hanes, founded in 1984 in Montreal, Canada. Initially focused on manufacturing children's apparel, Gildan quickly expanded into the adult activewear market and has since become a major player in the global apparel industry. The company is known for its vertical integration strategy, controlling every step of the production process, from raw materials to finished garments, allowing for greater efficiency and cost control.

Gildan has invested significantly in modern manufacturing facilities and sustainable practices, positioning itself as an innovative and environmentally responsible apparel manufacturer. The company's strong presence in the wholesale and promotional markets, competitive pricing, and wide product range have made it a popular choice for custom printing projects of all sizes.

promotional style image from Hanes of a group of models, plus the company logo

Hanes

Hanes is a well-established American apparel company with a history dating back to 1901. Originally known for its comfortable and durable underwear, Hanes has since expanded its product line to include a wide range of clothing items, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, and activewear. The brand is known for its commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction, consistently delivering reliable and comfortable products across its various divisions.

Hanes has a strong presence in the wholesale and promotional apparel market, offering a diverse selection of blank garments for custom printing. The company's reputation for quality and its long-standing partnerships with major retailers have made it a trusted choice for businesses and organizations seeking a reliable apparel supplier.

The t-shirt matchups: Hanes vs Gildan

While these competing t-shirts share many similarities, there are some notable differences that set them apart. Here, we explore each contender's unique features, strengths, and weaknesses, helping you determine which brand is top in each category. Let the showdown begin.

The Standard Tee: Gildan "Ultra Cotton" vs. Hanes "Authentic-T"

Look no further than the Standard Tee category when you need a reliable, no-frills T-shirt that gets the job done. These shirts are the workhorses of the custom apparel world, offering a solid balance of quality, durability, and affordability.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

Both the Gildan "Ultra Cotton" G200 and the Hanes "Authentic-T" 5250T are made from 100% cotton and feature a medium/heavy 6 oz. fabric weight. They come in a classic, straightforward fit and are available in sizes S-5XL. These tees compete with similar offerings from brands like Fruit of the Loom, Anvil, and Jerzees at a comparable price point.

Our Pick: Gildan

We consider the Gildan "Ultra Cotton" G200 as this showdown's winner. While the Hanes "Authentic-T" boasts slightly better construction and feel, the Ultra Cotton comes extremely close in quality while offering a more extensive color selection (62 vs. 30) and a lower price point. The Ultra Cotton is known for its consistent stock availability and even has a women's version. These factors, combined with its status as our best-selling T-shirt, make it the clear choice for the Standard Tee category.

The Premium Tee: Gildan "Hammer" vs. Hanes "Beefy-T" 

When quality and name recognition are top priorities, Premium Tees are the way to go. These two shirts offer superior construction, heavier fabric weights, and a noticeably softer feel than their more standard counterparts, making them ideal for creating high-end custom apparel that leaves a lasting impression.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

The Hanes "Beefy-T" 5180 and the Gildan "Hammer" H000 are both constructed from 6.1 oz, 100% ringspun cotton, which provides a smoother, more durable printing surface compared to non-ringspun cotton. They feature a classic fit and are available in sizes S-5XL, competing with other premium offerings from brands like Champion and Comfort Colors.

Our Pick: Hanes

In the Premium Tee showdown, we give the edge to the Hanes "Beefy-T" 5180. While the Gildan "Hammer" is undoubtedly a high-quality T-shirt, the Beefy-T has a long-standing reputation for excellence and name recognition. As one of the pioneers of ringspun cotton in the custom apparel industry, Beefy-T has built a loyal following over the years. It also offers nearly twice as many color options as the Gildan Hammer (53 vs. 27), giving you more design flexibility. Although the Beefy-T comes at a slightly higher price point, its proven track record, popularity, and extensive color range make it our top choice for Premium Tees.

The Semi-Fitted Tee: Gildan "SoftStyle" vs. Hanes "Perfect-T"

Semi-fitted tees are the perfect choice for a more modern, fashion-forward look. Also known as fashion fit, retail fit, or slim fit, these tees offer a more tailored, streamlined silhouette that flatters various body types and elevates the overall appearance of your custom apparel.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

The Gildan "SoftStyle" G640 and the Hanes "Perfect-T" 4980 (aka the “Nano") are made from lightweight 4.5 oz ringspun cotton, providing a softer feel and enhanced printability compared to heavier, non-ringspun fabrics. They are available in sizes XS-4XL and have women's versions, making them versatile options for a wide range of customers. These tees compete with other semi-fitted offerings from brands like Bella+Canvas and Next Level at a similar price point.

Our Pick: Hanes

We give the Hanes "Perfect-T" 4980 a slight advantage in a close race. While both shirts offer comparable quality, fit, and price, the Perfect-T boasts marginally better construction and a superior print surface without a higher price tag. The Gildan “SoftStyle” G640 does offer a wider color selection (65 vs. 46), but the Perfect-T's overall performance and value make it our top pick for the Semi-Fitted Tee category. Although not entirely flawless, the Hanes "Perfect-T" comes out on top in this showdown.

The Budget Tee: Gildan "Heavy Cotton" vs. Hanes "ComfortSoft"

When you need to produce a large quantity of custom t-shirts without breaking the bank, Budget Tees are the perfect solution. These tees balance affordability and quality, making them ideal for large-scale events, promotions, or giveaways where cost-effectiveness is key.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

The Hanes "ComfortSoft" 5280 and the Gildan "Heavy Cotton" G500 are both made from 100% cotton and feature a mid-weight fabric (5.2 oz and 5.3 oz, respectively). They come in a classic fit and are available in sizes S-5XL, competing with other budget-friendly options from brands like Jerzees, Anvil, and Delta.

Our Pick: Gildan

In the battle of the Budget Tees, we crown the Gildan "Heavy Cotton" G500 as the winner. While the Hanes "ComfortSoft" is a solid choice for its price point, the Gildan Heavy Cotton offers similar quality with significantly more color options (70 vs. 46) at an even lower price. The Heavy Cotton's combination of affordability, variety, and reliability has made it one of the most popular tees in our catalog for bulk orders. Its unbeatable value makes it our top pick in the Budget Tee category.

The 50/50 Blend Tee: Gildan "DryBlend" vs. Hanes "EcoSmart"

50/50 Blend Tees, also known as cotton/poly blends, offer the best of both worlds by combining the softness and breathability of cotton with the moisture-wicking, wrinkle-resistant properties of polyester. These versatile tees provide a comfortable, low-maintenance option for custom apparel at a price point that won't break the bank.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

The Gildan "DryBlend" G800 and the Hanes "EcoSmart" 5170 are both composed of a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend and feature a classic fit. They have a similar fabric weight (5.5 oz for DryBlend, 5.2 oz for EcoSmart) and are available in sizes S-4XL. These tees compete with other 50/50 blends from brands like Jerzees, Anvil, and Delta at a comparable price point.

Our Pick: Gildan

In the 50/50 showdown, we choose Gildan "DryBlend" G800 as the winner. While the Hanes "EcoSmart" is a respectable contender, the DryBlend offers the same great features at a lower price point. The DryBlend also boasts Gildan's proprietary moisture-wicking technology, a slightly heavier fabric weight (5.5 oz vs. 5.2 oz), and a wider color selection. These factors combined make the Gildan "DryBlend" our top pick for the 50/50 Blend Tee category.

The Performance Tee: Gildan "Adult Performance" vs. Hanes "Cool DRI with FreshIQ"

When it comes to athletic wear and outdoor events, Performance Tees are the go-to choice. These moisture-wicking, quick-drying shirts are designed to keep the wearer cool, dry, and comfortable, even during intense physical activity. They're perfect for custom apparel projects related to sports teams, fitness clubs, and outdoor adventures.

side-by-side product images/model with product name and some details

Similarities

Both the Gildan "Adult Performance" G420 and the Hanes "Cool DRI with FreshIQ" 4820 are made from 100% polyester and feature moisture-wicking technology to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. They also offer anti-microbial properties to combat odors and maintain freshness. Both tees have double-needle stitching for durability and are transitioning to tear-away labels for added comfort.

Our Pick: Gildan

In the Performance Tee showdown, we give the nod to the Gildan "Adult Performance" G420. While both tees offer excellent performance features, the Gildan stands out for its incredibly soft, almost-cotton-like feel, thanks to its jersey knit construction. This unique texture sets it apart from other performance tees, which can sometimes feel stiff or synthetic. Additionally, the Gildan "Adult Performance" is significantly more affordable than the Hanes "Cool DRI with FreshIQ" ($7.37 vs. $10.99), making it a more budget-friendly option for large custom orders. Although the Hanes tee offers a slightly higher UPF rating, the Gildan's combination of comfort, performance, and value makes it our top pick in the Performance Tee category.

The 50/50 Blend Polo: Gildan "Jersey Polo" vs. Hanes "EcoSmart Jersey Knit"

Polo shirts are a classic choice for a more professional or upscale look, and 50/50 Blend Polos offer the perfect combination of comfort, durability, and style. These versatile shirts are great for corporate events, golf outings, or any occasion that requires a step up from a basic tee.

Side-by-side product images, model with product name and some details

Similarities

The Hanes "EcoSmart Jersey Knit" 054 and the Gildan "Jersey Polo" G880 are both made from a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester, offering the softness of cotton with the wrinkle-resistance and moisture-wicking properties of polyester. They feature a classic polo style with a three-button placket, rib knit cuffs, and a double-needle hemmed bottom for durability.

Our Pick: Hanes

In the 50/50 Blend Polo faceoff, we choose the Hanes "EcoSmart Jersey Knit" 054 as the winner. While both polos offer similar features and quality, the Hanes have a few key advantages. First, it has a lower price point ($7.61 vs. $8.93), making it a more budget-friendly option for custom orders. Second, the Hanes polo is made with up to 5% recycled polyester from plastic bottles, giving it a slight edge in terms of sustainability. Using recycled materials and sustainably sourced USA-grown cotton makes the Hanes "EcoSmart Jersey Knit" a more eco-conscious choice. Although the Gildan "Jersey Polo" has a slightly heavier fabric weight (6 oz. vs. 5.2 oz.), the Hanes polo's combination of affordability and environmental friendliness ultimately wins out in this showdown.

Summary Comparison Chart

The choice is yours

In this ultimate showdown between Hanes and Gildan, we've compared seven of their most popular T-shirt categories head-to-head. While both brands offer high-quality, reliable options for custom apparel, each matchup revealed unique strengths and differences.

Thanks to its quality, affordability, and variety combination, Gildan came out on top in the Standard Tee, Budget Tee, 50/50 Blend Tee, and Performance Tee categories. On the other hand, Hanes secured wins in the Premium Tee, Semi-Fitted Tee, and 50/50 Blend Polo categories, showcasing its commitment to superior construction and eco-friendly materials.

Ultimately, the choice between Hanes and Gildan depends on your specific needs and priorities for each custom apparel project. Whichever brand you choose, Ninja Blanks is your go-to source for high-quality blank t-shirts at competitive prices. When it comes to bringing your designs to life, Ninja Transfers offers the best DTF transfers and supplies in the industry, ensuring your custom apparel looks great and lasts wash after wash.

If you'd rather leave the printing to the professionals, Ninja Printhouse has you covered. Our expert team handles everything from start to finish, delivering top-notch custom apparel with unbeatable service and turnaround times. So pick your favorite tees, and let's create something amazing together.

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