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How Much Does It Cost to Start a T-Shirt Business in 2023?

Do you want to know exactly how much it cost to start a t-shirt business? If YES, here is a detailed cost analysis for starting a t-shirt printing business and raising finance.

In the United States, a fun graphic T-shirt can run from $8 to $30. However, most t-shirt businesses price their goods according to the customer they wish to sell it to. A t-shirt sold to a large national retailer may see a profit of one or two dollars per unit.

A custom-made t-shirt might profit a thousand dollars. Loads of factors affect the total start – up capital required to start a clothing line business.

Some of the factors that can influence the startup capital required to start a t-shirt business are; the location and country where you intend starting the business, the size of the business and of course your target market or niche. These are the key areas where we will spend our start – up capital:

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Estimated Cost Breakdown for Starting a T-shirt Business

  • The Total Fee for Registering the Business / Incorporating the Business
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses (Health department license and business license)and permits (Fire department permit, Air and water pollution control permit, and Sign permit et al)
  • Budget for publicity and advertisement of our brand
  • Cost for hiring Consultant
  • Insurance (general liability, theft, workers’ compensation and property casualty) coverage at a total premium
  • Cost of accounting software, CRM software and Payroll Software
  • Cost for leasing facility for our production factory
  • Cost for facility remodeling
  • Cost for purchasing initial supply of fabrics, racks, hangers and packaging materials
  • Phone and Utilities (gas, sewer, water and electric)deposits
  • Operational cost for the first 3 months (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al)
  • The cost for Start-up inventory
  • Cost for sewing machines and other sewing equipment and tools
  • The cost of Launching a Website
  • The cost for our grand opening party
  • The cost for the purchase of furniture and gadgets (Printers, Telephone, vacuum cleaner, tables and chairs et al)
  • Miscellaneous supplies
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If you intend starting your own clothing line business in the united states, then you would need an estimate of;

  • $500,000 to $1M to launch a small scale T-shirt business
  • $1M to $2M to launch a medium scale T-shirt business
  • 5M and above to launch a large scale T- shirt business

In the United States, if you only want to sell a few hand-painted shirts through an online boutique, you may not need much more than $1,000 to get you up and running if you own a sewing machine and computer. But if you plan to go further and grow a brand, then expect to shell out a minimum of $500,000 for the initial investment for a small clothing line.

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Note that the above number includes the cost of the design, branding, incorporation, manufacturing facility, marketing and other expenses. If you wish to compete with the big-name brands and appear in every mall across the country, then this cost can become breathtaking. Nonetheless, below are key factors that will influence the cost of starting a t-shirt business in the United States.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Opening a T-Shirt Business

  1. The Manufacturing Costs

One of the most crucial factors that will determine the cost of starting and running a good t-shirt business is the manufacturing cost. If you don’t make your shirts yourself, you will have to decide how many pieces you want to order from the manufacturer because most of them can give you discounts based on the number of your orders.

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In addition, the country or the location of your manufacturer can also affect the quotation of your orders. Also note that getting your shirts or the materials from any other place in the USA might cost more than getting it manufactured from China.

  1. The Cost of Raw Materials

Another crucial factor that will ultimately influence your startup cost will be the cost of raw materials. Once your items are produced, you will pay a sum of money but you should remember that the cost of production also includes the cost for the fabric, the packaging, labels, etc. So if you want a really high quality of fabric, expect your production cost to be higher.

  1. License and Registration Costs

Starting a business in the United States without proper documentation and fulfilling the required legal obligations as stipulated in your state or region is a crime. For your business to be legally recognized, you have to register it in your local government. Be prepared for fees which will depend on the policies of your county, state or region.

  1. Marketing Costs

When it comes to any cloth related business, marketing is essential and will surely influence the amount of startup capital you need. For your brand to get more attention, you need to invest in a good marketing strategy. Note there are various ways to do this like investing in advertisements, search engine optimization, and product discounts.

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Your marketing method should be effective, especially when you are launching the brand. You might spend around $1000 on marketing techniques, but it will still depend on the methods that you will use.

  1. Modelling and Photography

To efficiently boost your brand, especially in a business as captivating as the T-Shirt business, you have to show your customers what you have and how attractive they are. You need to show that your items will look great with your customers.

This is why hiring a professional photographer and a model should be one of the things that you should consider. They will make sure that your products will look great in every photo.

  1. The Overhead Costs

Marketing, design, and manufacturing will run hand in hand competing for your operational dollars, but do not forget the cost of actually running a business. Note that you will also have to spend on things like the lighting, wages, telephone costs, and transportation costs.

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It is easy to forget these little things, but as you work on your business, the overhead cost can also increase, so don’t forget to set aside a budget for these things.

  1. Cost of Design

Although you can create your own t-shirt designs, but if you don’t have time or you are looking to stay trendy, you then need the help of professional designers. The cost of each design can range from $10 to $2000. The amount that you’ll be charged with depends on how complicated the design is.

  1. Other Costs

Starting and running any clothing related business is not easy, no matter the niche or demographic you choose to serve. It is like having a child that you need to take care of and invest in so that it will grow. Other fees you will need to contend with include:

  • Delivery Fees
  • Website creation fees
  • Distribution Costs
  • Product Launching Costs
  • Endorsement Fees
  • Storage fees
  • Product Sourcing
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Financing your T-Shirt Printing Business

It is one thing to come up with a fantastic and highly workable business idea; it is entirely a different kettle of fish to hit the ground running. Finance is the lifeline of any business; as such money will be required to get a lot of things in place prior to starting a business.

There are some forms of businesses that can be started with little or money and starting a clothing line business is not one of them. If you want to start a clothing line business, you will need to raise start – up capital. This start-up capital could be raised through diverse avenues.

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There are various means of generating start – up capital to setup a new business. Most often, people raise their start – up capital from personal savings or by obtaining soft loans from family members and friends.

If you intend starting your clothing line business on a large scale and you don’t have the money to finance the business, you can apply for loan from your bank or you can invite investors to partner with you. There are also angel investors who may be attracted to your business, once they see that your business plan is attractive and promising.


Starting a t-shirt business is exciting, however; it is not just all about the fun. Just like every other business enterprise, you will need to invest effort and prepare money for all the fees. Note that the overall cost of establishing your business will still depend on you and the mode you choose to start and sell your products.

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Do not forget that success doesn’t depend entirely on the money that you’ll be shelling out for the business because, at the end of the day, there are other factors like the quality of your products and the quality of your services. Owing to the factors analyzed above, expect to spend $1,000 to $5000 for a medium sized t-shirt business.

Howbeit, if you are planning to build a larger t-shirt clothing line, then expect the cost to be around $25,000 to $50,000.