FrontpageT-Shirt industry

Looking at 7 brands that fight in the t-shirt industry “ring”

By June 14, 2016 2 Comments

First, let’s define the term “brands” for the t-shirt industry:

  • We’re including networks that have a focus on t-shirts, not just stand-alone t-shirt stores.
  • The top is built based on a series of factors like Alexa, SEMRush indexes, and Google trends.
  • We’re including only the graphic t-shirts. This means, no Lacoste, US Polo ASSN., GAP, etc.

We started with a list of brands we already knew from TeeHunter and there are quite a few A-HA! moments.

Top t-shirt brands schema

Gut feelings before pulling the Alexa report, in the order of the sizes:

  • We expected RedBubble (2,275) to be the largest within our group, they are.
  • TeeSpring (2,827) is right up there with RedBubble, we thought they’d be half the size. We’ll check teespring closer below.
  • Society6 (5,109) is really that big? Awesome.
  • Threadless (17,169) has been for a long time on the market, thought they were bigger.
  • DesignByHumans (19,100) are roughly the same size as Threadless. We thought they were smaller.
  • TeePublic (23,637) is just behind DBH, climbing fast. They are quite new though so I guess we expected the traffic to be smaller.
  • Jinx (40,539), we thought they were wwaaaaayyy bigger. Sorry, Jinx!
  • TeeTurtle (63,464) is probably the biggest pleasant surprise. I did not expect that amount of traffic. Double thumbs up to Ramy & Co.

Now the numbers next to the brands’ names are the position in the global rank, meaning that RedBubble is the #2,275th most visited site in the world. The lower the number, the better.


Famously, our number 1 in the list, though declining in ranking over the past 30 days according to this Alexa graph.

It’s most known for “Stickers” in the short-tail keyword search rather than T-Shirts.

A true competitor for them would have been a site like Zazzle or CafePress. While Zazzle is more into Etsy’s space, we can include Zazzle in our search.

Screenshot 2016-06-14 17.18.38

Are they selling t-shirts or doing Synchronised Gymnastics? Zazzle, while larger than RedBubble, seems to experience an overall traffic slope as well. Which gets us thinking, is this seasonal?


They kind of confirm the seasonal theory, check this graph out:

Screenshot 2016-06-14 17.22.54

According to SEMRush, both RedBubble and TeeSpring are climbing higher in Google search results and the organic traffic is doing well, no penalties here.

TeeSpring’s main keywords, “Dragon Ball Z t-shirts” – there’s a nice one for anime lovers. “T-Shirt design” and “T-shirt maker”, oh I’ll bet it was quite an effort to pull this out because I can’t think of two more competitive keywords in the t-shirt industry.

Curious who number one is? At least from my datacenter, for “t-shirt design” we have

Screenshot 2016-06-14 17.28.10


They have the most amazing affiliate program that’s out there. Period. It’s that simple, you just add a ?curator=youruser to the end of any link on their site, if someone else buys a t-shirt, you get credit. No setups, no complicated APIs, it just works. That’s the reason why we believe Society6 is so big.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.31.27 PM

Same seasonal trend, I’ll stop here with these screenshots from Alexa.

Keywords known for: tapestry, and iphone cases

The tapestry one is really really big, even bigger than the iphone cases one.


They probably have the best t-shirts out there, best design, best quality. Yes, they are pricier, but again, they cater to a different audience. I probably wished, deep inside my heart, that Threadless would be bigger, just because they have kick ass designs, like this one.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.36.33 PM

Keywords they are famous for: cool t-shirts, cool shirts, do a barrel roll. What?


We’re biased because DesignByHumans was the first or second brand we started TeeHunter with. I like how they moved into the “licensed” area, whereas the majority of the top players, yes RedBubble too, just plays along and removes copyright infringement t-shirts when they get reported by a DMCA, but nothing pro-active. DesignByHumans on the other hand curates the t-shirts better.

Keywords known for: star wars t-shirts — that’s because of the licensed thing I mentioned on top. Good going, guys!


They are playing more into RedBubble’s space, although smaller than DesignByHumans. However.. however, DesignByHumans’ domain is registered in 2006, while TeePublic is in 2012. They did pretty good for just 4 years in. The truth is, they got a nice start based on their experience with BustedTees, because well.. BustedTees is TeePublic. The one thing you’ll love about TeePublic is that you find t-shirts for any topic and at the same time the curation is done pretty decent. I have to scroll down pages on RedBubble to find a quality shirt but that’s not the case with TeePublic. Both are powered by their users through submitting designs.

Keywords they are known for: just do it, dbz t-shirt (reminds me of TeeSpring), deadpool shirt

Here’s something interesting about their Alexa. They are actually growing. Sort of like, screwing any seasonal disadvantage:

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.44.39 PM

Ok so I’m guessing somebody knows how to promote things, be it SEO or affiliate. They are worth keeping an eye out for.


They are known for gaming swag, the go-to source for licensed and <insert any game here>.

Growing, just like TeePublic, so I’m guessing they rely a lot on the upcoming E3 and Gamescom etc.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.46.54 PM

Keywords known for: zerg rush (starcraft fans), minecraft lego (minecraft fans) and I’m sure there’s more in the long-tail.


They are known for the cute pocket t-shirts, or cute whatsoever. While we were looking at the graphs and thought they were smaller, truth is they were actually way bigger. Wait, what?

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.49.34 PM

-25,328. That’s big.¬†Organic traffic seems steady as well so there must have been a campaign of sorts that ended.

Keywords they are known for: on wednesdays we wear pink, turtle t-shirts — Clearly there rely on long-tail.


We feel that networks and marketplaces where users have are the ones uploading content (sometimes even borderline legal on the trademark) are doing fantastic. They have the most scale out there. On the other hand, sites that have a tight curation process, like Threadless and DesignByHumans might have a better return rate on their customers. We don’t have inside data, but we’re planning on extending if this is an article you enjoyed. How do we know that? Comment below, let us know if we missed anything obvious, if there are other players we should have included, we want to hear out from you.


Looking at 7 brands that fight in the t-shirt industry “ring”
5 votes, 3.80 avg. rating (73% score)

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Bill says:

    Hi Sergiu. This is a great article. I was wondering how sites like Zazzle, Cafe Press, etc fit into this. I know that they’re involved in much more than just apparel, but how do they compare with these 7? At a quick glance, Society6 seems fairly similar to Zazzle.

    And thanks for fixing the comment system!

    • Sergiu says:

      Sure thing, thanks for notifying me.

      We use Society6 as an affiliate at TeeHunter and they’re performing really good, the conversation rate is good which means their system is definitely fine tuned. Zazzle and CafePress are on the horizon as well.

      Traffic wise, the top looks like this: Zazzle / Cafepress / Society6.
      You don’t really need to be on the biggest platform to sell, I strongly believe in this. You just have to fit the theme of the network and what they’re all about.

Leave a Reply