Threadless Vs. TeePublic: Which T-Shirt Company is Best?

T-shirts are a wardrobe staple for many, allowing you to express your interests, beliefs, or sense of humor. When it comes to buying printed t-shirts online, two major players are Threadless and TeePublic.

But which t-shirt company reigns supreme? This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between Threadless and TeePublic to help you decide where to get your next tee.

A Brief Comparison Table:

Year Founded20002005
Business ModelCrowdsourced designs voted on by community. Select designs get printed.Artists upload designs for approval. All approved designs get printed.
Product RangeMainly t-shirts, some hoodies, sweatpants.Huge selection including t-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, home decor, stickers.
Design CurationVery selective curation through community voting.Minimal curation – most artist uploads accepted.
Print QualityHigh quality prints and fabrics, very durable.Lower and more inconsistent quality per customer reviews.
Artist Commissions$250 for new print, then $1.50 per tee sold.20% commission on apparel, 10-15% on other products.
Order FulfillmentMade to order, can have stockouts and delays.Proactively printed so excellent availability.
Shipping FeesFree over $50, flat $8 fee under $50.Weight-based shipping fees, free over $75.
ReturnsFree return shipping on exchanges.Customers cover return shipping costs.
Customer ServiceStrong reputation for helpful service.Mixed reviews, complaints of slow responses.
Brand VibeIndie, artsy, passionate community.Mass market, transactional.
SustainabilityMinimal sustainability programs.Carbon neutral shipping, ethical labor standards.

Overview Of Threadless And Teepublic


Founded in 2000, Threadless pioneered the concept of crowdsourced t-shirt designs. Their business model relies on an active community of independent designers submitting designs, which are then voted on by the community. If a design receives enough votes, it gets printed and sold on the Threadless site. For each t-shirt sold, the artist receives a commission.

TeePublic, founded in 2005, similarly allows independent artists to upload designs to be printed on t-shirts and other products like phone cases and stickers. However, TeePublic uses a different model – approved designs are instantly available for sale rather than requiring a community vote. TeePublic also manufactures and ships products directly rather than relying on user submissions.

Both companies ultimately offer a way for indie designers to earn money and connect with fans. But how do the two brands compare for buyers? Let’s dig into the details.

Pros And Cons Of Threadless And Teepublic

Threadless Pros

Huge selection of unique and quirky designs. With over 200,000 designs submitted since 2000, Threadless has an enormous backcatalogue of tees featuring creative art and witty phrases. The community voting process surfaces some delightfully weird and wonderful options you won’t find elsewhere.

Opportunity to support independent artists. When you buy a Threadless tee, you know the artist will receive a commission for the sale. It feels good supporting grassroots creativity.

High quality printing and fabrics. Threadless has fine-tuned its printing process over decades, resulting in vibrant, durable designs on soft cotton tees. Customers widely report stellar print quality.

Cool artist community. Threadless is all about its creative community. Along with submitting designs, artists can interact on the Threadless website and attend in-person events.

Free shipping over $50. Threadless offers free standard US shipping for orders over $50. Given their tees cost $20-$25, it’s easy to qualify if buying a few shirts.

Easy returns. Threadless accepts returns and exchanges within 30 days of purchase if the item is in original condition. Just print a pre-paid return label from their website.

Also Read: Comparison Between JiffyShirts And ShirtSpace.

Threadless Cons

Limited selection of basic tees. Threadless focuses heavily on artistic or funny designs rather than plain tees. Folks looking for essential colors or styles may find the selection lacking.

Inconsistent stock. Because Threadless fulfills orders as they are placed, some tees may be unavailable if a design sells out. Restocks can take time.

No control over design approval. Artists may feel frustrated that designs are subject to the whims of the community voting process. There’s no guarantee a submission will get printed.

Lower artist commissions. Threadless changed its commission structure in 2010, resulting in lower payouts per tee sold – many designers earn just $1.50 per shirt after the initial $250 print bonus.

TeePublic Pros


Huge range of products. Beyond t-shirts, TeePublic offers phone cases, stickers, pins, mugs, and more featuring artist designs. Great for kitting yourself out in all your fandom swag.

Easy artist onboarding. At TeePublic, artists can instantly upload designs for sale approval pending content guidelines review. No more waiting for community votes.

Bigger artist profits. TeePublic pays artists a higher commission of $5 per t-shirt sold. Other products earn 10-15% commissions. This can really add up.

Better availability. Because TeePublic prints and stocks designs on demand, popular tees almost never go out of stock. No more disappointment finding your perfect shirt unavailable.

Integrates artist shops. Artists can connect their TeePublic portfolio to their own ecommerce sites. When someone buys a product, it prints and ships from TeePublic but the transaction occurs on the artist’s site.

Sustainably made. TeePublic aims to use sustainable materials and ethical working conditions. Products are carbon neutral and plastics in packaging are being eliminated.

Also Read: Comparison Between Southern Tide And Vineyard Vines

TeePublic Cons

Less curation of designs. While great for artists, the lack of community voting means less filtration of design quality. TeePublic carries many generic clipart style designs.

Lower quality fabrics. Customer reviews reveal TeePublic’s fabric quality and print durability is inferior to Threadless, with problems like fuzzy graphics or colors bleeding in the wash.

Shipping costs. TeePublic does not offer free standard shipping like Threadless, tacking on a shipping fee even for bulk orders. They also ship slower using untracked USPS.

Returns are designer’s responsibility. If TeePublic accepts a return request, the artist’s commission is actually deducted rather than TeePublic absorbing the loss.

Less brand passion. Threadless built a lifestyle brand beloved by its loyal customers. TeePublic feels more mass-market and transactional in nature.

Less integration with designers. Other than interacting on social media, TeePublic does not facilitate much community between artists compared to Threadless’s meetups and forums.

Also watch this video about TeePublic!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is TeePublic or Redbubble better?

For shoppers, Threadless edges out TeePublic thanks to superior printing quality, customer service, and brand identity. Redbubble is also worth checking out for their huge artist selection, cool products, and ethical values similar to TeePublic’s.

How good is TeePublic quality?

TeePublic quality is decidedly hit or miss. Some customers are delighted with their purchases, while others report crooked prints, fabric bleeding, and other defects. Quality control seems inconsistent. In contrast, Threadless has maintained high standards over decades.

Are Redbubble and TeePublic the same company?

No, Redbubble and TeePublic are completely separate brands with their own distinct identities and userbases. They employ similar art-on-demand dropshipping models but Redbubble came first in 2006, a year after TeePublic’s founding.

Is TeePublic legit 2023?

Absolutely. TeePublic is a legitimate business – they are an established ecommerce company with over $150 million in venture capital funding. Any concerns about fraud or risks placing orders are unfounded. That said, buyers may still be disappointed with quality control issues like loose-fitting shirts or crooked prints.

Also Read: Comparison Between Threadless And Teespring.

The Verdict

While TeePublic has its perks, especially for artists, Threadless remains the frontrunner in 2023 for shoppers seeking creative and well-made tees. But both companies allow independent designers to monetize their talents and connect with a community of art-loving fans – and that’s an awesome thing.

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