Bella+canvas t shirt on the left side and gildan's t shirt on the right side of the image
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Gildan vs Bella Canvas: Comparing Quality and Comfort in Apparel Brands

When considering the purchase of quality t-shirts for your wardrobe or business, you may encounter a common dilemma: Gildan versus Bella Canvas. On one side, Gildan is renowned for its wide range of affordable basics that promise durability and availability in a plethora of colors and sizes. On the other hand, Bella Canvas is lauded for its premium fits and softer fabrics, catering to those who prioritize contemporary styles and sustainable manufacturing processes.

Choosing between these two brands hinges on your specific needs. If budget is a primary concern and you’re looking for a practical choice for large volume orders or promotional events, Gildan might be the brand you lean towards. Alternatively, if your focus is on fashion-forward designs and a softer feel, which might elevate the perception of quality of your clothing line or personal style, Bella Canvas could be your preference.

Both brands stand as strong contenders in their respective niches, ensuring that whatever your choice, there’s a product that aligns with your requirements. Whether you’re screen printing for a custom apparel project or seeking comfortable daily wear, understanding the nuances of Gildan and Bella Canvas offerings will guide you to make a decision that satisfies both your aesthetic and functional demands.

Comparative Overview

In assessing Gildan and Bella Canvas, you will encounter two brands with distinct histories and market influences. Each has developed a unique product range that caters to various styles within the apparel industry, serving both the retail and wholesale markets.

Brand History and Market Presence

  • Gildan is a well-established brand known for their comprehensive selection of basic apparel, which entered the market in 1984. With a strong presence, Gildan has built a significant market share by supplying a broad range of products to the wholesale sector and establishing reliable distribution channels. Their reach within the apparel industry is expansive, serving a global consumer base.
  • Bella Canvas, on the other hand, is a relatively younger brand that was founded in 1992. They have quickly made their mark with a focus on high-quality, retail-ready apparel. Bella Canvas prioritizes eco-friendly manufacturing processes and is recognized for innovation in the apparel market. You’ll find their products across various retailers, with a notable presence in both physical and online stores.

Product Range and Styles

When you consider product range and styles, you observe different focal points from both brands.

  • Gildan:
    • Offers a varied product line that includes everything from t-shirts and hoodies to socks and underwear.
    • Known for their heavyweight fabrics and durability, Gildan provides options that are conducive to screen printing and customization.
  • Bella Canvas:
    • Focuses on premium fitted apparel with softer, lightweight materials that include an array of cotton and blend options, and a wide color selection.
    • Stands out in the market for their fashion-forward and innovative designs, appealing to a demographic seeking modern cuts and fits.

The product range from both Gildan and Bella Canvas is designed to meet the needs of their diverse customer base, from basic wholesale options to premium retail fashion pieces. Gildan is your go-to for bulk and custom printing needs with their sturdy and diverse selection, while Bella Canvas offers you stylish, comfortable, and high-quality garments that align with contemporary trends.

Material and Fabric Quality

A blue colored 100 cotton t shirt used by both brands

When you’re choosing between Gildan and Bella+Canvas, understanding the differences in the material and fabric quality is crucial. Each brand has its distinct approach to fabric composition, with varying effects on sustainability, comfort, and breathability.

Cotton Composition

Both Bella+Canvas and Gildan offer t-shirts that are made with 100% cotton. However, Bella+Canvas typically uses Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton, which removes impurities and results in a smoother and more comfortable fabric. On the other hand, Gildan’s 100% cotton tees also include options like ring-spun cotton, which is softer and more durable than regular cotton but generally not as refined as the Airlume cotton used by Bella+Canvas.

Polyester Blend and Special Fabrics

In terms of blended fabrics, Bella+Canvas and Gildan incorporate polyester to add specific properties to their tees:

  • Bella+Canvas often utilizes a tri-blend fabric (a mix of cotton, polyester, and rayon), which enhances breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities, making their shirts ideal for active wear.
  • Gildan provides options like the Gildan Softstyle, which often consists of a cotton-polyester blend that offers increased durability and colorfastness.

Sustainability and Breathability

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important, and here’s how each brand holds up:

  • Bella+Canvas places a strong emphasis on sustainability, by using eco-friendly production processes, such as water reduction and energy-saving practices.
  • Gildan also commits to sustainable manufacturing, with initiatives that lower environmental impact.

As for breathability, a key factor for comfort, the fabric quality plays a pivotal role:

  • Bella+Canvas’s lighter tri-blend and Airlume cotton fabrics have superior breathability.
  • Gildan’s heavier cotton can be less breathable but offers good structure and durability for various types of wear.

Design and Style

Solid color gildans t shirt kept at a clothing store

When selecting a t-shirt, you’ll immediately notice the distinct style profiles offered by Gildan and Bella+Canvas. Each brand’s design ethos meets different needs, whether you seek the classic look or aim for the leading edge of fashion.

Bella+Canvas stands at the forefront of t-shirt fashion trends. With a keen eye on modern style, you’ll find their tees often have a more contemporary fit and finish. Options like the v-neck and a slightly slimmer profile cater to a stylish, fashion-forward audience.

Color Variations

Both brands present an impressive color palette, but their approaches to color choices are notably distinct.

  • Gildan offers a broad spectrum of solid colors. You can select from a straightforward range that covers everything from vibrant hues to traditional shades.
  • Bella+Canvas, on the other hand, excels in providing not just a wide range of colors but also unique options like heather and heather prism variants. This gives you access to subtle textures and a richer visual experience.

Customization Potential

The potential for customizing your t-shirt can’t be overstated. Here’s what you need to know about each brand:

  • Gildan tees are a blank canvas ideal for printed designs. Their sturdy fabric holds up well to screen printing, making them popular for event merchandise and promotional wear.
  • Bella+Canvas shirts are also well-suited for custom graphics but offer a more stylish base for your designs. Their lightweight and softer material can complement the graphic to create a cohesive and fashionable item.

Fit and Comfort

Extra small t shirt size of Bella Canvas T Shirt shown in the picture

When selecting a t-shirt, your comfort and fit are paramount. Both Gildan and Bella Canvas understand this, offering a variety of sizing options and comfort features to cater to individual preferences. Dive into the specifics to find your perfect t-shirt.

Sizing Options

  • Gildan T-Shirts: You have access to a broad range of sizes from small to 5XL, offering a more relaxed unisex fit. The fabric typically doesn’t stretch, holding its shape over time.
  • Bella Canvas T-Shirts: Your sizing options extend from XS to 2XL. Bella Canvas usually offers a more contemporary fit with a slight stretch for easier movement.

Comfort Features

  • Gildan: Known for their heavier cotton fabric, Gildan t-shirts are typically pre-shrunk to reduce subsequent shrinking after purchase. They provide a sturdy and durable wear.
  • Bella Canvas: Their t-shirts often feel softer to the touch with lighter weight fabric that is comfortable for all-day wear. The brand frequently utilizes combed and ring-spun cotton, which enhances softness.

T-Shirt Specifics

  • Fabric Softness: Bella Canvas t-shirts often rank high in softness due to their fine yarn. In contrast, Gildan offers a slightly rougher feel that may appeal to those preferring a traditional, sturdier t-shirt.
  • Comfortable Fit: While Gildan often leans toward a boxy, classic fit, Bella Canvas caters to those seeking a more tailored look with a comfortably snug fit. Some Bella Canvas lines incorporate a side-seam that creates a structured, fitted appearance.

Durability and Maintenance

Washing t shirt in cold water

When choosing between Bella+Canvas and Gildan, you should consider how the t-shirts will hold up over time and what kind of care they require to maintain their condition.

Longevity of Wear

Bella+Canvas t-shirts are known for their softness and a blend of cotton and polyester, which contributes to their resilience. Specifically, the Bella+Canvas 3001 model retains its shape and color after multiple washes, ensuring long-term quality and wear. On the other hand, Gildan is synonymous with durability. Their heavier cotton, like in the Gildan 5000, is reliable and stands up well to frequent use, making them a durable option.

Care Instructions

To prolong the life of your Bella+Canvas or Gildan t-shirts, proper care is essential.


  • Wash in cold water
  • Tumble dry on low heat
  • Avoid bleach to prevent fading


  • Wash in warm water
  • Can handle tumble drying on a higher heat
  • Most Gildan shirts, including the Gildan G800, are preshrunk to minimize shrinkage

Your attention to these care details will help ensure that your t-shirts remain high-quality fixtures in your wardrobe for a long time, staying true to their reputation for reliability and quality.

Printing and Customization Techniques

Printing name on gildan t shirt with the help of a machine

When you choose between Gildan and Bella Canvas for your customization needs, it’s important to understand how each brand supports various printing and embellishment techniques. Your choice can significantly impact the final look and durability of your customized t-shirts.

Screen Printing Compatibility

Gildan t-shirts are known for their sturdy construction and consistent sizing, making them a solid choice for screen printing, especially for bulk orders. The fabric’s composition and surface are suitable for a crisp transfer of ink, producing high-quality prints. A key point to note when choosing your Gildan tees for screen printing is their cotton content; higher cotton content typically allows for a better adherence of the ink.

  • Bella Canvas t-shirts, conversely, utilize a CVC blend in many of their styles – a combination of cotton and polyester. This type of blend provides a smooth surface that can be favorable for intricate designs.
GildanBella Canvas
FabricUsually 100% cotton or a cotton-heavy blendOften a CVC blend (e.g., 52% cotton, 48% polyester)
FinishGenerally a coarser knitTypically a finer, smoother knit

Bella Canvas also offers a tear-away label, which can be advantageous if you require complete customization.

Embroidery and Other Embellishments

For embroidery, the quality of the stitching and the fabric’s density are vital to ensure that your designs hold up well. Gildan G500 t-shirts, being 100% cotton, tend to provide a firm foundation for embroidered embellishments.

Bella Canvas, with their typically lighter and stretchier fabric, might require additional stabilizing techniques during the embroidery process but can yield excellent results, especially with their heather and heather prism color variants.

Consider the type of embroidered design you are planning as well as the number of stitches; this could influence your choice between a lighter Bella Canvas fabric and a more rigid Gildan shirt.

To sum up your customization options:

  • For screen printing, both Gildan and Bella Canvas are viable options, though Gildan often leads in terms of bulk processing and consistency, while Bella Canvas stands out with CVC blends conducive to detailed prints.
  • For embroidery and other embellishments, evaluate the desired quality and texture of the finished product, taking into account the fabric type and garment construction of each brand to ensure the best outcome for your customized t-shirts.

Price and Affordability

T-Shirt BrandAverage Cost (USD)Fabric QualityConstructionFitStyle Options
Gildan$3 – $10Medium-weight cotton, suitable for everyday wearDurable construction with double-needle stitching on sleeves and bottom hemRelaxed fit, suitable for a wide range of body typesVariety of styles including crew neck, V-neck, and performance tees, available for men, women, and children
Bella Canvas$5 – $15Premium quality fabrics with soft, combed cottonQuality construction with reinforced seams and neckbandsRange of fits including regular, slim, and athletic cutsWide range of styles including crew neck, V-neck, and tagless options, available in various colors and sizes

When selecting t-shirts from Bella+Canvas and Gildan, your budget plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. The following subsections will discuss the cost differences and budget considerations to help you make an informed choice.

Comparing Costs

  • Bella+Canvas: Known for their premium quality, Bella+Canvas t-shirts are generally at a higher price point. This is due to the attention to detail in the fit and finish, as well as the range of styles offered.
  • Gildan: Offers a more cost-effective solution without significantly sacrificing quality. Their t-shirts strike a balance between being affordable and maintaining a decent level of durability, making them a common choice for bulk purchases.

Budget-Friendly Choices

For those of you working within budget constraints, Gildan might be the preferred brand. Their t-shirts provide:

  • A solid option for large orders, especially when affordability is a priority.
  • Compatibility with various printing needs, making them especially budget-friendly for promotional events where pricing is a key factor.

Bella+Canvas t-shirts, while pricier, could be ideal if your budget allows for a more stylish and high-quality end product.

Versatility and Use Cases

A women showing her bella canvas shirt for daily wear and fashion

When choosing between Gildan and Bella Canvas, understanding how their T-shirts serve different purposes is crucial. These brands offer unique attributes for everyday fashion, workwear, and promotional events.

Everyday Fashion and Workwear

Gildan T-shirts are known for their durability and are commonly used as workwear, providing a comfortable uniform that can withstand regular wear and washing. They often come pre-shrunk, maintaining their size and fit over time, making them a practical choice for your daily wardrobe or uniform needs. The Gildan Softstyle series, for instance, balances comfort with a fitted look that’s suitable for both work environments and casual outings.

  • Gildan Softstyle G640 & G800: Heavy cotton options that offer classic comfort.
  • Bella Canvas 3001C & 3650: Feature fashion-forward fits and a softer feel for a more fashionable look.

Promotional Use and Events

For promotional events, the choice between Bella Canvas and Gildan may depend on your aesthetic preference and budget. Bella Canvas T-shirts are known for their trendier cuts and softer fabrics, which may appeal to an audience looking for a fashionable look. These qualities can be beneficial when creating T-shirts that people want to wear repeatedly, amplifying brand visibility beyond the event itself.

  • Gildan G5000: An all-cotton T-shirt often used for promotional purposes due to its classic feel.
  • Bella Canvas B8413: A tri-blend option designed for a more fitted and stylish appearance.

Tables for Quick Comparisons:

Everyday Fashion:

FeatureGildanBella Canvas
Fabric Type100% Cotton, Pre-shrunkCotton/Poly Blends
StyleClassic, DurableFashion-Forward, Soft
Suitable ForWork Uniforms, Casual WearCasual Outings, Trendy Looks

Promotional Use:

FeatureGildanBella Canvas
Fun FactorFunctional, FamiliarFashionable, Comfortable
Promotional UseGreat for Large Scale, Budget-FriendlyIdeal for creating a lasting impression

When selecting T-shirts for any occasion, consider these factors to ensure your needs align with the product’s offerings.

Additional Products

A t shirt kept with other wearable accessories

While both Gildan and Bella+Canvas are renowned for their t-shirts, such as the Gildan 5000 Heavy Cotton and the Bella+Canvas 3001, their extensive product ranges go far beyond just tees. They offer a variety of clothing items designed to meet your diverse fashion and print needs.

Beyond T-Shirts

Gildan’s catalog extends to a robust collection of sweatshirts and hoodies, suitable for a variety of climates and occasions. The DryBlend styles bring performance with moisture-wicking features, ensuring comfort, while Softstyle items prioritize a softer feel. Adopting Gildan’s products like sweatshirts allows you to enjoy versatility without compromising on quality.

Similarly, Bella+Canvas offers more than their flagship 3001 tees. You’ll find a selection of lightweight and comfortable sweatshirts that maintain the brand’s commitment to contemporary styles. Their hoodies are known for their fashion-forward designs, fitting into a modern, casual wardrobe effortlessly – ideal for individuals or brands seeking a premium look.

Accessories and Companion Pieces

Both brands recognize the importance of a cohesive look when it comes to ensemble creations. Gildan’s accessories range from headwear to scarves, available in various colors to complement their garment selections. These companion pieces ensure that your attire is coordinated and suitable for branding purposes.

Bella+Canvas accessories, although not as extensive, focus on quality and style. Their pieces match seamlessly with their primary product lines, like the Bella+Canvas 3001, fostering a fashionable, uniform aesthetic. This complementary aspect of their line-up is especially appealing for designers and boutiques that appreciate a well-rounded portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions

When comparing Gildan and Bella Canvas, your top considerations might include sizing, quality, material softness, and specific product lines. This section addresses common questions to help you choose the right brand for your needs.

What are the sizing differences between Gildan and Bella Canvas?

Gildan typically offers a looser fit, which some people find more comfortable, while Bella Canvas tends to have a more modern, fitted cut. It’s important to review the size charts of each brand as they can vary significantly.

How do the Bella Canvas and Gildan sweatshirts compare in terms of quality?

Bella Canvas sweatshirts are often made with combed and ring-spun cotton, resulting in a softer feel, while Gildan sweatshirts provide a sturdy and durable option that might appeal for heavy usage.

Which brand offers softer materials, Bella Canvas or Comfort Colors?

Bella Canvas is known for its soft materials, especially in their 100% combed and ring-spun cotton products, which are designed for comfort and smooth printability.

Are there notable differences in quality between Bella Canvas and Gildan garments?

Both brands have reputations for quality, but Bella Canvas generally focuses on higher-end feel and fit, while Gildan is known for its consistency and durability, especially in bulk garment offerings.

What should be considered when choosing between Bella Canvas and Gildan for men’s clothing?

For men’s clothing, consider the desired fit (modern versus traditional), the material preferences (softness versus durability), and the intended use (casual wear versus workwear).

How does the Gildan Softstyle line compare to the Bella Canvas offerings?

The Gildan Softstyle line offers a softer feel than their standard products, with lighter weight and a smoother surface, rivaling the softness that Bella Canvas products are known for.

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