Custom hoodies are sweatshirts with unique designs printed on them, often created by an artist, photographer, or graphic designer. For those looking to share their art with the world or to pursue a new business venture, custom hoodies are easy to sell if you know what you're doing. It starts with creating an ecommerce store using a platform like Etsy or Shopify and working with a print on demand (POD) provider who can fulfill orders for you, so you can focus on creating the magic.
Hoodies are a popular clothing item because they are versatile, comfortable for lounging and wearing away from home, and are embraced as fashionable in nearly every country around the globe. In addition to being soft and comfortable, the designs you create on your hoodies allow consumers to express themselves.
Whether you want to create unisex hoodies, men’s hoodies, women’s hoodies, or hoodies for kids and babies, your designs should be creative, high-quality, and unique. Keep reading to learn the factors you should consider to create a hoodie design that sells.
Main takeaways from this article:
Selling custom hoodies can be a lucrative business endeavor for ecommerce entrepreneurs. Using original hoodie designs that cater to your audience’s interests and personal characteristics increases your chances of success.
Personalized, inspirational, and lighthearted designs sell the best because they resonate with your target audience on an emotional level. Explore our top ten hoodie design categories and ideas.
Sourcing high-quality products and working with a print on demand (POD) provider that puts people and planet first can help ensure customer satisfaction while minimizing environmental impact.
Factors to consider when creating your hoodie design
create hoodie designs
Determine your target audience: When creating a unique style and design, having a demographic in mind is essential. Ask yourself: Who are your hoodies designed for? Is there a specific age group or demographic you are going after? You may target females over males, new parents or pet parents, certain industries, or specific cultural groups. Knowing your target audience is essential to keep you focused as you work on designs, and as a bonus, it makes marketing your work much more manageable, too.
Ensure your design is original: You may be surprised how many shops and sellers get flagged for copyright infringement. When crafting your visuals, get permission from the copyright holder to use the image, use royalty-free images, or design from scratch to avoid any issues. If you're using borrowed images, we recommend consulting with a lawyer to ensure you comply and understand your rights as a designer and seller of the design.
Think through the design elements: Crafting an authentic design takes much more planning and strategy than just creating the art. Plan out the various aspects of the hoodie and the design, including the materials and colors you'll use for the sweatshirts, how they'll be printed, and the design color scheme. Ensure these factors are cohesive and that your color scheme and visual elements all work in harmony so you can sell a product you are proud of.
Source high-quality products: The fashion industry is often criticized for its lack of sustainability - don't be a part of the problem. Contribute to the solution by choosing high-quality organic hoodies that will last for years without having any damaging impacts on the environment. Selecting a print on demand provider with these core values is a great place to start. Using responsibly sourced materials, Gelato's products can be produced and shipped locally through 130 production partners around the globe, supporting our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Faster, smarter and greener.
10 Best hoodie design ideas
The best hoodies inspire shoppers to purchase, share with their communities, and spread the word about your talented shop. How can you manage all that? By crafting designs that have personality and make the customer feel seen. This can be anything from a sports team they love, their new monogram after getting married or their favorite musician on a hoodie. Here are some of the best hoodie design ideas you can incorporate into the sweatshirt products featured in your shop.
1. Register your art business
Create personalized designs that incorporate names, initials, a monogram, nicknames, or life milestone monikers, like "Soon to Be Mrs." or "Big Sister," to comfy sweatshirts. Personalized products are in high demand, and hoodies are no exception. People know what they want, and it's no longer a generic product.
For new parents, a Mama or Dad fleece hoodie Saltwater fishing apparel pays homage to the latest addition to their family. Add "Cat Dad" or "Dog Mom" to an oversized hoodie for the perfect outfit that embraces the furry friends in their life.
Cater to star-followers with hoodie design ideas that incorporate star signs and horoscopes. Create a majestic lion for the Leos or a sneaky fox for the Virgos. Get creative with your animal designs, add some flair, and add the zodiac sign in the text on the design to bring it home.
The best hoodies can include clever graphics and phrases for specific occupations, like nurses, teachers, lawyers, or authors. Think of silly one-liners that will bring joy to your customers who work in challenging industries. Include puns, funny graphics, or profound quotes that inspire or make them laugh whenever they wear it.
Celebrate your hometown with hoodie designs celebrating popular hot spots around town, like the Golden Gate Bridge, the London Eye, or the Empire State Building. Add script or text related to the graphic and include historical dates to tie it together.
2. Sports-themed designs
When creating sports-themed designs, it's important to note that you should avoid using official logos or images to avoid any legal ramifications.
Tap into your creativity when gathering inspiration for sports designs, and remember that sports fans love having unique fanwear to rock at games, tailgates, and viewing parties. When brainstorming designs, consider each team's location, colors, mascot, famous players, and culture of the area.
Sports team hoodies
Go flashy and bold with the team's colors and tagline, along with their famous players or a unique rendering of their mascot. Get creative with visual elements to make the designs pop. Research significant wins or memorable plays for each team and implement those in your designs, if relevant.
Sports culture hoodies
While most watch sports for the games, some are fans of the food, decor, and general feelings of excitement and camaraderie. Lean into these feelings and try to evoke those emotions in your designs, from an abstract image of beer and nachos to a close-knit group of friends celebrating a win.
3. Band or artist-inspired designs
Not everyone wants to (or can afford to) pay upwards of $100 for a concert sweatshirt, even if it's their favorite band. The best hoodies can inspire fans through images of album art, their favorite song lyrics, and even sketched or painted photos of their favorite artist or band. Use silhouettes of the Beatles band members, a group shot of BTS, or your own original renderings of Taylor Swift's most popular album covers.
4. Inspirational quote designs
Spark feelings and inspire your customers with quotes from inspirational figures from history and modern times. Examples include "If you can dream it, you can do it" by Walt Disney and "Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful" by Annette Funicello.
Your audience may be inspired by activists, authors, politicians, actors, or scientists, so knowing this information will be helpful when creating quote designs that make them feel something.
5. Pop culture designs
Borrowing inspiration from pop culture is a genius way to target the wardrobe of your millennial and Gen Z audience. From cheeky jabs at the Kardashians to snarky jokes from The Office, musings from Yellowstone, or Ben Affleck's "I give up" face, pop culture offers an endless supply of inspiration as you design hoodies. If pop culture references are a solid portion of your target audience, you probably have many ideas floating around in your head. To begin, put pen to paper and brainstorm the cheekiest references you can think of.
6. College or university hoodie designs
School spirit hoodies
Nearly every college student tosses on a hoodie and goes to class in the winter, so designing college or university-inspired hoodies can target students around the world. Create motivational and comical hoodie designs that embrace the chaos and struggle of all-nighters, a social life, and studying. Incorporate particular majors and areas of study, like pre-med, law school, journalism, or blossoming artists. Polish it off with references to the university's colors, slogan, or mascot.
Greek life hoodies
If you are targeting Greek life members, research the symbols, colors, slogans, and meanings behind each chapter. You'll gain a lot of inspiration and insight into why Chi Omega symbolizes an owl or what the white rose means to Kappa Delta. These inferences help as you create visual elements and details that fit the design.
7. Holiday-themed designs
There's nothing more festive than an ugly Christmas hoodie during the holidays. Consider every holiday when designing hoodies, from snarky Valentine's jokes about Cupid, over-indulging on St. Patrick's Day, or sympathy for the turkey on Thanksgiving. Christmas hoodies are a vast market, so get creative with your best holiday cheer to design something unique beyond the standard ugly sweater. Borrow from recent holiday movies, songs, or scandals to produce a design your audience will adore.
Make your holiday themes fun and casual to cater to a broader audience, including kids and grandparents, for family-friendly enjoyment.
8. Causes and activism designs
For the supporters of social change, designs that are crafted to motivate others are a must-buy. Create inspired hoodies that support a cause, like animal welfare, environmental awareness, or cancer research. You can make these designs stand out by incorporating the colors (like pink for breast cancer), logos (like the cancer ribbon), and phrases or quotes associated with the cause. Hoodies that support social change and important causes can be worn to rallies and events and are often used on social media to promote awareness. Take heed to create designs that draw out emotion and inspire change, and they'll sell like hotcakes.
9. Retro designs
Vintage designs can attract many demographics and age groups, making them an effortless fashion statement for a much larger audience.
Provoke nostalgia from the 70s with groovy fonts and images that spark memories of the hippie era or disco. Use neon visuals and rocker designs to represent the 80s or bold colors, metallic, and glitter to bring millennials back to the golden Y2K era (plastic furniture, anyone?!) when we weren't sure what was going to happen in the year 2000. Simpler times!
10. Funny designs
For some people, the best hoodies are the ones that make us stop in the street and laugh out loud. Fashion can be funny, and hoodies are a great way to express humor. Draw inspiration from viral memes, popular jokes, or funny sayings floating around the internet and well-recognized by your target audience. Venture to Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms for the latest memes and content ideas. If you know who you are targeting with your designs, you will probably know something about what they find humorous, so start there.
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