With a history dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, t-shirts have long represented countercultures that required an inexpensive and customizable way to show a sense of allegiance and community. Whether the connection was to a sport, a political sect, an aesthetic, or to a general lifestyle, the t-shirt has In become a staple of most people’s wardrobes due to its comfort, versatility, and durability. While some still opt for the plain t-shirt, either in white or one of many vibrant colors, many use t-shirts as a form of self-expression and advertising, utilizing a combination of words, graphics, and photographs.

With the recent rise in online shopping, ecommerce businesses have experienced an increase in interest in t-shirts as a popular choice for clothing. Many companies employ bold logos, original art, appropriated graphics, or original images that allow both self-expression and an opportunity for businesses, including designers and labels, to bond with their target consumer demographic and increase their visibility. With this rise in popularity of t-shirts as a type of streetwear, there is no better time to use graphic t-shirts as a way to promote your interest in fitness.

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Why is a fitness t-shirt business a good idea? It’s no secret that millennials are paying big bucks to find places to achieve and maintain fitness. In fact, while the days of paying for annual contracts and commitments to traditional gyms may be behind us, trendy places like mixed martial arts gyms, spinning classes at cycling houses, and boutique fitness studios are finding that pay-by-the-class models that encourage both fitness as a health opportunity and a social activity are a major hit. In fact, many well-established gyms are looking to invest heavily in spreading this concept, which “allows members to experience coach-led, community-driven, and individually adapted” classes designed for those who are health-conscious.

This means that while an individual’s workout routine might not involve a big gym, it might include sled pushes, mindfulness meditation, and cryotherapy that involves a real lifestyle change. For those ecommerce business owners looking for a clothing niche, fitness may be it. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion business, expected to grow 17 percent in the next five years. More and more people are interested in training and living like an athlete, making a t-shirt business that focuses on fitness and wellness an industry of unlimited possibilities.

What is the fitness t-shirt niche? With the many types of t-shirts available today, building a successful t-shirt business will mean finding a way to set yourself apart from your many competitors One way to ensure a loyal following is to choose and cater to a specific demographic or interest. Generally speaking, there are many categories of t-shirt designs, so it’s a good idea to focus on one area, like yoga, kickboxing, or meditation. By combining health slogans like “Health is Wealth” with clever graphics, you can cater to those who are part of the wellness community.

Designs don’t have to be complicated to be noteworthy. Some of the best selling graphic tees are very simple, but the text and the visuals connect with the intended audience. The best selling t-shirts make a statement that your community of consumers what to hear and wear. Using a t-shirt design mockup tool will help you design and market your unique product.

How can I build a fitness t-shirt business that is successful? One of the most important things about a niche business, particularly with regard to t-shirts, is that it is not just about the design. When it comes to your actual product, think about the quality of your tees, the customization options, the price, the packaging, and the payment options, in addition to the overall message or artwork. Online consumers are looking for the full shopping experience.  While you may get away with a low-quality product one time, building trust is key for long-term customer satisfaction and repeat consumers. If your graphic fades or cracks, or if the shirt itself fails to maintain its shape, you won’t have consumers who will positively review your product or your company or return to purchase more.

Another important thing to remember is that, with fitness t-shirts, you are working toward building a community of consumers who are focused on the same thing: the achievement and maintenance of health and wellness. Developing a website that does more than just sell your product is important. Post relevant fitness content, provide links to fitness blogs, and create videos that allow your consumers to see your fitness t-shirts being worn and used during workout routines and physical activities.

What are some ideas you have for starting a fitness t-shirt business? Feel free to post your thoughts here.

By Skyler West

Piper Skyler West: Piper, a sports medicine expert, shares advice on injury prevention, athletic performance, and sports health tips.