Top 20 T-Shirt designs of 2017

by Rob Fletcher | 12/12/2017
Top 20 T-Shirt designs of 2017

We pick out some of the best examples of printed t-shirts work from the past 12 months.

Ask any supplier or manufacturer of garment and textile printing machinery and they will tell you that one of the biggest markets for this sort of technology is t-shirt printing.

Printed t-shirts have been part of the global fashion industry for some time, but what we are now seeing is how advanced print technology is allowing designers and retailers to push the boundaries with their products and introduce new, innovative effects to t-shirts.

Here, FESPA looks back over the last 12 months in the t-shirt printing sector and highlights work that demonstrates how this market can continue to expand and grow, as well as products that have managed to capture the interest of the world’s media.

1. Fashion icons partner to support World AIDS Day

Designer: Marc Jacobs

Description: Supermodel Naomi Campbell joined forces with fashion designer Marc Jacobs to launch this t-shirt, which, to quote a famous television advert, “Does exactly what it says on the tin”. The t-shirt, featuring a striking pink slogan, retailed in the US for $55 and helped raise funds for UNAIDS activities in support of people around the world living with or affected by HIV.

Picture courtesy of UNAIDS

2. It’s a-me, Mario…on a t-shirt!

Designer: Takashi Kawazoe

Description: Nintendo joined forces with Japanese clothing company Uniqlo to run a global competition for gamers around the world to deign a t-shirt based on one of Nintendo’s many famous titles. Takashi Kawazoe of Japan won first prize for this design, featuring a pixelated image of the world’s most famous plumber, Mario.

Kawazoe scooped the top prize package of $10,000 (€8,440/£7,500) and Nintendo Switch signed by Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Mario and Zelda series.

Picture courtesy of Uniqlo

3. Music to the ears of FESPA Award winner

Designer: Midi Print

Description: A ‘Top 20 T-Shirts’ feature would not be complete without paying tribute to our own award-winners. The FESPA Awards 2017 saw a number of companies go home with ‘Gold’ in recognition of t-shirt printing.

Midi Print won Gold in the ‘T-shirts and Other Garments’ category for this design. Commercial photographer Irving Penn was commissioned to shoot world-famous jazzman Miles Davis, resulting in a series of images featuring the musician’s hands in various positions.

Picture courtesy of Midi Print

4. Double win for Midi Print with second Gold

Designer: Midi Print

Description: Midi Print also won Gold in the ‘Special Effect on T-shirt and Other Garments’ category for this striking design, produced using its patented Print Magic Metalux technology, which is designed to simulate laser engraving and micro embossing. In addition, metalised inks and 3D printing gel give the effect that the image on the t-shirt is moving when the consumer changes their viewing angle.

Picture courtesy of Midi Print

5. Roaring success for Creative Print

Designer: Creative Print (Nantong)

Description: Midi Print was not the only company honoured for its t-shirt work at the 2017 FESPA Awards. Creative Print (Nantong) picked a silver award in the ‘T-shirts and Other Garments’ category for this design, featuring a high level detail of soft water-based printing onto dark grounds.

Picture courtesy of Creative Print (Nantong)

6. Screen printing for the win

Designer: Monster Press

Description: Monster Press also won a silver award for this t-shirt, designed in partnership with UK artist Christopher Lovell. The company utilised screen printing technology to create the t-shirt, to showcase how this form of printing still holds a place in the industry, despite the influx of digital printing.

Picture courtesy of Monster Press

7. Bronze honour for cotton project

Designer: Matter of Spirit Excellence

Description: Our final inclusion from the 2017 FESPA Awards, Matter of Spirit Excellence won bronze for this design, entitled ‘Twigs’. The winner utilised a printer that can print on cotton rolls, at 1.80m wide and with water-based inks to produce the t-shirt.

Picture courtesy of Matter of Spirit Excellence

8. Growing your t-shirt printing business from home

Designer: Online Ceramics (Elijah Funk & Alix Ross)

Description: Founded last year, Online Ceramics is a young company that mixes screen print with tie-die to create a wide range of t-shirts. Founders Elijah Funk and Alix Ross produce all t-shirts at their apartment, and what caught our eye was a recent collaboration with John Mayer and his band, Dead & Company.

Picture courtesy of Ryan Lowry / GQ

9. Ghost-busting with Stranger Things’ Dustin

Designer: CCD Smiles / Gaten Matarazzo

Description: If you’re a Netflix customer, the chances are you will have watched ‘Stranger Things’. If you’re not a Netflix customer, the chances are you will have been told to subscribe and watch ‘Stranger Things’. The show has been a major hit for the streaming platform and was recently commissioned for a third series.

Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin in the show, joined forces with CCD Smiles to launch a t-shirt to raise money for the charity. CCD Smiles is a charity focused on Cleidocranial Dysplasia, a disability that Matarazzo suffers from that affects the development of bones and teeth. The special t-shirt features Dustin in his famous hat on the classic Ghostbusters logo.

Picture courtesy of @GatenM123

10. Give your wardrobe a green makeover

Designer: COCO

Description: COCO has taken an innovative approach to sustainable t-shirt printing by using only 100 percent organic cotton and chemical-free inks to produce this line of t-shirts. In addition, the packaging for the t-shirts is also made from recycled cardboard boxes.

Picture courtesy of Seychelles News Agency / CC-BY

11. Remembering Grenfell Tower

Designer: @Love4Grenfell

Description:  Earlier this year, London suffered one of its worst fire tragedies in modern history when more than 70 people were killed in a blaze that ripped through Grenfell Tower. @Love4Grenfell, an independent local group, launched this t-shirt to help raise funds for those affected by the tragedy. The design transforms the famous London Underground logo into a heart. Here, pop star Rita Ora shows her support for the campaign.

Picture courtesy of Rita Ora (Instagram)

12. Barbie backs LGBT rights with miniature t-shirt

Designer: Mattel

Description: You might struggle to fit into this t-shirt, but the world’s most famous doll has no such problem. Barbie showed her support for LGBT rights this year when manufacturer Mattel featured an image of the doll wearing this printed t-shirt on its Instagram page. The post attracted more than 44,000 likes.

Picture courtesy of @barbiestyle

13. Three-dimensional fashion

Designer: Simon Sorenen

Description: YouTube star Simon Sorenen took t-shirt design to a new level this year by using NinjaFlex flexible filament to create 3D print patterns on a t-shirt. After some experimenting, which included washing and drying the t-shirt, the design stayed put and potentially opens up a whole new market for 3D print technology.

Picture courtesy of 3ders.org

14. Jeremy Corbyn t-shirt joins V&A Museum collection

Designer: Bristol Street Wear

Description: This year’s General Election in the UK proved to be a lot closer than experts had forecast, with Labour taking a number of seats from rival political parties. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn proved to be a key character during the Election, helped by campaigns such as this by t-shirt Bristol Street Wear that features his surname above a ‘Nike’ tick.

Such was the impact of this that the t-shirt now features in the Victoria & Albert Museum, in a collection charting political influence on design trends.

Picture courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum

15. Children in Need t-shirt helps raise record amount for charity

Designer: Undisclosed

Description: A regular inclusion in our T-Shirt Top 20, the annual BBC Children in Need charity t-shirt proved popular again this year, helping to generate funds for a very worthy cause. The 2017 BBC Children in Need effort raised just over £50m for charity, a record for the event.

Picture courtesy of BBC Children in Need

16. Can Curiosity kill tradition?

Designer: Octagon Studios 

Description: Octagon Studios was able to incorporate augmented reality into its Curiosity Wear 4D+ range, allowing consumers to view a 4D version of the print on the t-shirt via a mobile device. Consumers simply login to the free Wear 4D+ app and hold their device up to the t-shirt, allowing them to see bonus content.

Picture courtesy of MATEX

17. GQ ‘Citizen of the Year’ pays tribute to fallen African-Americans

Designer: Unknown

Description: Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback for NFL American football team the San Francisco 49ers, used his appearance as GQ Magazine’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ to highlight alleged police brutality against African-Americans in the US. For his magazine photocall, Kaepernick wore a t-shirt bearing the names of 20 unarmed African-American men and women who have been shot and killed by police.

Picture courtesy of @MikelleStreet

18. Pre-mark or Pri-mark? An argument settled…

Designer: Primark

Description: This year, Primark decided to settle a debate that has rumbled on ever since the clothing retail chain began to appear on high streets. The store produced this simple t-shirt explaining how its name should be pronounced, with consumers able to purchase the product for just £5.

Picture courtesy of Primark

19. Terminate hate with Arnie

Designer: Unknown

Description: He said he’d be back! Arnold Schwarzenegger attracted more than half a million likes on Instagram for this picture of him wearing a t-shirt urging Americans to “Terminate Hate” after the riots in Charlottesville.

Picture courtesy of Planet Photos 

20. Federer celebrates Wimbledon record with one-off t-shirt

Designer: Roger Federer / Nike

Description: Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer wore this simple but effective t-shirt after claiming a record eighth title at the Wimbledon Championships in the summer. Sponsored by Nike, Federer’s t-shirt features the famous Nike tick, simply accompanied by his first name. ‘Just do it’, Nike encourages, and Federer certainly did. 

Picture courtesy of Roger Federer

Register now to attend FESPA Global Print Expo

For industry members keen to learn more about t-shirt printing and how they can make the most out of the many opportunities available in this sector, FESPA will host a dedicated garment workshop at the 2018 FESPA Global Print Expo show at the Messe Berlin in Germany.

To find out more about the FESPA Global Print Expo, view the full exhibitor list and register to attend, visit the official event website: www.fespaglobalprintexpo.com

by Rob Fletcher Back to News

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