From the time the first promotional t-shirt was created in 1939 for the Wizard of Oz, people have been designing shirts to promote various brands and events as well as for fun and profit. Even with so many decades of trends to look back on, it isn’t always easy to predict what will become a trend for the next year in t-shirt designs. After all, many of the pop culture events and other trends that pop up throughout the year will make their way into the design world.

However, there are some ways you can figure out what is likely to trend for the coming year, including looking at the runway shows for spring 2018 clothing, what designers have released at year-end and taking a look back at past trends. With that in mind, here are our top eight guesses for tee designs for 2018.

1. Hawaiian Style

t-shirt design trends 2018 cool tshirts

Hawaiian print was of the 2018 men’s clothing looks that showed up on the runways recently. The tropical style’s colorful corals and flowers showed up both in Louis Vuitton and SSS World Corp designs. Think Pac Sun style t-shirts to match this overall Salt Life trend.

Your focus on designing a tee for this trend should be on both the color of the tee and figuring out how best to implement large Hawaiian flowers. You could also apply other tropical themes, such as adding a sea turtle or a graphic of a Hawaiian sunset.

2. Photographs

One of the overall design trends for 2018 will likely be bigger, higher resolution photos. With better printing processes, it will be easier than ever to create one-of-a-kind looks featuring a favorite photograph or printing up a batch of tees with a photo of a popular location.

You can implement this into your designs in a variety of ways. Create personalized tee shirts for family reunions and other events, or create a beautiful tee to mark a visit to a unique location. Expect amateurs to get in on the action, too, by creating a photo tee through businesses that offer on-demand printing. Designers can provide their input as a consultant or by designing family print tees for their clients.

3. Sports Tees

sports t-shirt design trend

Sports-themed t-shirts have been a favorite for a long time. Don’t expect that to change in 2018. Funny sayings and cute quote seem to be making a comeback, so we might see more of them on sports tees in 2018. Rather than the minimalist approach used in the past with a team name and player’s number (this will still be a thing, though), expect to see more options out there.

If you’re designing a sports tee, think about the things people say about that team or sport. How can you incorporate that into a tee? Expect to see a variety of colors on sports tees too.

4. Keep Calm Shirts

Nearly every time you sign onto social media these days, you see a meme or t-shirt that says to “keep calm” and something. For example, if you do yoga, the shirt might say “Keep Calm and Downward Dog.” Whatever the sport, activity or situation, there is a keep calm saying.

The key to designing this type of shirt is figuring out what no one has said yet. You have to know the activity well to understand what people participating in it would find humorous. If you aren’t sure, enlist the help of someone who is passionate about that activity. These are probably some of the simplest shirts to design because they are composed of text and a simple, flat graphic.

5. Girl Power Slogans!

girl power t-shirt design trends 2018

In 2017, women stood up for their rights. Expect this trend to continue into 2018 and make its way into the tee shirt design world. We’ll likely see more shirts with slogans about the strength of women and fewer that adhere to stereotypes. Some of these tee shirts might simply read #girlpower, while others will include longer inspirational sayings.

If you are designing a girl power tee shirt, think about the things you most admire about the women in your life. What challenges have they overcome? If you are a woman, what makes you proud to be one? Then, figure out how you can incorporate those ideas into your designs.

6. Year and Place of Birth

t-shirt design trend 2018

Have you seen people wearing those t-shirts with their year and place of birth on them? For example, a shirt might read “Made in New York City – 1989.” Expect to see more of these designs in 2018. They’ll also become even more personalized with activities the person likes, details about their life and first names in some cases.

Think about how you can take this basic design to the next level. What about a shirt that reads “Fabulous at bowling since 1993 – Only 8 gutter balls.” Try to make the design humorous and fun for the consumer.

7. Playing With Words

t-shirt design trends 2018

Who doesn’t love a tongue-in-cheek play on words? It hints at humor but makes the person reading the shirt think to figure out the message. Expect to see more wordplay on tee shirts in 2018 along with more interesting fonts. Typography is expected to be big across design in 2018, so innovative typography choices will likely appear on tees as well.

For example, there are currently t-shirts that say things such as “how Swede it is” with an image of a Swedish flag. Think about ways you can play around with words to create a humorous message.

8. Nautical Stripes

nautical t-shirt design trend 2018

2018 could very well herald back to the nautical look. Brands such as Saint Laurent and Burberry have already released tees with red or blue stripes and graphics such as a pelican or anchor. Think about ways you can implement this into your t-shirt designs. Even more important, perhaps, is the kind of tee you place these patterns on. Nautical tees tend to be shorter than a traditional tee and have a scooped neckline.

Bottom Line

t-shirt design trends 2018

These are just eight of the trends that will likely surface in 2018. Although it is good to look at the trends and predictions, the real key to creating a t-shirt design that stands out is to be as creative as possible and try to create something no one else has.

The article was contributed by Lexie Lu, a freelance graphic designer and writer. Her ideal morning includes some design specs and a large cup of coffee. She owns Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

*All T-shirt designs were created on DesignContest.