Custom trackside apparel doesn't have to be expensive. A simple team T-Shirt and Cap can add a level of professionalism. If you are an amateur, privateer or just starting out, you might only want one or two items. If you have a support team, even if it is just a few friends, then you might look into getting a set of clothes made. Most local custom apparel shops require a minimum order of 20-24 T-Shirts or 10-12 Hats. If you are just looking for one or two items there are a few online retailers that will produce small one off quantities. The price per item might be much higher for a single piece but you don't have to buy a minimum quantity.
When producing T-Shirts there are a few things to consider:
Quality of T-Shirt
Number of colors to be silk screened
Silk screen locations (front, back, sleeve, etc)
The more you produce the cheaper each individual item will be. For each individual print color there will be a new screen required adding more cost and sometimes there is an ink per shirt cost. Of course the higher quality the base clothing item the higher the cost per unit. However, the variations tend to be only $1-$3 so you are better off getting an item that will last for a few extra dollars. The more locations you want the silk screen, the higher the number of set ups and therefore cost. Here is a typical breakdown of T-Shirt production:
T-Shirts range from $5-$8 depending on item
Ink per shirt per color can be $2-$3
Each screen (color, front, back, sleeve, etc) will cost $20-$25
So lets take our typical minimum run of 24 T-shirts at $7 each with two colors both front and back. So that will be $6 per shirt in ink plus 4 screens at $25 each or $100. Therefore the total cost of 24 T-Shirts will be:
24*($7+$6)+$100 = $412 + taxes & shipping or $17.17 per T-Shirt.
This gives you a rough ball park to budget. By adding more T-Shirts you can get a price break or you can save by simplifying the design to a single color. Your other option is to do a single unit with an online retailer that will cost $25-$40 depending on design and number of colours plus taxes & shipping.
As with T-Shirts, there is a minimum order quantity for Hats and the more you produce the cheaper per unit the hats will be. Embroidered hats also include a set up fee for converting your logo file to a stitch file, typically $25-$60 depending on the retailer and complexity. The individual cost of a hat ranges from $6-$15 based on the type and quality of the hat. The cost of embroidery per unit can be $8-$15 depending on the retailer and complexity. So lets look at a typical run of 12 hats.
Logo conversion $25
Hats $8 each
Embroidery per unit $12
Therefore cost is: $25 + 12 ($8 + $12) = $265 + taxes & shipping or $22.08 per hat.
Also if you want stitching on the side and back these will be additional set ups and sewing costs. If you only need a single hat, online retailers will still charge you for the $25 stitch conversion and the per hat cost will be about $20-$25 so a single custom hat might cost you $50 plus shipping and taxes.
Get it Right the First Time
Vendors will want your logo or design in vector graphics .svg, .ai or .eps file format. If you don't have that you can send them an image and they will convert it but it will cost you about $50-$100. I have found with vendors, it really helps if you can provide them a proof or mock up of what you want. You can download a blank T-Shirt/Hat image and place your logo where you want it. This really helps them to understand what you are after and also if there are white elements or text in your designs. I have had some issues with vendors not viewing with a transparent background and missing the white elements in their initial quotes. Another difficult thing can be colour matching. The colours on the computer can be anything you want, but when you have embroidery done there are limited thread colours to choose from. Try to find a thread that matches or is close before you do a large production run.