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Custom Racing Apparel: A Beginner's Guide

by Steve Welk
Custom Racing Apparel: A Beginner's Guide

When starting up a racing team, there are many things to do. Designing team apparel is one of many to-dos on your list, and while it can be challenging, don't push your apparel to the bottom of the list just yet. For ambitious racing teams, apparel is more than a fashion statement. It sets the tone for your brand and what you want your team to represent. If you want to make sure your team stands out from the competition, creating killer apparel needs to be your priority. Remember, every successful racing team has a strong brand behind it.

The first step in designing your racing apparel is acknowledging that you need it. Then, commit to creating a compelling look that stands out on the track. After that, there are a few key factors that stakeholders should consider, including:

Area and Weather Conditions

Where and when will your team be competing? The area and weather conditions that your team will face can guide your choices for what performance gear you need. If your team travels, for example, you'll need a broader range of kit to accommodate different climates and conditions. On the other hand, if you're a local team, you can focus on the specific racing apparel needs of your limited geographical area.

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Now that you've nailed down the geographical needs of your team, it's time to think about quantities. How much custom racing apparel do you need to buy? This is an essential consideration because it will help your apparel provider create an accurate estimate that reflects the needs of your racing team.

Your crew numbers and the length of your events are the two main factors determining your needed quantities. You want to ensure that each team member has fresh apparel for each day of the event to keep them feeling and looking their best. Trust us, happy and comfortable crew members make for a smoother and more successful race day. So, take the time to figure out your quantities, and you'll be one step closer.

In our experience:

  • Outerwear is usually 1-2 pieces per person
  • T-Shirts and Polos are usually 1 per event day worn, plus some extra
  • Crew may vary

You can work the percentages of your people to arrive at a reasonable amount of extras to ensure you don't over-order.

Apparel Styles

Once you've figured out your location, quantities, and budget for your racing performance gear, it's time to decide on the specific styles you need. Given the vast array of options, this can be overwhelming. Working with a vendor who understands your team's unique needs can make a huge difference.

Having a budget in mind for each piece of apparel is also helpful in narrowing down options. For example, if your traveling team needs jackets, polos, hoodies, tees, and hats, come up with an ideal cost per item in your budget. Then, ask your vendor to provide options within a range around that number. This approach will give you various options and help your vendor create the perfect custom racing apparel for your team.


To create a unique brand representing your team, look at what inspires you. What kind of designs do you like? Which race teams do you admire? This is like a shortcut to creating your brand. With the help of a skilled apparel provider, you can take these inspirations and create a unique design that's all your own.

Team owners should also check if your race series requires any specific logos or sponsors on your apparel. Many race series need their sponsors to appear on all team apparel. A good apparel provider will either have this information or know how to get it for you.

Getting on Track

Now that you have your styles, quantities, and branding sorted, it's time to pull the trigger and get your apparel and your team on the track!

Here are some questions a lot of people have that can help shortcut some of your processes:

Do you do those crew shirts? Billboard Shirts? Shirts with the logos all over them?

All-over printed crew shirts have all kinds of different names, but the technical term is Dye-Sublimated shirts. Most professional race teams use this shirt style to provide unique designs to help deliver their sponsor's message. It is generally a more costly option with higher minimums than a printed polo, but it gives you the most range in design.

Cotton vs. Blended vs. Performance Polyester?

This is a big question a lot of people have when ordering apparel. For us, it comes down to comfort. The old argument is that cotton is heavy and warm and tends to shrink but is less expensive. There are not a lot of thinner cotton tees that hold up to the wear and tear mechanics will put on them and hold their shape. So now it's a purely comfort argument. Knowing what you like and what your team likes is the best answer.

Screen Print vs. Embroidery vs. Heat Transfer vs. Dye-Sublimation?

Each one of these custom apparel processes has its advantages, and a good vendor will help you navigate which is best for each garment you use. For rain jackets, for example, we will use a heat transfer process vs. the embroidery that we use for most outerwear pieces. Why? If you embroider a rain jacket, you're basically poking little holes in your rain jacket. The heat transfer process will protect the integrity of a rain jacket while still giving you a professional look.

Do you do hats?

This is a common question, and yes, there are hundreds of hat types. Fitted, adjustable, flat-bill, snap-back, structured, unstructured… the list goes on. Having a hat style in mind already is the easiest way to narrow down this list and allow a vendor to come up with options that work for you.

The Styled Aesthetic System

Having a company that understands racing on your side is the best way to create an apparel program for your team. The Styled Aesthetic system is that solution. From design to apparel selection to production, when your brand and team are ready, we have a full range of solutions to get your apparel to your fans! Let's cross the finish line and get those custom racing apparel choices made! Learn more about our system today.

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