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Which is More Expensive; Embroidery or Print?

You are at the stage where you are looking to introduce a uniform or update your current one. Should you choose printing or embroidery? The argument swings both ways and is influenced by your budget, the use of the uniform, and even the garments you are ordering.

This article will look at the following factors:

In terms of the initial outlay per item, Embroidery can easily be the most expensive out of the two. It costs more per unit in a large order, however, it is generally more cost effective than print in the long run.

Of course that depends on the printing technique you are comparing it to.

Garment personalisation can be complicated so it depends on other factors too, such as how many garments you are ordering at one time and what kind of use they will be put to.

Why is Embroidery More Cost Effective than Printing?

The main difference between clothing embroidery and print is how they are applied to the garment. Embroidered decals become part of the uniform item you have chosen because we weave it into the fabric. On the other hand, printed logos and slogans are applied across the surface of the garment.

As a result of this, Embroidered workwear & uniform has a longer lifespan. The details last longer, usually longer than the garment. Sure, the length of time depends on your workplace environment and its intended use, but generally, there is more life in embroidery.

So although embroidery has a higher application cost it can be much more cost effective in the long run to the cost conscious business.

Image shows embroidery machine

When To Choose Embroidery For Company Uniform

When should you invest more by using the embroidery technique?

If you plan to ensure the longevity of your work clothes through repeated use or work in certain challenging environments, embroidery is likely the way to go. 

If you already have one, your XAMAX® account manager will be able to advise you. If you don't have an account manager, just give us a call, we'll be happy to help: 0333 331 54 61

If you work in a manual industry, such as construction, you may find that printed workwear does not have a long lifespan before needing to be replaced. Because of the frequent washing needed after every wear, this can sometimes degrade the print quality (although xamax guarantee our print for the lifetime of the garment).

Also, printed techniques sometimes peel away quicker when working in wet weather or when the workwear is being put to the test. As the printing deteriorates, so does the item it is printed on.

However, it is important to note if you work in a role where your workwear will go through an abrasive use - scaffolders, hod-carriers, labourer - and you will wear out items such as t-shirts, print will work out more cost effective. To work out the tipping point of which is more cost effective, speak to us on 01904 266668.

Another factor you need to consider is what type of workwear you will be ordering. Items where wool is a primary component, such as fleeces or jumpers, are subject to being ruined by print.

Embroidery preserves both the quality and strength of the stitching. Also, it allows for a much more detailed finish. Choosing an expensive but sensitive embroidered finish allows you to keep the value in the workwear. It also brings the cost-per-wear lower than the initial cost of printed workwear would have saved you. 

When to Use Printed Workwear

We often find that applying printed logos or slogans onto workwear is cheaper by the unit, but that does not mean that it is more cost effective. 

Embroidered workwear is not ideal for everyone, even those who are not looking to source workwear on the cheap.

There are various cases where Printed Workwear can be superior to its embroidered counterpart. This can be companies that undergo regular rebrands, work in accident-prone industries, or the need for workwear is only short-lived.

If you find your company having to rebrand or are in the early stages of your formation, printed workwear may be the best option for you.

Printed options yield cheaper unit costs than embroidered. This makes it is easier to create the branding for your company without costing too much of your startup budget. Getting your company’s image right will be cheaper with printed logos/slogans in the early stages.

Businesses working in hospitality and catering should consider printed garments because it is likely that there will be spills that can lead to stains. If you choose embroidery, the garments will not remain presentable long enough to justify the additional cost for embroidery.

As these industries prioritise a professional appearance, it is important to opt for printed options and use the money saved to finance the re-ordering of workwear for your employees. This is as long as it suits your brand style. A fine dining restaurant is not likely to use screen printed t-shirts, for example. 

If you wish to run a promotion with lasting branding impact (such as a fundraiser), you will find printed being the better option again.

Since promotions are short-lived, there will be no excessive wearing of the workwear (between 1-10 times). Also the branding will need to be concise and clear to be memorable and noticeable. Therefore, the need for intricate embroidered designs is unnecessary. Here, printing is the best option, as it can be done cheap and allows for more items to be printed onto, maximising your business’s exposure on the day.

Image shows screen printing

Is Printed Workwear Inferior to Embroidered Workwear? 

It is not a fair comparison to be made unless your needs can be transpired as well through either application technique. Both methods have their own advantages. One is suited for cheap, short-lived use whereas the other is tailored for longevity and a much finer finish.

The answer behind “Which is better?” comes down to your own business circumstances and is determined by the following factors:

  • Budget - what can you afford?
  • Brand - what best gets across my branding?
  • Style - how presentable does my workwear need to be?
  • Location and use - will the technique fare in the workplace? 
  • Expected/needed lifespan - will the technique last as long as you need?
  • Garment Type - will the garment quality suffer from the chosen technique?


The technique you should choose depends on the use of the garments you want to order. Embroidery is best for physical and challenging environments. It lasts longer than print and remains presentable. Printing is best for short wear. This technique is recommended for hospitality and catering industries and promotional events.


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      Your Details

      Why do we ask?
      This gives us an idea of which member of our team could best help you.