Why the Shirts Work at Shirtworks

Robert Zoch
December 9, 2020


In the 1980s, United Kingdom-based Shirtworks started selling screen-printed t-shirts locally to Oxford University students and tourists. In 1996, they became one of the first screen-print businesses to use a website. In the decades since, they’ve grown to meet the challenges and opportunities of a tech-native, interconnected world, and their success as a growing apparel fulfiller reflects their commitment to innovative technologies and responsible business practices.

Today, Shirtworks services brands and consumers on five continents, and in addition to delivering superior quality in rapid time, prides itself on being one the first European print shop accredited “Organic” by the Soil Association for both embroidery and screen printing, using “fair trade” materials, and paying all employees the Real Living Wage rather than the national minimum living wage. They offer a wide variety of personalized apparel and workwear, including sportswear, sweatshirts, caps, jackets, children’s wear, and other pieces.

“Shirtworks supplies decorated garments to all industries,” says Arron Harnden, the brand’s Managing Director. “We have a very diverse customer base, from consumers ordering one-offs to small brands and ethical-conscious B2Bs needing up to a thousand pieces or more. We are known as an ethical decorator, GOTS-approved for both screen and embroidery.”

Having supplemented its screen-printing capabilities with embroidery, Shirtworks is now implementing a Kornit Digital direct-to-garment (DTG) production system for sustainable, on-demand fulfilment in a manner that meets their quality standards and is profitable in all quantities.

“We feel DTG is now a solution for lower volumes of garments we’d traditionally screen-print,” says Arron. “We’ve had an alternative DTG machine, but it couldn’t match the cost-efficiency of screen printing. We expect the Kornit system to help reduce our wage costs, while meeting the very high quality control standards necessary to maintain strong customer service.”

Kornit’s DTG technology uses a proprietary single-step print process and eco-friendly pigment inks that produce no waste water, imprint a variety of fabrics at the push of a button, and deliver vibrant, photorealistic digital impressions with a durability for wash, rub, and light fastness. As the system requires virtually no setup time or labor, print costs are low and consistent, making runs profitable from the first piece, simplifying the production of samples, and making any design specifications repeatable with precision. A piece can be imprinted, dried, and ready to ship or wear in mere minutes.

“We turned to Kornit because it offered a one-process solution, and its inks are GOTS-approved, which is very important to us,” says Arron. “Being able to match Pantones is also very important to us, and key to moving our screen-print clients over to DTG. We also wanted a retail-ready product that would enable us to expand into drop shipping.”

In addition to implementing Kornit DTG technology, Shirtworks has also purchased the new Kornit Workflow software solution, a product resulting from Kornit’s recent acquisition of U.K.-based Custom Gateway. The software, which provides end-to-end management capabilities of the production process (from online store to shipping logistics), helps brands and fulfillers streamline their operations, for increased efficiency, accountability, control, and visibility—an ideal match for the speed, versatility, and retail quality demands of the e-commerce consumer market in which Shirtworks operates. 

With these Kornit solutions in place, Shirtworks looks to expand by offering a drop shipping solution, and larger volumes to the trade.

Visit to learn how Kornit Digital technology delivers fast, profitable, sustainable, retail-quality apparel, and visit to learn how Shirtworks is answering the demand for high-quality, responsibly-made gear—or to place your order!