Top 7 Lightweight Fabrics for Custom Apparel This Summer

Summer is a time when wearing lightweight fabric is not only a matter of style, but of comfort as well. When the temperature rises and wardrobes change, your custom apparel should be able to take the heat. If summer is rolling around and you’re staring at boxes of branded heavy sweatshirts, we’ll help you keep your customized apparel fresh with this guide to the best summer fabrics.


The most popular lightweight fabric by far is cotton. Half of all the fabric produced in the world is cotton, and for good reason. Suitable for all climates, the breathability of cotton makes it especially useful when it’s hot out, in both wet and dry heat. Cotton is durable and versatile in its uses, found in everything from clothing to coffee filters. When it comes to clothes, there are many different types of cotton fabrics out there (Cotton Incorporated lists 64 different ones). So, which types of cotton fabrics are best for summer?

  • Chambray can look similar to denim, but has a much lighter and softer feel. A chambray shirt is stylish year round—while it’s light enough to handle summer, chambray is strong enough to handle the colder seasons as well.
  • Seersucker is a thinner variant of cotton that hangs away from the body, which helps with airflow. The word “seersucker” comes from the Persian words sheer and shakar, literally meaning “milk and sugar.” This name was likely given because of the alternating smooth and bumpy surfaces of most seersucker fabrics.
  • Madras cotton gets its name from the city in India where it is made (present day Chennai). It typically has a patterned texture and plaid design, but is much lighter than flannel. With a history spanning 5,000 years, madras cotton has spun itself into the fashion of ancient tradesmen and modern day plaid enthusiasts alike.


Cotton may be the most popular, but linen is the quintessential summer fabric. Made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen is thought to be the oldest fabric in existence that is still used today. Linen is light, durable and has a leisurely but stylish look. The natural crinkles in the fabric help with airflow, but that also means it can wrinkle easily. These folds in the fabric help give linen its lightweight, breezy character. Still, don’t be fooled by the lightness of linen—linen is well-known for its resilience and longevity. Opt for linen if you want to promote your brand in an iconic summer style.

Performance Blends

Also known as “tech fabric,” performance fabrics are made by blending various synthetic and natural fibers. Popular for athletic wear, the technology behind performance fabrics is ever evolving to match the needs of athletes, military personnel and casual wearers alike. Consider customizing performance fabric apparel if you are looking to promote your brand to customers that are active and athletic.


Rayon is a man-made fabric with very thin fibers, which makes it light and breathable. You’ll find it in delicate and lightweight draping clothes, like dresses. Rayon is best for dry heat as it does not wick away moisture like cotton might. If you’re looking to brand swimwear or summer dresses, rayon may be your fabric of choice. Tencel (or lyocell) is a form of rayon that is gaining popularity for its stylish and practical applications.


Since rayon is a man-made alternative to silk, why not go for the real thing? Silk may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of summer, but in the right apparel it can be both attractive and comfortable. Although it is a natural fiber, silk tends to repel water rather than help absorb it, so it’s not ideal for humid or overly sweaty conditions. Choosing silk fabric will help your brand stand out in a sleek and stylish way.


Bamboo fabrics are well-ventilated, anti-bacterial and environmentally friendly. Surprisingly comfortable, bamboo helps wick away moisture for those humid summer days while staying soft to the touch. There is some controversy over the types of fabrics derived from bamboo, so be sure to do your research and find the right fabric type that suits your needs. Opt for bamboo fabric if you want a stylish and modern summer look that also is biodegradable. The eco-friendly qualities of bamboo make it appropriate for brands promoting sustainability or organic products. Hemp fabric is another natural alternative to bamboo.

Tropical Wool

Wool may be just about the farthest thing from summer wear that you can think of, but tropical wool can actually help you handle the heat. Tropical wool is woven with larger gaps than regular wool, so it’s much more light and breathable than its thicker counterpart. It can give the formal look you’re after without leaving you sweltering in the sun. An embroidered tropical wool shirt is a classy and smart way to convey your brand image.

Weaving It Together

Need additional help choosing the best fabric this summer? Be sure to speak with your local Instant Imprints to find the best fit and fabric for all your needs. That being said, whatever fabric you choose to use for your brand’s summer apparel, you’ll want to make sure to use the highest quality customization service available. Embroidery is a long lasting and professional looking way to get your brand image out there. Instant Imprints®’s Branding Apparel Service combines state-of-the-art embroidery processes with the convenience of having a local provider. Give your brand the exposure it needs all summer long with Instant Imprints.

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