Finding the right theme for your Shopify store is essential. It’s the design standard that you can use as a jumping-off point for making your store look and feel just the way you want.
Shopify has more than 90 themes to choose from, most of which are premium—costing between $150 and $350 each.
If you’d rather not dish out any cash for a theme, you are in luck. You can get really great Shopify themes for free. That’s right, zero dollars.
But, which free themes are best? And, what’s so great about premium themes?
We’ll try to answer these questions and more. First, let’s talk about what you must consider when choosing a theme.
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When selecting a theme for your store, the most obvious consideration is its appearance. And this is a great place to start!
If you don’t like the layout of a specific theme or it doesn’t fit with your brand, you should look elsewhere. Simple as that.
Since you’ve already chosen to go with a free theme, you’ve narrowed your search considerably. There are a grand total of 17 free themes on the Shopify App Store.
So, to narrow it down even further to find the perfect free theme for your brand, you’ll want to consider a few things:
Below, we’ll highlight the features of each theme so you know exactly what to expect from them and which might work well for you.
Now, let’s talk about the new versus the old themes and what that means for you.
When you go to the Shopify App Store, you will only see Online Store 2.0 (OS 2.0) themes by default. Shopify is hoping that merchants increasingly adopt these themes over legacy themes.
So, what’s the difference?
In 2021, Shopify introduced Online Store 2.0 during their Shopify Unite event, lauded as one of their “biggest updates to date.”
You can learn more about the details of this update and what it means for apps like Page Builder in our post about Online Store 2.0. Essentially, it gives merchants more control over customizing their themes in Shopify’s theme editor.
Where legacy themes only allow for adding and moving sections and blocks on the homepage, OS 2.0 themes opened up this functionality on every page template.
They’ve dubbed it Sections Everywhere quite appropriately.
Shopify’s free themes have a lot going for them.
They are well-designed and include a decent amount of default functionality right out of the box. Best of all, they’re free.
When just starting, a free theme can give you everything you need, giving you the ability to build a sizable customer base and revenue stream without dishing out any money.
Where paid themes excel is their surplus of built-in functionality and dedicated support.
As your business grows, so do your needs. While you can add certain features to your free theme with apps, buying a theme that already includes that functionality might be best.
In the long run, it would save you money that might otherwise be spent on subscriptions to a few apps.
Paid themes come with more customization options, and each theme is built to serve a particular type of store—such as those with large inventories or those in a specific industry.
If you decide that you want to go with a paid theme, you can find the perfect one in The 23 Best Shopify Themes For Whatever You Want to Sell Online.
But, if you are settled on finding a free theme, keep reading on.
Free Shopify themes are made to fit all types of stores, with certain features that create just the right shopping experience. All themes are updated to include responsive design so that visitors can shop from anywhere.
Since the customization experience differs so much between legacy and OS 2.0 themes, I’ve listed them separately to simplify it.
While Shopify defaults to not showing any themes that aren’t Online Store 2.0 enabled, the oldies still exist. You just have to clear out the ‘Online Store 2.0’ filter to see these legacy themes.
What you don’t get with legacy themes is the ability to customize every page template with sections.
The workaround for this is to use a visual editor app like Shogun Page Builder to create and customize any page on your store with drag and drop functionality.
So, these themes are still an excellent get (and they’re free!) so have no fear. Plus, Shopify continues to keep these themes updated.
With that in mind, here are the best of these free legacy themes.
Every Shopify store started before 2021 has had the Debut theme, even just for the time it took the merchant to choose a different theme. It came loaded onto all stores by default.
Given this, it is probably the most used theme for Shopify stores.
For a default free theme, it’s got a lot going on. It allows for a stunning full-width homepage experience with the ability to add product slideshows, engaging videos, and customer testimonials.
Great for stores with smaller catalogs, it includes simple product filtering and a predictive search function to find things quickly.
Sentiment around this theme is split with half of the reviewers pleased and the other half panning it.
As the name suggests, the Minimal theme is exceedingly minimalist. And reviewers have heaped praise on it for this reason—they knew what they were getting, and it delivered.
As with many free themes, this is great for small catalogs, and setup is super quick.
The features with this theme are similarly sparse, including product suggestions, cart notes, in-store pickups for brick and mortar shops, and a stock counter to show limited availability.
It comes in three distinct design styles, reflecting different industries. You can see the theme in action at Uppercase Magazine.
Another minimalist theme from Shopify is aptly named—Simple. While it doesn’t have as many reviews as Minimal, the sentiment is overwhelmingly positive for this theme as well.
The Simple theme brings a few more features into the mix, with image animations that allow your products to slide up onto the shop page and product image zoom for close inspection of your goods.
Instead of a header nav menu, a sidebar menu has all the important links for your store with accordion functionality to hide and show links. As with other legacy themes, the related products functionality was also added in.
Toggle between three design styles to find the best fit for your vertical.
A popular free theme for apparel stores, Brooklyn creates a great impression with stunning homepage functionality.
Great lifestyle and studio photography can shine on the homepage with Brooklyn’s full-width header image and the option to include a slideshow there for multiple products to get represented above the fold.
Fashion stores can also use the homepage video to show their products in motion. The products in the featured collection use a dynamic product grid that adjusts to look just right as you add products.
Finally, the slide-out shopping cart allows for easy access while shopping around. You can see this theme in action on the Valka Yoga store.
Free themes don’t leave out brands with larger inventories. The Supply theme has you covered for bigger catalogs.
The reviews are mostly positive, but negative reviews report slow loading times.
The slideshow feature allows merchants to show multiple product photos at the top of the homepage, followed by featured collections that can bring shoppers straight to a product.
The collection pages include a helpful sidebar menu that can include product filtering links to narrow down a shopper’s search.
There are two design styles for this theme, and you can see how it looks for the medical industry on the Cenegenics store.
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Shopify’s newest themes are all optimized for Sections Everywhere, which they unveiled with their Online Store 2.0 updates.
That means that these themes allow for section and block customization across all page templates instead of just the homepage (as is the case with legacy themes). And all OS 2.0 themes are perfectly capable of accommodating catalogs of any size.
Since these themes haven’t been up for long, they don’t have many reviews, and the overall sentiment is not yet clear.
The default theme for all new Shopify stores, Dawn aims to be a stylish and minimalistic theme for highly visual brands.
From the reviews, it seems this theme still has some work to do to earn their love, but it still has a lot going for it, especially given its increased functionality over Debut.
Finding products is simple, with a navigable menu always at hand as shoppers scroll and click through.
The homepage is a great marketing tool itself, with a full-width header image and the ability to add your favorite collections to make navigation even more effortless.
This minimal theme was built for visual storytelling, with layouts that favor great photography on the homepage and product pages.
The image gallery on Craft’s product pages scrolls as the product details stay still, allowing shoppers to get the full view of the product with easy access to its details.
Content marketing is easy with a lovely blog and readymade FAQ formats.
The demo store, showcasing Omsom’s incredible photography and products, illustrates the Crave theme’s food and beverage angle.
A full-width header slideshow immediately immerses visitors in powerful product photography that pushes them to investigate further. It shows that the theme is optimized for high-res photos.
Shoppers can quickly navigate to the collections and products they are looking for by using the top navigation’s mega menu, threading nav links into sub-categories. Or by using the easy product filtering and sorting feature on collection pages.
They also make it super simple to shop from mobile with responsive web design throughout the theme.
This beauty-focused theme is both vibrant and minimal, with tons of opportunities to showcase products in lifestyle and studio photography.
Collection pages can be easily filtered to quickly get shoppers to the right product. Leverage your persuasive power on product pages with organized product descriptions, related products, and fantastic imagery.
With FAQs and a great blog, you can capture SEO traffic to get discovered faster.
Once you’ve decided on a free theme, you can use the Shopify theme editor to customize your store to fit your brand identity.
You will be limited by the theme’s inherent functionality and what the theme editor allows.
For legacy themes, you can customize elements of any page but can only add, remove, and shift sections for the homepage. OS 2.0 enabled themes will allow for sections on any page.
No matter your theme, you can use Shogun Page Builder to customize any page with a simple drag and drop editor, giving you access to over 30 page elements to upgrade any store page.
Plus, you can build brand new landing pages to fit targeted sales-boosting needs, like special offer pages to announce big sales or lead generation pages to build out your email list.
You can add visual elements like product videos or high-res photos to any page, organize important product information with product tabs and accordions, and drive conversions with trust-building product reviews and intuitive signup forms.
Your free theme gets an automatic boost with Page Builder, doing the work of tons of other apps.
Your theme will partly decide how user-friendly your store becomes, so don’t choose based on looks alone.
Investigate the features included with each theme to build the experience you want for your customers.
The great thing about free themes is that you can download them and play around with them without worrying about the cost.
Add it to your store, try customizing it in the theme editor, and then decide if it’s for you.
Shogun Page Builder can take your free theme up a notch for increased functionality on any page. Even pages in legacy themes are fully customizable with Page Builder.
If you need something more from a theme, you can always choose a premium Shopify theme with built-in sales features. Your store is going to look so good!
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Your free theme, upgraded<cta-title>Use Shogun Page Builder to create and customize any Shopify page to fit your brand and boost sales—no matter what theme you use.Start designing today
Sean is one of Shogun's tireless content marketers. When he isn't creating exciting ecommerce content, he's probably biking or at the park.