Who would have thought those t-shirts we picked up at concerts years ago would be worth so much now? That is if you didn't turn them into dust rags or horrors -- something used to wash the car! Today the vintage shirts from rock concerts in the seventies and eighties are hot, make that very hot. Recently the category Vintage T-shirts was listed as one of eBay's top collectibles and taking at look at these shirts and prices, I'm not surprised!
Rock concerts, particularly the heavy metal groups and metal bands from the seventies and eighties are the hot tickets right now in the vintage t-shirt world. But also look for skateboarding t-shirts from the late eighties to as recent as the early nineties, these can go for over $200 a shirt. Vintage Nike has always been popular and not only the shoes, but the t-shirts can easily sell for over $100. And don't forget those old video game t-shirts, another very popular item in vintage wear.
Like all collectibles, the condition of a vintage t-shirt affects the price and value of the shirt. But unlike most collectibles, it appears the more worn a shirt is, the higher the price. According to eBay seller Fox of MegaVintage, the thin, worn shirts sell better than a shirt in like-new condition or a "deadstock" t-shirt. Quite a turn-around from what we, as collectors, are used to. Perhaps a buyer might feel it's the best way to ensure authenticity since it would take a long time to get that thin, worn feel to a shirt. Or maybe they just like that very used look!
Fox also says the best way to tell if a shirt is authentic is the tag, as tags are very specific as to age. It will take a little time to educate yourself, but as in all things collectible, research makes the difference between being just a buyer or a smart collector.
If buying a shirt to wear, vintage clothing sizes are usually smaller than today's sizes Fast-food meals aren't the only thing that's been supersized in recent years. A size large from years ago is probably comparable to a medium size in today's world. Many sellers will give the measurements of the shirt, if not ask for the measurements to use as a guide for fit. Don't rely on the size on the tag if you're planning to wear your vintage finds.
It may only be a t-shirt, but an authentic vintage t-shirt is worth taking good care of especially after paying big bucks to buy it. The shirt has probably already been through lots of hot water, soap and dryers, but now it's time to give your shirt some loving care. Handwash in cold or lukewarm water and air-dry, preferably on a flat surface.
If you just pick up a shirt here and there to wear for fun you'll probably store it with other clothing. But as mentioned above, the shirt has already been through lots of turmoil (just think back to those concerts!) so start taking care of it now. If you're hanging it up, use a padded or soft hanger, never one of those cheapy metals ones that will distort shape. Or course it's best not to have it in a smoky area as once smoke gets into the fibers it's hard to remove. And if you are displaying the shirt, keep it out of direct sunlight, nothing will turn that black shirt grey faster than a few weeks of sunbathing.
A sampling of prices from online auctions and web sites:
U2 Original 1983 Concert Tour T-shirt (see image)
Worn, size XL
1981 Led Zeppelin T-shirt
1987 Guns N'Roses Banned T-shirt
1977 Pink Floyd European Animals Tour
1982 European Tour Rolling Stones T-Shirt
1981 Rolling Stones Concert T-Shirt
1986 Judas Priest T-shirt/Jersey
1970s Texas Lone Star Beer
Nike Pinwheel Old Skool
Bright orange, Nike in bright colors in a row down the front, pinwheel on the back
Nike Eugene Oregon Family Fun 10k Run
Has pinwheel on the back
1970s/80s Fila Bjorn Borg Tennis Polo Shirt
1978 Willie Nelson Concert Tour