A 5 Step Guide to Buying Vintage Band Tees

Sure, we’ve been rocking vintage band tees since the ‘70s, but that doesn’t mean we plan on stopping anytime soon. No matter the decade, arguably nothing looks cooler than an old concert tee: a relic of great music, wild parties and fond memories (even if they’re someone else’s).

Thus, it should come as no surprise that vintage tees have been, are, and will always be our go-to looks for the summer. Celebs, like Lady Gaga, show us how it’s done, looking equal parts cool and chic when pairing vintage tees with denim cut-offs and off-beat jackets.

But before you rush out to the nearest Urban Outfitters to purchase that $40 vintage-inspired graphic t-shirt, consider hitting up your local thrift and vintage stores. While band tee replicas look great, there’s something special about finding that third generation, heavily partied-in, geriatric gem. Consider it wearable art. Yes, you can totally buy a great Vincent van Gogh reproduction, but there’s something magical about seeing The Starry Night in person. The same goes for authentic vintage band tees. While it may take some diggin’ around, scoring that once-in-a-lifetime original Woodstock tee will make it all worthwhile.

However, we know it can be extremely difficult to differentiate between an authentic vintage band tee and it’s counterfeit twin. How can you tell if that $600 Metallica shirt you’re biding for on eBay is worth half of your rent money? We’ve talked to some experts at Toronto’s Mama Loves You Vintage and NYC’s What Goes Around Comes Around. Scroll down to read their tips on purchasing authentic vintage band t-shirts.

Check the tags
Almost all vintage band tees from the ‘70s and ‘80s had tags. While it depends on the era, most authentic concert tees were printed on popular brands like Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and Screen Stars.

Check copyright info
When checking to see if a vintage tee’s authentic, it’s important to look for copyright info. This information can help you date the item, and is often found below the graphic on the front or back of the tee.

Check its condition
If the tee looks pristine, it’s likely a reproduction. Authentic vintage tees should look somewhat beat up and worn.

Like any collectible item, rare vintage band tees fetch high prices. Examples include Fillmore jerseys, Woodstock tees, and early Hendrix, Stones and Zeppelin shirts. Demand and popularity can also affect the price. Popular bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Guns n Roses and Nirvana can have hefty price tags for that reason. Additionally, the unfortunate passing of great artists, like like David Bowie and Prince, create an immediate demand and spike in pricing, as fans rush to collect the last remnants of their icons.

Buy from a reputable source
It’s easy to get caught up in eBay scams. While it might be more expensive to buy a band tee from a well-respected vintage store with experienced buyers, you can sleep well knowing the company stands behind the tee’s authenticity.