Vintage T-shirt

Vintage T-shirt

Webster’s dictionary has this to say about the definition of vintage when used as an adjective:

Agreed.

But thanks to “the internets” the definition of vintage, when applied to t-shirts, has become quite muddled. This is mostly due to t-shirt manufacturers looking to leverage a popular marketing keyword. If you Google “vintage t-shirts” you won’t find a single result on page one that offers actual vintage t-shirts. Instead, you’re presented with modern-day t-shirt manufacturers who produce new items that have a vintage look (like faux wear on the design), straight-up reproductions of old designs, or new versions of retro imagery.

Webster is probably rolling around in his grave right now. Not only was he an extremely small and talented sit-com actor, but he was also a stickler for diction. Put away the tissues, I was just kidding – the little fella is still alive and he could care less about grammar.

Noah Webster on the other hand, who published dictionaries and has long since passed, is indeed rolling around in his grave.

So let’s define vintage t-shirts and other related terminology – how they are used on our site (and in reality.)

What Makes a T-Shirt “Vintage”?

Applying Webster’s definition – a “vintage t-shirt” is a t-shirt that is not new. That leaves a big grey area, but suffice to say they don’t mean one year old. Some have claimed 10, we say at least 15 years old. When the Defunkd Collective was in operation, t-shirts had to be at least 15 years old to be posted for sale. But the safest bet to define a vintage t-shirt is one that is 20 or more years old.

What Makes a T-Shirt “Vintage”?

Applying Webster’s definition – a “vintage t-shirt” is a t-shirt that is not new. That leaves a big grey area, but suffice to say they don’t mean one year old. Some have claimed 10, we say at least 15 years old. When the Defunkd Collective was in operation, t-shirts had to be at least 15 years old to be posted for sale. But the safest bet to define a vintage t-shirt is one that is 20 or more years old.

Currently, any t-shirt manufactured in or prior to 2002 is considered vintage.

A true vintage t-shirt can usually be identified by its tag, with most of them now defunct. 1980s tees were typically made with a 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton which ensured they were softer. In the mid to late 90s (and beyond), cotton blends became the norm.

VTG

Is a short form for Vintage. It was originally adapted as a search synonym on eBay to give sellers more room in the limited character listing titles. When comparing the two searches on eBay, they bring exactly the same search results. While Google seems to recognize it as a short form, the two variations bring back quite different results.

Vintage Bootleg

This term refers to a t-shirt that is also at least 15 years old – yet wasn’t licensed. Many of these were sold out of concert parking lots in the 1970s and 80s. They typically featured original artwork with a style that become synonymous with bootlegs. Given they are actually vintage, they are more scarce (far less were manufactured) and had original designs, they can be just as valuable as a rock artist’s licensed vintage t-shirts. Sorry, Metallica.

Bootleg Vintage or Counterfeit Vintage

These happen when dishonest people set out to create a t-shirt in modern times and pass them off for true vintage. They make their best effort to copy an original and sought-after design. They’ll find quantities of old blank tees or unbranded modern-day vintage-esque tees. Or they’ll use modern blanks with fake vintage tags sewn in. Then they’ll typically post them online alongside a small number of actual vintage t-shirts to dupe consumers into shelling out of them. Booooo.

Bootleg T-Shirt

These are modern-day bootlegs that are not licensed, yet original designs. They aren’t attempting to duplicate the design of a vintage t-shirt, yet the designs are vintage-inspired ie Rap Tee style. Modern wearers of vintage tees have accepted these into the t-shirt universe.

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