Don’t Look Now, But Your Vintage T-Shirts Could Worth $$$


The coronavirus crisis has affected a lot of strange things in this country. From people wearing undergarments as face coverings to public health experts flip-flopping more times than a presidential candidate, what was once deemed normal in society has long since been tossed by the wayside. Take vintage T-shirts, for example. They are suddenly worth big bucks.

Detroit’s WDIV Local 4 news recently reported that pandemic-weary Americans facing another bleak winter are turning to the age-old hobby of collecting. Suddenly, things like baseball cards and 80s-era video games are hot commodities. People are even buying vintage T-shirts pulled from attics and basements.

Would you buy a used T-shirt from someone who lives 2,000 miles away? And if so, would you wear it? The implications of buying and selling vintage T-shirts raises serious questions about whether Americans have too much time on their hands.

  • Defining a Vintage T-Shirt

As to what types of T-shirts are actually selling on eBay and other sites, WDIV Local 4 says vintage is defined as anything dating from the late seventies through the early 2000s. But what about T-shirts from the sixties? What about an original tie-dyed concert shirt from a Grateful Dead gig?

Apparently, anything older than the seventies is too old. That is geezer territory, though a 1960s deadhead T-shirt in mint condition would still be valuable to a Grateful Dead collector. But that’s not the sort of buyer we’re talking about here. We are talking about general collectors.

The trick with vintage T-shirts is finding pieces that are still in good condition. Between fading colors and screen-printed graphics no longer looking their best, it is hard to find vintage T-shirts worth displaying. So if you have something that is both vintage and in good condition, you have something special.

  • Quality Has Improved Over the Years

Fading colors and images are not the only problem for vintage T-shirts. The quality of the clothing was somewhat poorer back in the day. According to the folks behind the Umai T-shirt brand, today’s fabrics are more resilient and colorfast. Modern printing methods create higher-quality images that just last longer.

What does that say about vintage T-shirts? It says that digging around in your attic for old T-shirts from your youth may yield finds that surprise you. You might open a box and discover that your garments have been pre-enjoyed by insects or rodents. You may still want to sell, but who wants to buy?

  • A Collector for Everything

Getting back to the WDIV Local 4 piece reminds us that there is a collector for everything. There are people out there willing to buy vintage T-shirts from back in the day. Baseball cards, which went out of style after being hot for several decades, are now back in. That is not even the half of it. People will collect:

  • Pokémon cards
  • Video games and consoles
  • Beanie babies
  • Vinyl records
  • Movie memorabilia.

The list is truly endless. There is a collector for just about every item under the sun. From stamps to bottle caps and China dolls, someone wants your junk. Whether or not they will pay for it is another matter. That is apparently the big difference on some types of items right now.

Thanks to pandemic fears keeping people indoors, more and more are returning to the collecting hobby to keep themselves entertained. If you have some vintage T-shirts from the seventies through the early 2000’s, they may be worth big bucks to a collector. Put them up on eBay. What have you got to lose?

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