Monday, March 7, 2011

It's only rock & roll....T-Shirts!

The vintage rock t-shirt has become one of the most enduring fashion trends and must-have vintage items of the past decade or so, and it's hard to imagine a time when a retro rock shirt won't be cool. Mainstream fashion retailers picked up on this street style and ran with it. Today, the maket place is flooded with new 'vintage' reproductions from the golden age of rock tees - the 70's & 80's, all pre-washed and faded for that 'vintage look'. As with anything though, there's no substitute for the real deal, a well loved, authentic, classic rock and roll tee.

Rocking out on Sunset Strip; Jessica Alba in the ubiquitous 'Rolling Stones' tongue logo shirt, Kristen Stewart goes for edgy and obscure in 'Minor Threat', David Beckham staying true to his East-End roots in 'Iron Maiden', and Mischa Barton channels the 1970's in 'Fleetwood Mac' & high-waisted jeans.

Unlike concert posters and album covers, more celebrated forms of rock and roll art, the rock tee continues to fly under the critics radar. Most memorabilia dealers and major auction houses do not work with vintage rock t-shirts, which is suprising, as vintage clothing retailers and online sellers regularly get hundreds and somtimes thousands of dollars for authentic rock shirts. This critical snub clearly hasn't dampened the publics demand for vintage rock shirts, perhaps even adding to the aura of insider cool and snobbery associated with them. A 'fuck you, rock t-shirts are our culture, you wouldn't understand' kind of attitude.

Promotional rock & roll t-shirts were almost non-existant in the 1950's & 60's, a nascent industry that bloomed in the 70's, and positively exploded in the 80's. Considering that millions of these shirts were produced in their day, authentic vintage rock shirts are suprisingly hard to find, and it's difficult to estimate how many have survived over the years. Washing, wear and time all take their toll on clothing and fabrics, not least cheaply made t-shirts, so it's not hard to imagine that the majority have disintegrated over the years, or were simply thrown away as musical tastes and trends changed. This of course adds to their exclusive appeal and financial value. A great rock shirt is always an exciting find for any vintage lover or dealer, so you can imagine our delight upon unearthing a nice collection of them on a recent buying trip! Here's a few we currently have.....

'The Rolling Stones' '81 tour, San Diego stadium baseball tee

The J. Geils Band & George Thorogood & the Destroyers for support, sold out...of course!

'Boston' third stage tour '87 concert tee

'The Police' Synchronicity North America promotional tee circa 1983

Legendary NYC night club 'Max's Kansas City' cut-off tee

'Cinderella' Night Songs World Tour '86 cut-off tee

'Iron Maiden' World Slavery Tour 84-85 promotional tee

'Thin Lizzy' Thunder & Lightning Farewell Tour 1983

'Michael Jackson' 1984 Thriller sleeveless tee

'Billy Joel' World Tour 1984 tee

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