We all know clothing represents much more than just a way to protect our body from the outside environment. They represent our style, who we are, what we stand for. For many, picking up what to wear every day is a statement. Making a statement so important that sometimes the items they select to wear are extremely rare – with that scarcity increasing the item’s value and desirability. This is often what happens with a vintage t-shirt.
Multimillion-dollar clothing brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton have their very own t-shirts. The legacy of these brands is so powerful, that finding a Chanel vintage t-shirt or a Louis Vuitton piece to own is something extremely exciting and valuable to certain people.
However, this doesn’t happen only with clothing brands. Companies, in general, have been using t-shirts as a tool for marketing and branding for a long time. T-shirts help promote the brand and, by being highly visible, are very efficient in reminding the wearer, and everyone directly in contact with them, about the brand – leading to valuable brand recognition.
This happens with t-shirts because they are so casual that we can wear them on a daily basis. Which means that these branded items can become very visible. However, not in a way where everyone can buy them, but more in a way that everyone knows about them. It helps the brand grow in popularity, regardless if that will lead into more sales or not.
Companies and marketeers are very aware of this which is why they use t-shirts to expand their brand presence, value and marketing reach.
T-Shirts and Branding
T-shirts basically evolved from items being used as an undergarment in the military. In 1942, Life Magazine had an Air Corps Gunnery School t-shirt on its cover. Over time, there has been a transition to everyday clothing, and they are now very popular garments.
Following the path of brands and t-shirts going hand in hand, Coca-Cola and Disney, two gigantic companies started using t-shirts as a serious marketing tool in the 70’s. They were also some of the very first brands to start using them as a product placement opportunity.
CREEM magazine, famously promoted and sold t-shirts, which are still produced for sale today. John Lennon is one of the celebrities noted for wearing a CREEM magazine t-shirt, which would undoubtedly now make the one that he actually wore an extremely rare and vintage t-shirt.
Being that such t-shirts are anything but something new, many of them have actually become vintage and rare products. Rare and vintage t-shirts are now never out of fashion, and acquiring them has become something far more important than owning brand new ones.
Part of the explanation for their rarity might be due to the fact that t-shirt manufacturers were very much smaller back then with less volumes being manufactured of each new t-shirt.
This means that you won’t find a ton of vintage Coca Cola t-shirts. This is what makes them rare and vintage in the first place and adds way more value to them.
Branding t-shirts with a brand logo, or a famous quote, is one thing. Companies and brands have taken the possibilities on to a different level. T-shirts are no longer just about the brand logo itself but about the product, its placement, perceived value and popularity.
The movie Napoleon Dynamite is quite famous for its t-shirts – the originals of which are now quite rare. The movie was released in 2004 and instead of branding the t-shirts with simply the name of the movie, there was a variety of t-shirt content referencing the movie’s content itself with some even mimicking outfits worn in the movie by the actors.
Another movie example is Forrest Gump, released in 1994, for which there was a famous series of t-shirts produced each with differing variations of the cover picture of the movie.
The Coca-Cola t-shirts created and used in the 90’s are still a huge thing. The t-shirts carry a unique charm to them with their classic old school logo and design. The originals are unique, rare, and provide an excellent opportunity to reminisce about the faded old days.
The famous Coca-Cola t-shirt with the “Have a Coke and a smile” quote has become quite a desirable item for collectors and fans of the brand. That original t-shirt is hard to find, especially in good quality, which increases its value even more.
More than Just a T-shirt
Aside from the clothing world, and fashion brands that revolve around t-shirts, many other companies and brands have used them as an opportunity for marketing. Even though their main product isn’t exactly a t-shirt, Levis Jeans, a jeans company created in 1873, uses them quite extensively to promote its business.
As a matter of fact, vintage Levis t-shirts are much more valuable than their vintage jeans, which is their main product. Most clothing companies now have a variety of t-shirts that they systematically use to reinforce the brand.
Other industries such as rock bands in the music industry, for example, were early adopters in using t-shirts as a way to promote their brands. Even today, vintage rock bands t-shirts are trendy among celebrities and nearly everyone else.
Fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and other designer and clothing brands have also entered into the t-shirt branding trend. Not only to just sell t-shirts but to promote their fashion brands.
It’s interesting to note that a vintage t-shirt not always means an actual vintage t-shirt, but, at times, also a vintage like t-shirt – with a vintage model and design, but new and recently produced inspired by an old or retro looking logo, like in the case of some modern Levis Jeans or Coca-Cola t-shirts. And then there are the real vintage t-shirts, that have won the battle against time.
Collectors see much more value in the real vintage t-shirts, especially as they are so difficult and hard to find. You can also find other brands’ vintage pieces, such as Chanel, selling at high prices, especially when celebrities or style influencers wear them.
At the end of the day, often these vintage t-shirts are so much more desirable and valuable because they represent a different time and bring out a strong sense of nostalgia.
Often, they were worn by yesteryear celebrities, people or brands that we looked up to in the past and many of those that we hold dear – including ourselves – in days long gone past. Being so, they have become laden with so much more meaning, value and a certain charm.
This, of course, helps brands in promoting their business, while giving fans and people something nice to collect and a great opportunity to reminisce.