These Vintage T-Shirts Are Worth Thousands
Vintage collectibles can be worth quite a pretty penny, and vintage T-shirts are no exception. T-shirts from the 1980s and 1990s, especially band T-shirts and ones from movie promos, are back in style.
Their value has grown with their popularity, and these shirts are some of the most valuable tees ever sold.
Vintage Iron Giant 1999 Movie Promo T-Shirt
Bottom line: This vintage tee was from a promo of "The Iron Giant," an animated sci-fi film produced by Warner Bros in 1999. The seller stored the tee and its matching hat in sealed plastic bags for over two decades, so they were essentially brand-new at the time of sale.
They were also (supposedly) less than 25 shirts made, originally intended for cast members only.
Vintage Fleetwood Mac T-Shirt
Bottom line: Fleetwood Mac has sold over 120 million records to date. It should come as no surprise that their retro merch is worth a lot.
This vintage tee was clearly worn, but even with some discoloration, it went for well over a grand on eBay.
Rare Misprint Vintage '90s Baby Kurt Cobain T-Shirt
Bottom line: Kurt Cobain's death was a tragedy, but his angst-inspired compositions are immortal. This rare T-shirt is an anomaly: On the front, in small print next alongside the photo, the text reads: 1995, the end of music, while on the back, the year 1993 is printed.
It's unclear whether that was a misprint, or whether the 1993 date is referencing the year the lyrics printed on the shirt were written. Either way, the shirt was worth a bucketload.
Vintage Neon Genesis Evangelion Anime T-Shirt
Bottom line: This old T-shirt featuring anime characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion was made in 1998. Like most vintage graphic tees, it's not perfect. The printed graphics are cracking, and the dye is faded but other than that, it was in great condition.
Looks like washing your clothes with care pays off.
Vintage 1994 NFA Grateful Dead Panther Band Tee
Bottom line: In case you live under a rock, the Grateful Dead was an American rock band that formed in the mid-1960s in California. Its eclectic style, spearheading the jam band movement, inspired a devoted fanbase who dubbed themselves "Deadheads."
Their aesthetic matched their sound, and this Black Panther tee didn't stray far from their norm. It was from a one-time event, however, when the Grateful Dead performed at a Black Panther benefit in Oakland, California, in 1971. The group was apolitical, but they hit it off with one of the group's leaders and were happy to participate. This T-shirt is a remake of the original, but even the 1994 print is a valuable vintage.
Vintage Levi's Men's Blue 1970s Cowboy Tee
Bottom line: Levi's have been around since 1853, but it wasn't until the 1960s that the brand really took off. Modern jeans appeared as early as the 1920s, but few people wore them besides cowboys, railroad workers and lumberjacks. Come World War II, they were sold to soldiers. After that, jeans evolved into a trendy look among several youth subcultures, like rockers and hippies.
The blue jeans craze didn't change the company's roots, however, and they still tried to represent their hardworking, Western aesthetic throughout their development, as shown on this vintage tee from the '70s.
Stephen Sprouse Iconic 1987 God Save NYC Silver Graffiti T-Shirt
Bottom line: This vintage tee is a piece of tragic history. It was from a collection by Stephen Sprouse that launched in 1987 when the reality of the AIDS epidemic came crashing down. This year marked the end of an era, with the death of Andy Warhol, the crash of Wall Street and a rise in activism for the LGBTQ+ community.
The T-shirt itself was yellowed due to age, but that didn't water down the shirt's symbolism to the lucky buyer.
Vintage Disney 'Toy Story' T-Shirt
Bottom line: Vintage Disney never gets old, and this tee tugs at the heartstrings of every '90s kid. "Toy Story" 1 came out on Nov. 22, 1995, and "Toy Story 2" followed four years later. The familiar graphics from this '90s-era tee turned it into a valuable collectible.
Let that be a lesson to anyone visiting Disneyland in the near future: If you buy a souvenir tee, grab an extra to store for later. It might be worth something one day.
Vintage Mosquitohead T-Shirt
Bottom line: Ever heard of The Cramps? Founded in the late '70s, The Cramps was best known for leading the punk rock movement and contributing to the development of the psychobilly genre. Their music was dark, even grotesque, but fans loved it.
The tee was made in the '90s and was heavily worn, but to certain collectors, that's not a dealbreaker. Some appreciate the softness and authenticity of a worn-in tee.
This one was also made by Mosquitohead, an apparel manufacturer known for hand-making each item.
Vintage Deadpool T-Shirt
Bottom line: Band T-shirts aren't the only valuable ones out there. This Marvel Year-in-Review shirt was made in 1993, showcasing the three latest villains. At the time, that included Deadpool, Venom and Sabertooth.
The shirt looks a bit faded, but according to the seller, it was rarely worn, and the graphic was hardly cracked at all.
Vintage Ramones Band T-Shirt
Bottom line: When the Ramones, an American punk rock band from Queens, New York, formed in 1974, punk rock wasn't yet a thing. That's why they're often considered the fathers of punk rock and still cited as an influential band of their time.
Their minimalistic style reeled in a new era of punk fashion, inspired by comic books, Andy Warhol, Mad magazine and avant-garde films. Throw a leather jacket on top of this bad boy, along with ripped jeans and a pair of sneakers, and you'll look just like one of the original bandmates.
Vintage Super Mario 64 T-Shirt
Bottom line: It's-a-me, Mario! This ultra-rare Super Mario 64 shirt was a mashup of a Nickelodeon promo tee, with the Super Mario design superimposed in 1996.
Even with a few imperfections, the hard-to-find tee sold for thousands. That just goes to show that even if a vintage item of yours has a few spots or a minor tear, it might still be worth something.
Vintage Nirvana Concert T-Shirt
Bottom line: This is why it's worth waiting in line for a T-shirt whenever you go to a concert. This one was from a concert on April 9, 1993, at the San Francisco Cow Palace.
It was a benefit event for Tresnjevka Women's Group, and the shirt was sold from the collection of Nirvana's sound engineer Craig Montgomery. Since the shirt was only worn and washed once, it was in practically brand-new condition when it was listed on eBay.
Natural Born Killers Rare Vintage Promo T-Shirt
Bottom line: "Natural Born Killers" was an American crime film produced by Warner Bros. in 1994. The riveting film portrays the story of two lovers with tortured pasts who turn into serial killers.
The film was gory enough to inspire horrific copycat crimes, and the shirt's price tag was practically a crime, too.
Vintage Ozzy Osbourne Tattoo T-Shirt
Bottom line: This has to be one of the most colorful vintage tees we've ever seen. The bold, tattoo-inspired print captured the essence of Ozzy Osborne, the former lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath.
At the time, he went by the "Prince of Darkness," and it's easy to see why. Littered with skulls and fanged demons, the T-shirt was made at an exclusive screen printing show and was kept in storage all these years.
Vintage C-Murder Rap Tee
Bottom line: Who else would go by a name like C-Murder other than a '90s hip-hop artist? Corey Miller was a rapper in the mid-1990s who released nine albums, including one that went platinum in 1998.
In 2002, however, his stage name hit a little too close to home. He was arrested on murder charges and later sentenced to life in prison. Not even a million $3,000 tees can get him out of that one, but witnesses rescinding their testimonies might.
1993 Rage Against the Machine Long-Sleeve Vintage Concert Shirt
Bottom line: Rage Against the Machine was formed in 1991 and is still widely popular to this day. But it's the band's 1993 show when they opened for House of Pain in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that vintage T-shirt collectors are after. This T-Shirt design was only sold during that time, so finding one is tough.
It isn't new, but it was sold in good vintage condition with some minor fraying and bleach splatter.
Alice in Chains Vintage T-Shirt
Bottom line: The grunge band Alice in Chains was formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney. The pair later brought on Mike Starr on base and Layne Staley as the lead vocalist, leading to a distinctive style of harmonized vocals that was unique within the genre.
This shirt came from their 1991 tour. Reproductions of it are virtually worthless, but authentic band tees like this one are worth thousands.
Vintage Disney Aladdin T-Shirt
Bottom line: Another win for Disney fans. Featuring Genie from Disney's Aladdin, this unique tee from the '90s was designed by Stanley Desantis, an actor and businessman who owned a clothing and memorabilia business.
Most of his products featured licensed characters, and this was one of them.
1990 Alice In Chains Facelift Tour Tee
Bottom line: Another Alice in Chains tee, this one was purchased at the July 10, 1991, Clash of the Titans tour in Greenville, South Carolina.
Most shirts like this are found in the attics of fans of the '90s grunge movement, led by Alice in Chains and similar bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Few are found in such good condition. If you have one without any rips or stains, consider yourself lucky.
Vintage Coco Chanel T-Shirt
Bottom line: When you think of vintage T-shirts, baby tees don't usually come to mind. This Coco Chanel tee from 1996 is the exception. Made of pink velour with the CC monogram, the design is one of a kind.
The monogram has been in use since the 1920s, not long after Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel launched the brand. She spearheaded the feminine, sporty, casual-chic style that replaced the more formal, restrictive wear that was common throughout the 1800s. Her brand continued to represent elegance and wealth despite its more comfortable structure, and she became the only fashion designer included in Time's list of 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Vintage 1990s Tank Girl T-Shirt
Bottom line: If you've never heard of "Tank Girl," don't feel bad. "Tank Girl" was a post-apocalyptic British comic series that was turned into an American sci-fi flick in 1995.
While it received mixed reviews and wasn't a hit at the box office, it turned into a comic-book cult classic thanks to its undercurrent of feminist themes.
Since it wasn't the most popular of movies, tees like this are few and far between.
Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe Pop Art T-Shirt
Bottom line: $5,000 for a T-shirt?! We'd be more surprised if it weren't for this vintage T-shirt's backstory. It's an official Andy Warhol T-shirt made in the Netherlands and purchased at the National Gallery in Athens, Greece, all the way back in 1993.
It's officially licensed and has the original tag. We get it now.
Vintage Nirvana T-Shirt
Bottom line: It's a little hard to see what the pattern is on this old Nirvana tee, but it's the pattern from their Heart-Shaped Box album, featuring realistic lily flowers and cookie-cutter hearts.
It's not brand-new, but it was rarely worn and was kept in storage from 2003 on. That must have been close enough to brand-new to whoever purchased it for over five grand.
A Low Down Dirty Shame T-Shirt
Bottom line: If you've never heard of "A Low Down Dirty Shame," we don't blame you. It received a 4 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a place on several worst movie lists. Strangely, its sheer awfulness earned the movie a bit of a cult following.
The action comedy film's hip-hop and R&B soundtrack did a bit better than the film itself, peaking at No. 14 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts for the year. This shirt was produced as a streetwear promo for the film. There must be a "Dirty Shame" superfan out there because someone snatched it up for $40,000.