Vintage guide

How much is a vintage piece of clothing worth? The simple answer is that there is no answer, as it is highly subjective. However, below we present you with all the aspects we consider before we value our products. It includes our thoughts on vintage, advices on how to know how old clothes are and if they are legit and our overall learnings after being vintage heads for a couple of years.
Tag/Brand

The first thing we do when we value objects is checking if it’s legit and tracking down the story behind it such as why the piece was made and what year. It’s not always simple to find out but one way of getting a clue is looking at the neck tag. For example, most merchandise for concerts in the 90’s and earlier were made by big manufacturing brands such as Screen Stars (later Fruit of the Loom), Brockum and Hanes and they all had tags. The tags of every brand can differ depending on which year the piece was made and with some knowledge, you can at least track down the span of years when it was produced. Labels that are printed directly on the shirt were invented in 2002 by Hanes and you won’t find clothes with printed labels from earlier than that.

Here is an example of two different Screen Stars tags and the years they were used:
 
Late 1990s
Between 1981-83
First one was produced late 1990s and the last one between 1981-83   
 
The same technique can be used on clothing brands like Nike, Champion, Lacoste etc. It’s important to know that every brand is unique and you have to do your research on that specific brand to know if it’s fake or not. For example, if you see a Lacoste Polo sized with letters such as M or L, then it’s a fake because Lacoste is designed in France and they use numbers instead of letters for sizing.

Another thing that you can tell from the tag is where the garment was made. If it says ”Made in USA” or ”Made in Italy”, then it probably is older and has better quality than pieces that were made in China or Bangladesh.

Here’s an example of two Nike tags from different eras:
 
     
First one between 1994-1999 and the last one between 1987-1992
Single stitching

The single stitch construction is a quick way to scan an item to see if it’s vintage or not. If a shirt is single stitched all over then it’s probably from the 70’s or 80’s. In the late 80’s and early 90’s shirts were manufactured with double stitching on the shoulders and sometimes on the bottom of the shirt. In the late 90’s the double stitch transition were applied to the sleeve cuffs and on basically all contemporary T-shirts that was made in the 2000’s you see that double stitching. There’s a few exceptions were companies tries to copy the vintage look by manufacturing shirts that are single stitched and it’s therefore important to look at other aspects as well, but overall it’s a pretty solid way to analyze T-shirts.

Here are two examples of single and double stitching:
            
First one is double-stitched and the last one is single-stitched

By the way, the definition of ”vintage” is a debated matter and how old a piece should be to be called vintage. Our opinion is that there is no exact amount of years, even if it preferably should be at least 10-15 years old. It’s more important that you can’t buy that exact piece newly produced today, without it to be a reprint.

Year of date

Often the copyright year is printed on the T-shirt in small letters under the actual print or on the back of the tag. Sometimes you can spot it from the print itself, but to be sure that it’s not a reprint you should consider other aspects as well. If the print on a T-shirt says that it’s from an event in the 80’s but it’s double stitched and has a label printed directly on the shirt, then it’s a reprint.

  
Rarity

How unique a piece is depends on many aspects but it all comes down to how hard they are to find. Obviously a piece that is old and were made in small batches for events or similar is more rare than a newer piece than was produced in millions of copies.

Fit

It’s of course important when buying clothes that they are wearable, even for collectors. The actual fit can differ though depending on the fabrics, if they have shrunk, how worn they are and more. If you compare a brand new T-shirt with a worn one from the 80’s or 90’s, the latter one probably would look more relaxed on you due to the fabrics and years of wear.

Also, in the 70’s the mainstream fashion was to wear tight small T-shirts. A large T-shirt then can sometimes be compared to a medium or even a small with todays measures.

The ”true” size can therefore differ from the size in the tag because of many reasons, such as being made in different countries with different measurements, difference from the original size after years of wash and wear and more. We are based in Sweden so we always compare to what it would be labelled as in Sweden. On our website we always write the ”true” size in the title and if it’s marked as something else, then we write that in the description. You can always contact us if you are unsure of the size or want measurements. Also we consider every piece we sell unisex, because style has no gender.
An example of two tees that both says XL in the tag but has different fit:

    First tee is from 1996 and the last tee is from 1986
Quality

Of course quality is of great matter and it can vary a lot from piece to piece. Some tags or brands are more desirable than others because they usually is made in a different way than newer fast-fashion clothes and with other mixes of fabrics. For example, early tees tend to be 50/50. This means that they have 50 percent cotton and 50 percent polyester in them, which makes them more stretchy than 100 percent cotton tees.

Condition

The condition is another aspect that can vary from one piece to another. Although we most often value unused/whole clothing more than worn/damaged, doesn’t necessarily mean that the value drops that much if it has some flaws. You rarely see skate tees or rock tees without any flaws because the culture around it encourage a rougher lifestyle. Skaters fails and falls to the ground every now and then and therefore usually has some small holes in their clothing. And have you ever been at a Metallica concert in the early 90s? Neither have we but some tees have and it usually shows. The point is, if you buy a piece of clothing from 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years ago then you will be wearing a piece of history and sometimes it will have flaws as evidence. Years of wear, fade and flaws could also make pieces look cool and the fit is more often relaxed than newer clothes.

Here’s some different types of condition:
Deadstock - Brand new with tags, never worn.

Clean/dirty

Thin tees - Often from the 70s-80s

Trashed

Details of the print

There could be different reasons to wear clothing but the most common thing is that you want it to look nice, so of course the looks of it is important. The overall looks of it, how clean or detailed it is, details of the print, if it has both front and back print and more. Some clothes are a piece of art, others are a piece of history. If you are lucky enough you’re able to find one that’s both and the price usually is higher for those pieces.   

The difference between a fake and a bootleg

 Every now and then in the vintage community you come across pieces that aren’t authentic. They still can be of value though, but it’s important to be transparent. If you have never heard of the word ”bootleg” before, you should think of it as a tribute to the original creator of the authentic pieces. There’s sometimes difficult to spot the difference between a fake and a bootleg but there are some significant differences, especially in terms of intention. To make things clearer, we’ll show you a link to a list provided by @stuffnikstoff on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CCvl54yBxhI/

We always try our best when we value clothes and being as transparent as we can.

Personal opinion

We sell unique clothing and therefore it can be difficult to find it elsewhere to compare the value with. The vintage community in Sweden isn’t as evolved as the American counterpart for example, and the pricing differs in turn. When we set our price we look at all the factors above, but being as enthusiastic about the vintage culture as we are it’s of course difficult to leave our opinions aside completely. Overall we try to price our items as ”fair” as possible.

Culture around the piece

Last but not least we look at the culture around the item we sell. If it’s a small hardcore culture around it, then it’s probably more difficult to find than an item that comes from a mainstream culture. Also people’s opinion within the culture matters. For example, tees representing a popular album could be worth more than a tee representing a less popular album, even if it’s the same artist. Some movies are more nostalgic to the majority than other movies and so on. It takes a lot of research and knowledge to know these things but culture shifts and you can never be fully learned.

To summarize, these are the factors we use when valuing our clothes. Valuing vintage clothing is highly subjective though and for the right person, it could be priceless.