The Collectability of 80's T-shirts
T-shirts in the 80's were a statement to all who saw them. Some were statements about a teen's favorite rock band or their favorite movie. Others became a personality statement with their whimsical and sometimes funny sayings. As they began their reign over other forms of apparel, they were made primarily with appliques that were steam pressed onto the surface of a fabric. This made a great looking shirt but after numerous times in the washer and dryer, the appliques would begin to bubble, stiffen and peel from the fabric ruining the looks as well as the memory of the design.
A short time after manufacturers discovered they were on to a successful product, someone determined it would be cheaper and easier to screen print the designs and the designs would last much longer than appliqués. Screen printing a shirt allowed them to make numerous t-shirts of the same kind without purchasing more products to do them. It allowed them to mass produce them at a lower cost and greater profits.
Vacations were made extra special with the purchase of souvenir t-shirts that would commemorate their time in a special place or with a special person. Band t-shirts began taking off to promote teen's favorite band that they had seen in concert and cartoon characters adorned the fronts of children and adult's chests. People were proud to wear these stylish clothes and would pay good money to purchase them.
Today these same t-shirts can be purchased in the style of the 80's t-shirts and with very different designs adorning their surfaces. Vintage t-shirts can be found online and from thrift shops around the country. As their owners would gradually outgrow their memorabilia, it would be given as charity to thrift shops to help clothe the less fortunate. Others would simply retain theirs in hopes of finding a collector that was looking for that specific design. Many collectors don't really care whether they will fit them or not, they purchase them to hang as memories of better times.
Some collectors will pay very good money for one shirt that they are missing in a set. For instance, "Dead Heads" collected t-shirts from all of the Grateful Dead's concerts. Missing one of their concerts meant they would have to try to find someone who had purchased a shirt from that specific concert in order to complete their collection. Finding that specific t-shirt became a quest and they would pay almost anything to obtain it.
Whether you are a collector or simply love the 80's t-shirts, you can find just about any style, design and color online. Many people value these shirts and only part with them after wrestling with their adulthood. The 80' may have been a happy time for many but for the t-shirt industry it was only the beginning. The industries success with this funky apparel became one of the longest trends in history. Who knows, hanging on to your old t-shirts could start another trend in about 30 more years.
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