How to Buy Vintage T-shirts (And Avoid Buying Fake Ones)

If you need guidance on how to buy vintage T-shirts, then this article is for you.

Here, we’ll support you in choosing and buying cheap and suitable vintage T-shirts.

Besides, after reading this article, you can determine if the vintage T-Shirt is a real or fake product.

Sounds good, right?

Then do not waste any time more but scroll down right now.

The Vintage Shirt Terms

50/50 or fifty-fifty

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The 50/50 (or Fifty-Fifty) explains to you the materials of the T-Shirt. Typically, a 50/50 T-shirt is made of half cotton and half polyester. Compared to the clothes made of full cotton, the 50/50 one is much cheaper and more common on the market.


The term “Deadstock” shows that the T-shirt is 100% new. However, not many stores hang the tag “Deadstock” on their product. So, if you want to find brand new shirts, follow our tips below:

  • Smooth seams: If the shirt has been washed, its seams usually cinch up. Therefore, when you try the clothes on, you may feel a little bit of ripple at your neck and shoulders.
  • Crisp tag: Every clothes has a tag attached. This tag is made from stiff paper. If the tag is worn or in bad quality, probably, the shirt is not deadstock.
  • Many similar products: If you find so many T-shirts that look identically, the chance for them to be new is very high. Because every time the manufacturer releases their latest products, they often manufacture a dozen of similar products at once.

Iron-on heat transfer

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Iron-on heat transfer refers to the graphic on the shirt. Specifically, a photo or a text is printed on the shirt under the effect of heat. These graphics are usually colorful images, with eye-catching details.

With the help of iron-on heat, the manufacturer can add them to their clothes easier. However, they are easily worn out or fall out after several washes.


The term “Paper thin” means that the clothes are comfortable and soft to wear. This type of product is often casual items.

Screen printed

Besides “Iron-on heat”, we also have the term “Screen printing”. The term explains that an inky medium is transferred onto the vintage clothes with the help of a screen called mesh. Because this process is very difficult to do, the screen-printed shirts usually feature 1 – 2 colors.

Single stitch

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A single stitch is a prevalent type of construction. In further detail, the manufacturer uses only a single stitching line to secure the fabric edge on the cuff, shoulder, or hem of the clothes.


“Thrashed” shows the T-shirts that are heavily worn but still wearable. Typically, when buying a “Thrashed” item, you may notice that it has some holes and tears. In the worst case, there are dust and stains on it.


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If 50/50 shows the T-shirts made of 2 materials, the Tri-blend refers to the item made of 3 materials. Commonly, a tri-blend product is reinforced with cotton, rayon fabric, and polyester, so that it is super durable and comfortable to wear.

Categories of brands and tags

Many brands produce vintage T-shirts. Each brand is only famous for several years. To determine the T-shirt brand, the only way that we can do is see the product-year written on the tag of it.

Right below are the famous brands of all times:


Vintage Hi-Cru by Stedman

Vintage Soffe Athletic T-shirt

Vintage Champion Blue Bar Tag

Vintage Anvil T-Shirt Tag


Jerzeees by Russel

Hanes Fifty Fifty

1980s Stedman


1990s Delta

1990s Jockey Undershirt

1990s Fruit of the Loom

1990s Hanes Beefy


Size is also an important factor when buying. However, if you notice, an XL shirt made in the year 1995 will be different from an XL shirt made in 1980.

The measurement of size for vintage clothes always changes. So the question is, how to buy vintage T-Shirts that have a suitable size?

In fact, after a few years of use, the shirt may shorten and shrink slowly because the old clothes must have been washed many times. And that is also why new clothes are always more comprehensive than those used for many years despite the same size.

How to Determine a Real Vintage Tee From a Fake One

real vs fake vintage tees

Not every vintage T-shirt is a real product. Some are just fake clothes that have a vintage design. So, please note the following tips to avoid purchasing fake items:

  • See the tag: Check the name of the provider on the clothes’ tag. The real vintage T-shirts are usually made by the old manufacturer.
  • Read the reviews: If you buy a T-shirt online, make sure that you read all the customer reviews on the site before buying. They will tell if the shirts are fake or not.
  • Buy clothes from trustable brands: Some companies sell real vintage tees. Some brands sell fake ones as well. Thus, always research on the Internet to find the top trustable brands.


Congratulations. Now you know how to buy vintage T-Shirts. We hope that the products you get will please you at best. Also, make sure that you follow our tips to stay away from fake tees.

If you have questions about this topic, please comment below. We will answer you in the fastest time.

And now, many thanks for reading.

Further reading:

Down to a vintage tee: pulling on a piece of history

How to Buy Vintage Online: Best Sites for Vintage Tees

Emily "Emmy" Watson

Emily "Emmy" Watson is a fashion enthusiast and blogger who loves to write about the latest fashion trends and collections. She has been working as a fashion stylist for almost 7 years now.

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