Vintage T-Shirts for Men: The Best Places to Buy Secondhand Tees Online
We’ve been known to regale our audience with long, meandering diatribes in praise of the box-fresh T-shirt. But, truth be told, there’s just nothing quite as satisfying as perfectly broken in vintage T-shirts for men. The faded colors, the mesmerizing crazing of decades-old screen-printed graphics, the unparalleled softness to which brand new tees aspire (and marketing teams call “lived-in”). Vintage tees come with character that can’t easily be faked. They’re the antithesis of the pristine, vacuum-packed bulk buys you’ll find at big box stores. They’re a surefire way to pump an outfit with personality when things are feeling a bit lifeless. And of course they’re a lot better for the planet. What’s not to love?
Flipping through racks and racks of busted clothes is part of the fun, but it’s not part of everyone’s idea of fun. As much as we’d like to get all philosophical and tell you that shopping for vintage clothing is about the journey and not the destination, we’re here to hand you the roadmap and show you the shortcut (hey, life’s too short and every vintage tee is a one-off). Whether you’re after novelty graphic tees, retro single-stitch blanks, or rare concert tour T-shirts, here are the best places to shop for vintage men’s T-shirts online.
Watch The GQ Recommends Show: How GQ Staffers Style Their Favorite Vintage T-Shirts
eBay sells literally everything making it both a wild place and the world’s largest vintage store. You may not get the ambience of a physical vintage store, but trawling through its endless pages trying to filter the wheat from the chaff is about as close as you can get to the real thing. There’s a digital Everest of vintage T-shirts on eBay and if you’re willing to make the harrowing climb, you could strike gold.
While eBay can feel like a jungle, Etsy comes off more like a curated flea market. There are vendors that sell their DIY crafts, others that sell vintage home goods, and and others that just sell tchotchkes. And like any flea market, there’s always a guy selling old T-shirts. It feels a little more polished than eBay and less daunting, especially since you don’t have to worry about getting into any bidding wars.
Grailed is the go-to place for the style-minded guys who know their Junya from their Jun as well as ravenous streetwear resellers. It’s also become a place for some of the coolest, best-curated vintage tees. That said, don’t hold your breath if you’re hoping to stumble upon a rare find for a crazy deal.
Wyco Vintage is one of the most comprehensive places to buy the rarest vintage T-shirts. Their archive of band tees is like walking into a library where T-shirts are sorted by musical artist, genre, decade, and more. Vintage Grateful Dead tees galore, Led Zeppelin tees up the wazoo, with a good selection of rare hip hop tees, too. But you can also score hard-to-find Star Wars tees, tie-dye, and even a smattering of vintage streetwear. If you know what you’re after and don’t want to have to wade through a sea of unfiltered tees (isn’t that what thrift stores are for?), Wyco’s library of vintage is what you should check out.
The Google-friendly name says it all. Sweet Vintage T-shirts is a cavalcade of tees organized into expected categories like band tees and sports as well as “fun & party,” “animal shirt,” and, simply, “iconic.” It’s a deep well, so prepare to scroll for a while.
Intramural’s aesthetic encompasses everything from furniture design to audiophile culture and beyond. The eclectic shop is the result of founder Bijan Shahvali’s sharp eye that, somehow, finds an indescribable common thread between seemingly disparate objects. Where else can a vintage IBM mug, a Herman Miller cycling jersey, and a promotional Wrangler-branded ash tray all live in harmony under the same roof? If you love design, jazz, and cinema (Shahvali’s been tapped by A24 among other high-profile brands to curate a pointed vintage offering), check out Intramural and its fine-tuned selection of graphic T-shirts.
A frequent go-to source of inspiration for brands like Bode, Moth Food’s slate of vintage Americana is breathtaking. Their vintage tees span mostly from the ‘60s through the ‘90s with less focus on the usual band tee fare and more on regional cultural artifacts, animals, and nature. That vintage flower tee your middle school teacher wore? Yeah—it’s a grail now.
Based in Los Angeles, Unsound Rags is known for its brooding aesthetic. You can count on them for vintage Levi’s and work jackets, but their esoteric collection of vintage T-shirts is among the best. Peep them if you’re looking for thrashed and sun-faded single-stitch blank tees, crude humor graphic tees, and rare shoegaze band T-shirts.
Vintage New York Yankees and Mets tees will always be cool, at least to the Brooklyn-based store Select Vintage. But they’ll also stock vintage pro wrestling tees, video game tees, and promotional movie merch with a focus on the 1990s and 2000s, i.e., the sweet spot of millennial nostalgia.
Kissing Booth focuses on vintage Americana, militaria, and workwear, so you’re likely to walk away with a sick pair of worn Levi’s or a chore coat. When it comes to their vintage tee shirt offering, you’ll find a grip of candy-colored graphic tees from the ‘70s including a generous helping of vibey ringer-style tees. But you’ll also find a smattering of blanks from the ‘60s and punk rock tees from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
While there’s plenty of love for vintage diner merch, NASCAR graphics, and New York-related, well, anything, few are giving old-school professional wrestling the attention it deserves. The on-the-nose Wrestling 4 Sale is an instant flashback to backyard bashes and heart-pumping beefcake antics from classic names like Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter.
If you think about your agonizingly swaggy friend who gets their closet exclusively from vintage stores, it’s highly likely they’re shopping at The Captain’s Vintage. It’s the kind of shop that you can clearly picture IRL: rusty metal pipes for clothing racks, ‘70s psych wafting through the airwaves, mint condition vintage toys and pop culture trading cards mixed in among stacks of jeans. Most other vintage shops would struggle to amass such a humungous stockpile of tees with such a wide range of styles while also keeping the quality of the inventory high. Yet, TCV is doing just that with hardly a dud in sight.
Looking at the tees in Twofold’s catalog, a few words come to mind: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The site’s a repository of beer-soaked grails, a shrine to the likes of Sid Vicious and Tool, naughty novelty tees rude slogans. The overall aesthetic falls in line with anyone who proclaims their love for archives of pioneering designers like Helmut Lang, Raf Simons, and Vivienne Westwood.
Vintage tees aren’t always about insane graphics. Sometimes it’s about the simple pleasures of a good sun fade and a smattering of moth holes. Pearled Ivory’s selection of tees emphasizes vintage blanks in various states of thrashedness alongside vintage thermals and a peppering of band tees.
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