It’s a trend that seems like it just won’t die: the vintage T-shirt, the campier the better. Old cloth is popular in general, but nothing tops the mystique of a well-worn vintage tee. Of particular interest to vintage connoisseurs at the moment is the mighty rock ‘n’ roll T-shirt, particularly those from the ’70s and ’80s with an ironic flair (aging Whitesnake fans everywhere must be making a killing). For some, the search for the ultimate so-geeky-it’s-cool chest statement is an obsession. Collectors are willing to pay a premium for a shirt pre-sweated in in the front row of an REO Speedwagon concert. Prices for some silkscreen cotton rarities can top $100 or more. Here are some local spots to hunt for that Winger tee you wish you bought when you were six, and a glimpse of their other pre-worn items of interest.
2590 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.
Probably the vintage T-shirt mecca of Portland, among other things. Those in need of a pastel-colored ruffly tuxedo shirt will not be sorely disappointed, either. Summer dresses for women are also a top seller.
This Portland-based web site, while having no physical store, has a massive collection of the most ironic of the ironic vintage tees. There’s no shortage of Journey tour shirts here, though many sell at a premium price.
1420 S.E. 37th Ave.
1036 W. Burnside St.
The national chain has two Portland locations, one east-side, one west-side, meaning lots of racks to comb through. White peasant skirts have been a top seller for women lately. “Think Little House on the Prairie,” Amy, a store manager, advised. For the guys, Diesel jeans sell as quickly as they come in. Vintage Adidas sneakers are also popular.
520 S.W. Ninth Ave.
“Reconstructed” clothing – clothes created from the hacked up bits of other old clothes – have been a hot seller at this Portland vintage standby. One brand from Canada called Pre-Loved makes items like a dress made out of old trench coats and jeans made from vintage denim. “They’re cut amazingly,” Magpie employee Saul Burbridge said. “They look so good.”
410 S.W. Oak St.
One of the oldest vintage stores in Portland, Avalon specializes in the truest of vintage digs, with relics from as far back as the ’20s. High-cut, three-button suits from the ’50s and ’60s have been the store’s bread and butter, according to Avalon employee Simon, who said customers are wearing bright colored shirts and unconventional ties to complete the look. “A lot of people are going the opposite of business casual,” he said.