The Vintage Pickers Handbook

What to hunt for: An Excerpt From Our Guide, Available On Amazon For Digital Download Soon.

As with anything that you sell, condition is everything. Vintage clothing will always have minor signs of wear and this is expected, but holes, stains, rips, tears, and bad smells are not the features that you are looking for. Occasionally you may find an item that is worth the dry cleaners and worth the repair and spending a little money will pay off in the long run. There are some items that look better with worn or faded features such as an old pair of Converse High-tops or a cool graphic tee and there are buyers that prefer them that way, and this is a good thing for the vintage dealer. Here are a few categories to pick and what to look for in each type of item.


If they are dated then they are a premium! The older the better but most commonly you will find Tees dated from the 80’s and 90’s. A good example was an early 90’s Pearl Jam concert tour tee that was picked for $2 and sold for $80. Be aware, there are reproductions out there and “these are not the droids you’re looking for”. You need to learn how to date tees that do not have a date in the graphics by becoming familiar with the tags. If the tee has no tag such as the newer tees where they print the information on the inside of the tee on the fabric itself, then it is not vintage. The following are just a few categories of tees that sell well.


  • Location, Vacation, and Travel Tees. They need to be authentic and the more exotic the better. Hawaii, California, and Florida does well and anything international. We picked two tees recently, one from Catalina Island in California and another from Maui Hawaii and together they sold to a collector for $85, our cost for both tees was $4. The Catalina tee was from the 80’s and the Maui tee was a 1993 Iron Man Triathlon Completion Hand Out. 


  • Band & Concert tees. They need to be authentic from an actual tour. The tour locations and dates are almost always printed on the tee. Be aware that there are reproductions made by major department stores, so don’t be fooled. A collector knows the difference so do your research. There is plenty of information on the internet to help you properly date a concert/tour tee. A famous early 80’s Run DMC Adidas Concert tee sold on-line recently for well over $20,000. Unfortunately it was not one of ours!


  • Sports Tees. Anything sports related does well, MLB, NFL, NBA and the list goes on. Here in Orange County California we sell a lot of vintage Skateboarding & Surfing tees. Just about any sporting tee and all the sub categories that go along with sports do well. We recently sold a lot of 200 SoCal Surf related tees to an overseas buyer to use in his vintage VW Bug shows all around Britain. Our average cost per tee was $2. 


  • Restaurant or Local Business Tees. There are collectors that collect tees from destination restaurants & bars/pubs. The more obscure or harder to find the better especially if the establishment has been featured on television.


  • Special Event Tees. With this type of tee the date is what makes it collectable and of course the graphics & location is an important feature also. Racing events, Music Venues, Feed the Homeless or Walks to raise money for Cancer Awareness. Just about anything that is notable and has a date of the event.


  • Civic Organizations. Military, Police, Fire, Scouting, & Lifeguard Organizations are just a few areas to focus on. Collages, Schools, and Churches are another great area to collect.