In the early 2000s, there was a massive vintage t-shirt boom online. Having grown up in the 1970s and 80s (and being a sucker for nostalgia) it didn’t take long before my closet was filled with them. My entrepreneurial spirit quickly followed suit and I began buying and selling them online.
Defunkd.com was founded in March of 2004 as a simple support site for a genuine vintage t-shirt store on eBay. Over the course of our next few years, we sold over 15,000 tees via eBay and maintained near perfect feedback rating (it’s estimated that as little as 20% actually leave feedback). In 2007 Defunkd was recognized by eBay and awarded for our efforts.
But by this time the poly/cotton boom of the early 2000s was long gone, the fashion fad had taken a hiatus, yet the market remained stable because of collectors. The t-shirt had indeed carved out its own niche within the vast and quirky world of collectibles.
With collectible status achieved, they became deserving of documentation and discussion. So after paying my dues in dusty raghouses and thrift shops [cough] in 2007 I shifted my focus to our domain and Defunkd.com was enhanced in blog and forum format. Thanks to a community effort from our members, Defunkd is the world’s leading vintage t-shirt resource. We were among the first (if not the first) to begin formally documenting vintage t-shirts, prints, tags and everything else related to this collectible. If you’re looking for a particular vintage tee, trying to dig up information about an old brand, or attempting to determine if your shirt is true vintage – we have your back.
These old rags are snapshots of popular culture and have a diverse range of sub-genres: movie, motorcycle, etc. Of course, music is the most popular component. Rock, heavy metal, punk, hip hop, and so on – these garments are relics of music history. Don’t believe me? How about that time a rare Led Zeppelin t-shirt sold for $10,000?
Unfortunately in every genre of collectible, where there’s money, capitalism strikes, and fraudsters quickly follow. Disappointed with how other marketplaces dealt with the rampant problem of forgeries, fakes, counterfeits, bootlegs and reproduction tees (full terminology) I decided something had to be done. In October of 2011 Defunkd was further enhanced with a multi-vendor platform becoming the world’s first online marketplace focusing exclusively on authentic vintage t-shirts.
When your torso needs a real vintage t-shirt, we have your back.
Jimmy J (AKA James Applegath)