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Don’t You Want Me: 20+ Rare Vintage New Wave T-Shirts From the 1980s

20+ Vintage New Wave T-Shirts From the 1980s

New Wave

Don’t You Want Me: 20+ Rare Vintage New Wave T-Shirts From the 1980s

Electronic sounds. Synthesizers. Avant-garde fashion. Bizarre hairstyles. And music videos that made absolutely no sense. New Wave in the 1980s was the best. Here are 20+ vintage t-shirts to celebrate this unique sound.

Vintage Soft Cell Memorabilia T-Shirt

vintage soft cell memorabilia t-shirt

Fact: Despite being a nightclub anthem Soft Cell’s Memorabilia 12″ release was a commercial flop. Phonogram Records opted to give the band a final chance to score a hit with a second single. The synth-duo decided to re-work an obscure track titled Tainted Love released by Gloria Jones in 1964. Jones would later become known as a member of T-Rex, Marc Bolan’s girlfriend, and the driver during the car accident that cost Bolan his life. While she recovered in the hospital fans looted their possessions and she was left with nothing. Talk about tainted love.

Approximate value: $300

Vintage Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Two Tribes T-Shirt

vintage fgth ronald reagan t-shirt

Fact: While Relax was topping the charts and being banned for its sexually suggestive lyrics F.G.T.H released their politically provocative Two Tribes song. The track’s similar sound piggybacked on the success of Relax and even had a don’t “shoot” message of its own given the cold war theme. In ’84 Reagan was at the height of his popularity and only a few years removed from an assassination attempt – you can bet Frankie had their sights set on causing a stir with this tee.

Approximate value: $150-$200

Vintage Animotion Obsession T-Shirt

vintage animotion obsession t-shirt

Fact: Hey, do you know that song that goes: Dun….dun-dun-dun-dun? It’s the theme song to Fashion Television – and gets regular airplay in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. More recently it was featured as #12 on VH-1’s 100 one-hit-wonders of the 1980s. Technically speaking the band can’t be considered one-hitters given they had a second top ten hit in 1989 called Room to Move (although I’m not really sure how that happened.) Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a one-hitter – creating a single song that will be enjoyed for all eternity is pretty effin cool. And if you’re looking to catch them live, the band still makes the odd performance to this day – check them out here.

Approximate value: $100

Vintage Wang Chung Everybody Have Fun T-Shirt

vintage wang chung everybody have fun tonight t-shirt

Fact: This British new wave outfit was originally called Huang Chung for two years before they replaced Huang with Wang. The band reportedly grew tired of people incorrectly pronouncing “Huang” as “Hung” rather than “Wang” and altered the spelling on their second album. Intended or accidental innuendo aside what does the name really mean? The band first explained that it meant “perfect pitch” but later changed their tune and said it’s the sound an electric guitar makes.

Approximate value: $150-$200

Vintage Brain Brain Mark Atkins T-Shirt

Vintage Brain Brain Mark Atkins T-Shirt

Drummer Martin Atkins joined Public Image Limited in 1979 first contributing to “Bad Baby” on their Metal Box album. But in 1980 Atkins went on hiatus from PIL to concentrate on his on new wave outfit known as Brian Brain. In 1981 Atkins rejoined PIL and remained active until he fully departed in 1985 to reform Brian Brain. That same year BB released an EP under Plaid Records (Atkins’ short-lived label.) Through their years the band had a few modest hits but were far from mainstream so you can bet their t-shirts are pretty scarce. In fact the one offered through the Collective (above) appears to be the only BB tee for sale anywhere.

The Collective has new wave covered from ABC to XTC. Ok, ok, the category is still growing so there’s not much in between. But do check out this XTC jersey and the heathered gray ABC tour t-shirt. There’s also an epic Frankie Goes to Hollywood tee which celebrates their ban from the BBC along with a gem by new wave legends Japan.

Vintage 1982 Flock of Seagulls, I Ran T-Shirt

vintage flock of seagulls i ran t-shirt

Fact: Mike Score, one of the founding brothers of AFOS was a hairdresser.

Approximate value: $150-$200

Image courtesy of vintagepimps

Vintage Echo and the Bunnymen James Dean Bunny Shirt

vintage echo and the bunnymen james dean t-shirt

Fact: Echo & the Bunnymen made their debut in 1978 at Liverpool’s Eric’s Club opening for The Teardrop Explodes.

Approximate value: $300-$500

Image Courtesy of supradosuprado

Vintage Culture Club Boy George Jersey T-Shirt

vintage culture club boy george t-shirt

Fact: Prior to fronting Culture Club Boy George occasionally sang with Bow Wow Wow as Lieutenant Lush.

Approximate value: $50-$75

Image Courtesy of vintageretrowear

Vintage Eurythmics the Revenge Tour T-Shirt

vintage eurythmics annie lennox t-shirt

Fact: Annie Lennox and David Stewart were both previously members of bands called The Catch and The Tourists.

Approximate value: $150-$200

Image Courtesy of wyco_vintage

Vintage Missing Persons Spring Session M T-Shirt

vintage missing persons t-shirt

Fact: In some shape or form, four out of five members of MP worked with Frank Zappa.

Approximate value: $100-$150

Image Courtesy of stormcrow-vintage

Vintage Duran Duran T-Shirt

vintage duran duran t-shirt

Fact: The video for Duran’s breakthrough single, Girls on Film, was banned by the BBC because of its raunchiness.

Approximate value: $50-$100

Image Courtesy of wyco_vintage

Vintage Platinum Blonde Alien Invasion Tour T-Shirt

vintage platinum blonde alien invasion t-shirt

Fact: Platinum Blonde was formed in 1983 as a cover band performing the music of The Police throughout Canada’s university and club circuit.

Approximate value: $50-$100

Image Courtesy of vintageretrowear

Vintage Oingo Boingo Wake Up T-Shirt

vintage oingo boingo wake up t-shirt

Fact: Boingo was led by Danny Elfman who also found success as a composer for film and t.v. Elfman is a four-time Academy Award nominee who won a Grammy Award for Tim Burton’s Batman and scribed the theme to the Simpsons.

Approximate value: $75-$150

Image Courtesy of teakay123

Vintage Bow Wow Wow Jungle Boy T-Shirt

vintage bow wow wow jungle boy t-shirt

Fact: Bow Wow Wow was formed when Malcolm McLaren persuaded three members of Adam and the Ants to leave the band.

Approximate value: $250

Image Courtesy of stormcrow-vintage

Vintage The Motels Little Robbers T-Shirt

vintage the motels little robbers t-shirt

Fact: All Four One was a re-recording of an unreleased album titled, Apocalypso.

Approximate value: $50

Image Courtesy of silverruins

Vintage Tears for Fears USA Tour 1983 T-Shirt

vintage tears for fears t-shirt big chair tour

Fact: TFF was scheduled to perform at Live-Aid but canceled the day of claiming two of their backing band members decided not to play. Later on it was revealed that the band was questioning Geldof’s motives and were also peeved they had been announced as an act without being asked. But the boys from Tears more than made up for it by donating the proceeds from four of their gigs to the cause and working with Geldof’s Sport Aid project.

Approximate value: $200

Image Courtesy of stormcrow-vintage

Vintage XTC Skylarking T-Shirt

vintage xtc skylarking t-shirt

Fact: Together from 1976 to 2005 XTC is more known for their lengthy success rather than any individual hit.

Approximate value: $200

Image Courtesy of wyco-vintage

Vintage A-Ha T-Shirt

vintage a-ha t-shirt

Fact: A-ha is by Norway’s biggest music export and the video for “Take on Me” is widely considered to be one of the best music videos ever made.

Approximate value: $150

Image Courtesy of: wyco-vintage

Vintage Adam Ant Strip Tour Jersey

vintage adam ant strip t-shirt

Fact: The title track on this album featured Phil Collins on drums and lyrics by Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA.

Approximate value: $200

Image Courtesy of: teakay123

Vintage Howard Jones USA Tour T-Shirt

vintage howard jones t-shirt

Fact: Howard Jones had his debut performance on a BBC show called Top of the Pops. He later watched the delayed broadcast on a borrowed TV set that was resting on an ironing board.

Approximate value: $75

Image Courtesy of stormcrow-vintage

Vintage Modern English Stop Start T-Shirt

vintage modern english stop start t-shirt

Fact: I Melt With You is played in the credits sequence of the film Valley Girl.

Approximate value: $150

Image Courtesy of stormcrow-vintage

Vintage The Human League DARE! T-Shirt

vintage the human league t-shirt dare!

Fact: The red angled letters ensure this gem is easily mistaken for the D.A.R.E. PSA t-shirts. And that’s a good thing since those Drug Abuse Resistance Education tees have their own ironic place in our vintage hearts. But it’s the subtle Human League neon blue arm print that makes it impossible to resist if you’re a fan of the iconic British new wave band. Dare! (just Dare in the U.K.) was The Human League’s biggest selling album because it featured their most successful track, Don’t You Want Me. The fans have been answering yes to that question since 1977 – given THL has released nine studio albums, four EPs, and twenty-nine singles. They’re one of the most successful synthpop outfits of all time.

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Jimmy founded Defunkd in 2004 when he started selling vintage t-shirts online. 20 years of experience later and he hasn't looked back since. Actually, he looks back all the time given he's a sucker for nostalgia. For more, check the history of Defunkd and Jimmy's Expertise.

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