The six racy (racist?) vintage Harley tees above raked in whopping $2839.47 on eBay in the last month. These days corporations are crucified when their marketing message isn’t politically correct – so collectors of all genres are willing to shell out more for the offensive.
All but one of the t-shirts above are compliments of The Rocky Mountain Harley Dealership in Littleton Colorado. With the exception of the bottom right they all feature various incarnations of their logo on the back. The dealership is still going strong to this day – but their t-shirt selection still features skulls… but way less head. And Rocky Mountain’s tees get even more offensive here.
The most taboo vintage Harley tee I’ve seen surface online is from a dealership in San Francisco reportedly owned by the Hell’s Angels. It got pulled within six hours of the listing due to eBay’s Nazi/swastika policy. But despite the listing’s cancellation by eBay – the seller still managed to field offers and landed $350 for it privately.
How could a corporation like Harley allow these types of messages on their merch? Seems to us that up until the 1990s they had loose rules with regards to the marketing done by individually owned dealerships. If you owned a shop, you could use the logo and head office was never involved in approving it. Or at least I’m certain that’s what HD’s PR department would say. The dealerships on the other hand might claim they were just provided printed t-shirts by head office with blank backs that they were allowed to customize.
What ever the case may be tees like these are a reminder that corporate marketing is far more responsible. And boring.
Should corporations be accountable for marketing of days past? Should eBay, Defunkd and other online marketplaces pull tees with these types imagery/messages?
Do you have an offensive Harley tee up your sleeves?
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