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Archive of Fake VS Real Vintage T-Shirt Tags

Archive of Fake vs Real Vintage T-Shirt Tags


Archive of Fake VS Real Vintage T-Shirt Tags

It wasn’t long ago that you could easily authenticate a vintage tee using just the tag. There was always a chance the counterfeiter had printed on actual vintage blanks, but the majority of brands didn’t have blanks floating around. So when you were examining a t-shirt with a Giant or Wild Oats tag, you almost automatically knew it was legit.

Needless to say, authenticating was far easier in the olden days.

In the mid-2010s, the real trouble began. Convincing versions of the 80s classics like 3D Emblem and Sneakers, started coming out of Thailand and they were attached to blank t-shirts that were accurately sized and constructed. They even had tri-blend versions (though I doubt the material was actually tri-blend as that tag advertised, counterfeiters aren’t known for their honesty.)  But by that time, the market for 80s t-shirts was starting to fade in favor of the 90s, so those fakes didn’t penetrate the market as much as some of us expected, because the counterfeiters quickly realized the real money was in the 1990s.

Fast forward to the 2020s, an era where there are several convincing versions of Giant Tee Jays tags, each new version a little better than the last. And it’s one of the reasons we preach leaning more on a print analysis, rather than the tag when authenticating a vintage t-shirt.

So here’s a comprehensive guide that will be continuously updated as new fakes are identified. If you’ve spotted one in the wild, please get in touch with us.

We’re comparing the real tags versus the fakes because some of these tags are done well enough to even fool an old head. It’s not until they are put beside each other that their inaccuracies are highlighted.

Most of these images of fake tags came from various IG accounts, so be careful out there, Instagram is the wild west when it comes to bootlegs.

Most of the genuine tags came from the Defunkd tag archive, use it, there are instructions here. It was created well before convincing fake tags became a thing.

tag search

Fake Giant by Tee Jays T-Shirt Tags

Fake Giant By Tee Jays T-Shirt Tags

The first version clearly didn’t use enough of a thread count, giving the entire Giant logo a speckled effect. It’s also far too thick.

The second version was an improvement, slightly less speckled, and slightly thinner.

Version three is the best yet, the thread count on the logo is higher but the letters are still too thick. The red detail under the logo is too close to the “ant”.

The type font under Tee Jays is also not sized perfectly.

You’ll see by comparing them to the real deal.

Authentic Vintage Giant by Tee Jays T-Shirt Tag

Authentic Vintage Giant by Tee Jays T-Shirt Tags

Notably, in the real tags, there is still a slight speckled effect, along the top and bottom of the Giant letters but especially within the “Tee Jays” font.

Interestingly, there are different lengths of legit giant tags if you compare the above.

The real tags above were sourced using the Defunkd vintage tag database where you can see a full gallery of legit Giant tags and just about every tag imaginable. Remember, our tag archive existed before fake tags became convincing, and it was populated by sellers who were vetted for honesty.

BTW, there are authentic tags where the giant logo is thick, but it’s generally the Giant by Tultex version. It’s almost as though they combined two versions of real tags to make the forgery.

aiuthentic vintage giant by tultex tag

Fake Hanes Ultraweight T-Shirt Tag

fake hanes ultraweight t-shirt tag

This one is really convincing. And part of the reason for that is that legit Hanes tags from this era and bar design, have a TON of inconsistencies.  So make sure when authenticating these Hanes tags with bars on them, that you compare them against a number of legit tags.

The biggest red flag on this one is H, how tall it is. You’ll see this when you compare it with the one below.

Authentic Vintage Hanes Ultraweight T-Shirt Tags

Authentic Vintage Hanes Ultraweight T-Shirt Tags italics

To my earlier point, check out this other legit Hanes Ultraweight and how it differs from the above. The logo isn’t slanted, the spacing is far different. In this era, Hanes clearly didn’t have a brand book or very much consistency with their tags, which complicates the authentication process.

The good news is that the height of their “H” was consistent.
Authentic Vintage Hanes Ultraweight T-Shirt Tags no italics

And here are further examples of how legit Hanes bar tags have a ton of variances that could be mistaken for forgeries when compared to each other.

Authentic Vintage Hanes Blue Bar T-Shirt Tags

1989 Authentic Vintage Hanes Blue Bar T-Shirt Tag

Notice the differences in spacing between the “%” and “c” above and below. The above tag is from 1989 and below 1988.
1988 Authentic Vintage Hanes Blue Bar T-Shirt Tag

Then check out the massive font in the blue bar in this example circa 1984.
1984 Authentic Vintage Hanes Blue Bar T-Shirt Tag

Fake Wild Oats T-Shirt Tag

fake wild oats tag

One of the dead giveaways for this tag is the fact that the border above it is hidden under the seam. This means they didn’t get the size of the tag correct. Be careful though, because I’ve also seen legit Wild Oats tags that have the same issue, which was likely a manufacturing error. Another error, “LG” beside XL is a typo. It should be “TG” for “Tres Grande.” Also compare the thickness of the fonts, thickness, and spacing. Take a look at the spacing between XL and LG.

Authentic Vintage Wild Oats T-Shirt Tag

Authentic Wild Oats T-Shirt Tag

There are several versions of Wild Oats tags, take a look at our historical tag guide as well as our archive of them.

Fake Brockum World Wide T-Shirt Tag

Fake Brockum World Wide T-Shirt Tag

Not hard to spot the differences here. The Brockum font looks stretched, it’s too tall.

It looks like “WORLD WIDE” with a space rather than “WORLDWIDE.”

The font below the bar is obviously not correct.

Authentic Brockum Worldwide T-Shirt Tag

authentic vintage brockum worldwide t-shirt tag

Follow this link for more examples of genuine Brockum Worldwide tags.

Fake The Brockum Group T-Shirt Tag

They made a decent stab at this one. The sheen on the tag fabric is on point. But the interwoven pattern on the font in the above example has too much space and is not as tight-knit. It’s especially obvious if you compare the Ks.

Compare the differences between the R’s in “GROUP” and the text below it isn’t a great match. The true version’s text looks to be in a bolded font.

Authentic Vintage The Brockum Group T-Shirt Tag

authentic vintage the brockum group t-shirt tag

Follow this link for more examples of genuine The Brockum Group tags. You can also get a complete history and timeline of Brockum tags.

Fake GEM T-Shirt Tag

fake gem great entertainment merchandise t-shirt tag

This one also suffers from the same issue the Wild Oats tag does – the branding ends up under the hem – the top border isn’t visible. But I’ve seen the odd legit tag with this issue. Overall, this one is pretty decent, you could argue the blue color is too day glow. The swirl on the G is too thick. The font below isn’t a great match. But the fatal mistake they made was to fill in the missing blue border on the bottom of the globe.

On the true one below you’ll see the border on the bottom right is broken, there’s a gap on the true version.

Authentic Vintage GEM T-Shirt Tag

authentic vintage gem t-shirt tag

Follow this link for more examples of genuine GEM tags.

Fake Liquid Blue T-Shirt Tag

This one is pretty good. Though, their color selection is off – made obvious by the fact that the pattern formed inside each swirl isn’t as visible. Also, it looks as though each swirl on the fake one has a distinguishable border around it. Zoom in on the blue swirl.

The Liquid Blue font is pretty decent, but you can still see some differences, especially the thread count.

Authentic Vintage Liquid Blue T-Shirt Tag

Authentic Vintage Liquid Blue T-Shirt

Follow this link for more examples of genuine Liquid Blue tags.

Fake Screen Stars by Fruit of the Loom T-Shirt Tag

Fake Screen Stars by Fruit of the Loom value weight T-Shirt tag

Lots of small differences here. The blue is slightly too dark, though I have noticed some inconsistencies in this regard between genuine tags. The box around Screen Stars is more of a square than a rectangle. Subtle differences in the SS logo. The font for “by” is incorrect. “Value Weight T” is spaced incorrectly.

Authentic Vintage Screen Stars By Fruit of the Loom T-Shirt Tag

Authentic vintage Screen Stars by Fruit of the Loom value weight T-Shirt tag

Follow this link for more examples of genuine Screen Stars by Fruit of the Loom tags.

Fake Vintage Tultex Tag

This is another fake tag that’s convincing when not directly compared side to side. The spacing between the TULTEX letters is the main giveaway. TULTEX should be more cramped and this is very across the various tags I examined. The bottom of the X should touch the bottom of the E, or come VERY close. When you compare two versions that are deadstock, you’ll also notice the counterfeit one has a lighter black, and “COTTON” doesn’t pop as much.

Authentic Vintage Tultex T-Shirt Tags

authentic vintage tultex t-shirt tag

By the way, it’s completely normal for the legit versions of this tag to have some interesting transformations to the “COTTON” black bar after some wear and washes.

authentic vintage tultex t-shirt tag washed
authentic vintage tultex t-shirt tag worn

Follow this link for more examples of genuine Tultex tags.

Fake 3D Emblem T-Shirt Tag

Fake 3D emblem T-Shirt Tag

The material and edges of the tag are convincing. But the 3D effect is lost in the fake version. The font for the size is too thick. The 3 and D don’t match. The “Emblem” font is wrong. This fake tag also features the design being partially buried under the flap. Other than everything, it’s perfect!

Authentic 3D Emblem T-Shirt Tag

genuine 3d emblem t-shirt tag

Follow this link for more examples of genuine 3D Emblem tags.

Fake Bay Club T-Shirt Tag

Fake Bay Club Tag

When there are fakes being made of bootleg t-shirts, and the brands most commonly associated with bootlegs, you know the vintage t-shirt market is hot. There’s more than one flub, when you examine these Bay Club tags. They didn’t exactly nail the unique logo very well, and it’s missing half of the information on a real one. The real ones fade like crazy after a handful of washes, and also fray along the edges.

Authentic Bay Club T-Shirt Tags

genuine bay club t-shirt tag

Genuine, worn bay club t-shirt tag

Fake Resurreccion T-Shirt Tag

Fake Resurreccion Tag

@Tees_4_fears has graciously donated his analysis for this guide. Lots of discrepancies here, but it’s such a busy tag that the multiple issues might fly under the radar. The R and the detail within the heart are always the biggest red flags.

Real Resurreccion T-Shirt Tag

Real Resurreccion t-shirt tag

To be continued…In the meantime, if you’ve spotted a fake tag out in the wild, please get in touch with us.

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