Talk about anything here.
Post Reply
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:41 pm

State of the hobby?

Post by stage1dave »

I've been wondering about this for the last few weeks, btw; a couple things made me focus on it.

Firstly, a customer (from my day job) asked if I had any "smaller" band t's from Metallica, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, etc; for his 13 yr old niece. (I did, but cautioned him that two of them were licensed repros, not original) Once I dropped off a care package of about a half dozen shirts, he casually remarked that it was much appreciated, because these bands were just huge with the kids these days :cry:

Secondly, any collector/retailer has noticed the large amount of "licensed" reprints from all the major bands of their most popular tour shirts. (not to mention the ummm, "unlicensed" rips of same from offshore)

So I got thinking about the stages a couple of my other hobbies have been thru, and where there went...or "are"

Anyway, some boring background...I've been playing with/restoring/modifying/racing cars (mostly 60's and 70's muscle) for 40yrs, and looking back on on my experiences, I don't think this hobby had much of an "acceptable" public profile until the late 80's/early 90's. There was always a hardcore hotrod/custom/drag racing contingent, but past the magazine racks, car shows, sanctioned drag races (or unsanctioned!) it was viewed as kind of an "outlaw" sport or activity, by polite society. It wasnt until the values of some of these vehicles escalated wildly that a discernable image of the car hobby in general started to appear. TV in the 2Ks didnt hurt either. (Incidentally,I'm aided in these observations by having made the bulk of my income since the early 80s doing custom paint & hi end vehicle graphics, whether with a brush or airbrush; and a variety of hand lettering and pinstriping, so I've never been too far from it)

Also, I got into collecting some old CFL and hockey cards in the early 90s during the first "boom" in this hobby in 1991. Despite the incredible array of sets and manufacturers, it was still viewed as "cardboard" by the general public. Not until the Gretzky/McNall "Honus Wagner" card purchase and some key hi dollar sales (minty Bobby Orr RC's, 54 Topps Gordie Howe, etc) and scarce insert cards in the later 90s did the hobby gain some "legitimacy". The explosion of the third party "graded" cards in the early 2Ks also gave the hobby a pedigree. (PSA, SGC, Beckett, KSA, etc)

(Btw, if I'd known how much money it was gonna cost to buy back my childhood, I woulda hung on to some of that old OPC stuff :D haha) Especially the checklists...

Of the two, the card hobby is a more accurate barometer. Like cards, t's are relatively easy to store and don't require an expensive infrastructure as the car hobby does. Garages & storage facilities, expensive toolkits, plus a goodly amount of knowledge/skill and frequent physical contortion. :lol:

In short, I think we're currently about "1998" with the vintage shirt hobby. I've always kept a lot of my old ts around, and the public perception has progressed lately from "packrat" to "hey, that's cool". I've noticed the scarcer t's in hi demand (IM tour stuff, city specific; JP; early Metallica; Nirvana; Punk stuff; etc) has gotten so expensive the market is confined to fairly serious collectors and/or retailers; my customers' 13 yr old niece isn't going to shell out $250.00 for an original Nirvana "smiley face" tour t with clean Giant tags (nor will her parents!) but the licensed repros can fill this market.

Some concluding thoughts:

1) I don't think the repros will hurt the collector market for originals over the long term. People looking for original vintage t's will continue to spend their money; the repros will keep up the visibility of the bands and tours for the next generation.

2) As the hobby acquires more legitimacy thru (hopefully) more participation and more consistently defined values, certain tags and watermarks (or copyright marks) will undoubtedly become more sought-after than others. A few hi dollar sales in a publicly accessible forum, (Barrett-Jackson, anyone?) articles online or in print, etc; or the odd celebrity gettin in on the act won't hurt either. (anyone else remember Reggie Jackson's publicizing the car hobby, or Jay Leno?) It's hard to overestimate the impact stuff like this has on the public perception of a "hobby".

Pardon the long post, I wanted to articulate these ideas in a clear manner, as well as my thought process. I'd be interested in the ideas other enthusiasts have about where this hobby is, and is headed; as well as some opinions on what specific impact the licensed repros will have short and long term. Flame away 8-) haha

And thanx to JimmyJ for giving us all a forum to engage in our collective addiction!

Site Admin
Posts: 3046
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:26 pm

Re: State of the hobby?

Post by jimmyj »

Love this post and the thought that went into it.

As a kid in the 80s I collected comics. I enjoyed reading them but I'd always assumed they would be worth money in the future. I remember thinking, "I can't wait until I'm older, this will be worth something!" I stored them away in proper bags. I moved them around with me from place to place - and I moved A LOT. In the mid-90s when I was 18 or 19 I believe - I had moved out on my own while in my final year of high school. I was really broke. To the point that I wasn't eating properly. Every so often I would think about that box of comics in the closet - and I refused to sell them, despite that fact that it would have fed me properly. I always assumed their value would continue to grow.

They did for a few years. I should have sold them around 1998/1999 - during eBay's initial boom. Because after that - multiple copies of any comic you wanted could have be found with a few clicks. Whereas in the 80s and early 90s - this wasn't possible - you had to go to conventions - try to track down a copy at a comic shop or subscribe to a comic catalogue.

Soon after the industry corrected itself a little bit by putting a much bigger emphasis on condition. Since access to inventory was at an all time high - and the market was basically flooded - now a third party high grading of the comic helped make copies more sought after. There are x amount of copies of X-Men #1 online - but only 1 of them graded a 9.8 out of 10. But it also kind of takes the fun out of the comic - as like sports cards - they get incased in plastic - which means you break the grade if you open the case to read the comic.

I've already seen t-shirts go through that phase. In the early 2000s there was a high demand and not too much inventory. You could fetch $40 for a standard ringer tee. Now it seems like everyone and their sister are aware of the value of tees - and they are on everyone's radar. eBay, Etsy, are completely flooded with tees.

So since we're comparing tees to comics - 30s to 50s is the golden age of comics.

What's the golden age of t-shirts? 60s there weren't too many prints. So it will probably be 70s to 90s. It seems as though once the value is realized and it officially gets established as a collectible - the ones that follow don't qualify for the era.

So 2000+ era tees will be the silver age?
Jimmy J

(Please note: Legit checks I do in this forum should not be considered 100% conclusive; I'm simply giving a gut reaction based on the limited information provided.)

Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:41 pm

Re: State of the hobby?

Post by stage1dave »

I'd forgotten about the comic book thingie :o mind you, I was mostly into the western stuff; Rawhide Kid, and some war comics...Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos...not sure if that stuff would be worth anything these days or not! Money all seems to be in the "superhero" genre, something I just couldn't get into.

(still think the only reason I got into Batman as a kid was because it was on right before Star Trek :lol: haha)

I definitely sympathize with the hanging on to stuff even tho' you're not eating properly thingie too; I can remember building a couple cars that used to restrict my diet to about 3 squares a week :roll: Once I was putting the engine together for an old Buick GSX and bent over to grab a wrench I dropped, straightened up, and almost passed out! I then remembered I hadn't eaten for a couple days...just Timmies and smokes :? Packed it in for the day, went home, re-prioritized, and took a couple days off.

TG those days are over...hobbies are great, long as they're not destroying your quality of life!

These days, guess I'm more concerned with balance...I run into shirts on a daily basis I "need" in my collection, but can't justify the fundage going out. (I'm married, btw; so can't be pickin' up vintage Maiden stuff-even on deal-if it shorts the grocery budget)

I'm continually amazed at the stuff I threw away as a kid that would probably make a nice down payment on a house today...Orr rookie cards (bicycle spokes) six pack and hemi mopars (sold for a few thousand bux) BCE stock (before it split twice; or was it three times?) Guess we all have those stories. However, can't leave this subject alone without mentioning a couple things that continually come up on a couple investment forums/blogs I visit.

The stuff that continually escalates in value follows a pretty simple set of rules IMHO: 1)they didn't make too much of it (rarity) or everyone threw it away; (kid stuff) And 2)it reminds a generation of a happier simpler time (nostalgia) symbolizing a certain time frame. As a further rule of thumb, you can bank on a 20 yr (a generation) cycle for these "nostalgic" values to kick in, and about a 5-10 year "selling" cycle. After that, it will be the "serious" collectors/enthusiasts who stick around regardless of values.

People in a midlife crisis are ALWAYS trying to buy back their childhood! It's hard to overestimate the effect this has on values...

So yeah, the "2000s" might be the silver age :D We just have to figure out what millennials will be getting nostalgic about in a decade or so :idea:

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post