This post is a somewhat personal one for me. Beyond the fact that the most constant pieces of clothing in my closet are band tees, there’s a deeper connection. Each has its own special story: a childhood memory of listening to the album on vinyl, a tangible reminder of a live performance that changed my life, or an artist that inspires my own artistic style. However, do you know the true story behind the band tee, and where it all began? It wasn’t always co-opted by fashion. Let’s go back to 1968 for a hot second.
The Band Tee: Where It Began
Band tees were initially a tangible merchandising initiative that was created as a way to promote musicians at their shows. Concert promoter/producer Bill Graham was among the first to promote this form of wearable art in 1968 with the start of the manufacturing company Winterland Productions for artists like the Grateful Dead, Ramones, and many others in that decade. These tees rapidly became a form of self-expression and artist loyalty; its worn appearance gave it’s owner the pride of being a longtime fan. It also was the first time art was printed on shirts, where people could identify with the movement it represented. We see that now with the likes of Virgil Abloh, Off-White founder and creative director of Kanye’s fashion line who gives images a new life much like Warhol did for pop-art. It’s crazy to know that band tees were the original pilot light!
Unofficial: How It Relates
Music, like fashion, is art we live our lives in. It motivates us, inspires us, and helps us express our most true selves, and is the cornerstone of this blog. My wardrobe has always been a lens into the artists that have shaped me in some way, and what inspired me to bring it to life cinematically. My first loves in music were early punk and grunge rock, and Chris Cornell more specifically. Soundgarden was more than just music, it was an artistic experience. Their album art blossomed to life at shows alongside the music itself; it was magical. This particular tee I’m wearing is my most prized possession, and why I chose it for this editorial. I will never forget seeing him perform live in 2014 alongside Nine Inch Nails for one of the last shows he’d ever perform. This tee is my time machine to that exact day.
I could think of no better accessory to pair this look with than these musician inspired sunglasses by fellow creative Tezza. These sunglasses are inspired by Stevie Nicks, an artist that speaks to her in the same way Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails speak to me. There’s something magical about choosing an outfit that sparks creativity within ourselves, and I love that about her own work. It’s less about what’s trending, and more about how our clothing, music, and the world around us influences our life. My fellow music and art lovers, I urge you to take a stroll through her site and Instagram, it’s an incredibly beautiful expression of creativity.
My Favorite Vintage Band Tees
Let’s be totally serious: the best part about band tees is the vintage feel. I’m lucky enough to have a few holy grail ones passed down to me from my dad, but most authentic ones can cost an arm and a leg online nowadays. The below picks range from expensive authentic ones that are worth the price tag (for my fellow music die-hards) and ones that are just as stylish without the heavy price tag. Did you also know my fam over at Carbon38 started carrying authentic vintage band and graphic tees? Take 20% off your first order with MGRAGG50 with a few of the links below!
My Band Tee Favorites From Amazon
Amazon has been my go-to lately for picking up tons of band tees at a great price, ranging from $8-25ish. Also, who hates 2-day Prime shipping? Not a damn soul. These tees linked below make a great statement piece under blazers, with your favorite summer statement skirts, you name it. Want more selection? Head to my Band Tee folder directly on Amazon for the full list.