This lucky shopper bought a vintage Nirvana t-shirt for 125 pesos, and it so happens to have a resale value of up to 130,000 pesos.
BLESSED BY THE THRIFT GODS
It was a frisky dawn in December, just as the sun began to rise, many people scrambled outside Shela’s Ukay-Ukay store in Dumaguete City, waiting for it to open. The crowd of eager shoppers waited in anticipation as the local thrift store was scheduled to release new batches of their pre-loved apparel that morning. As the door finally swung open, the crowd surged forward, and the bazaar was filled in seconds.
Like many other emptors, everyone knew the store was a treasure trove of unique and stylish finds. Fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters scrupulously sifted through the racks of second-hand clothes, hoping to uncover a hidden gem. Their excitement was palpable; it was a race against time as the most coveted items would surely be snatched up quickly.
Amidst the ruckus, many immediately managed to snag on some remarkable pieces. There were 90’s NBA Jump Ball Club jackets, Diesel and Carhartt pants, Stussy shirts, and other streetwear essentials from various popular brands. But Lawrence Garcia, a student from the university town, made an incomparable find. Amongst the trestle of thrifted clothes, he stumbled upon a 1993 Nirvana Seahorse T-shirt. Little did he know that this seemingly ordinary old shirt, purchased for a mere 125 pesos, has the potential to be resold for an astonishing price of up to 130,000 pesos.
THE THRILL OF THE FIND
For Garcia, stumbling upon this rare gem at a thrift store was a stroke of luck. The thrill of discovering a valuable piece of memorabilia for a fraction of its potential resale price is an experience that collectors and vintage enthusiasts can relate to. Garcia’s keen eye and fascination for rummaging ukay-ukay have rewarded him with a unique and potentially lucrative find.
As Garcia contemplated the possibility of reselling the shirt for a substantial profit, he took to the Facebook group, Vintage Shirts Community, in the hopes of verifying the authenticity of his find.
Original vintage band t-shirts are booming and cost outrageous resell prices due to a burgeoning market driven by nostalgia and a new generation of celebrities as well as fashion fans paying homage to one-of-a-kind pieces to create a distinctive personal style.
In 2023, Saint Laurent Rive Droite was offering what may be the priciest second-hand Nirvana T-shirts in the world as part of their “The Vintage” release valued at a whopping 245,000 pesos.
WHY THE PRICE?
According to Highsnobiety, the vintage Nirvana Seahorse T-shirt holds a special place in the band’s history, as it reflects Kurt Cobain’s fascination with seahorses. To the untrained eye, the T-shirt may not immediately appear to be associated with the band. Nonetheless, the subtle “yeah, this was a Nirvana shirt…” graphic printed on the back near the hem confirms it’s the real deal. Interestingly, this was not the first time Nirvana incorporated seahorses into their T-shirt designs. The 1992 “Come As You Are” tee also featured a seahorse graphic. Cobain often incorporated drawings of these creatures in his Journal-turned-book, emphasizing their unique reproductive process, where the male seahorse gives birth.
On the back of the T-shirt is a poem inspired by Cobain. The poem eloquently describes the reproductive process of seahorses, their unique courtship, internal fertilization, and the male’s role in parturition.
“Ever the trendsetter, the seahorse is the sole, animal known to man in which the male of the species endures the privilege of childbirth. Following a lengthy courtship, a male and female have intercourse during which the female enters the male and lays as many as 200 eggs which are then fertilized within the body of the male. After a 5-week gestation period, the male gives birth.”
THE COMPLICATED REALITY OF THE RESALE MARKET
As for what Lawrence did with the shirt, we reached out to him to ask about his plans for the T-shirt but has yet to reply as of this writing. Still, it’s yet another sign of how crazy vintage shopping can get.
With the resurgence of interest in vintage and retro fashion trends such as Y2K, Indie Sleaze, and the old money aesthetic amongst Gen Z, many people these days go to thrift stores to supplement their wardrobe with clothing from past decades. However, countless items sold in thrift stores marketed as “vintage” nowadays are actually low-value brands like Shein, Romwe, Forever 21, H&M, etc.
Evidently, consumers are becoming more conscious of the ethical implications of their purchasing choices. As awareness of environmental and social issues grows, there is a growing interest in sustainable fashion practices. Thrifting promotes the reuse of clothing, reducing the demand for new production and minimizing the environmental impact associated with the fashion industry. By extending the life cycle of clothing through pre-owned purchases, thrifting helps reduce the amount of clothing ending up in landfills.
It is a more ethical way to shop as it is believed to not contribute to the demand for fast fashion, which is often associated with poor labor conditions and exploitation. But, in a recent sustainability report by the Business of Fashion, they stated that “the reality is complicated,” as the resale market is futile to rein in the inundation of fast fashion. Regardless, let this be another reminder that one man’s trash could be your treasure. But always remember to have proper intentions when vintage shopping.
All photos published with permission of the owner.
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