If you can’t own Bono, at least you can own his shirt

By Hannah Hoffman

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A peek into one student's collection of band t-shirts. Photo by Hannah Hoffman.

They’re collected, torn, discarded and treasured. Whether they’re for Taylor Swift or Led Zeppelin, band T-shirts won’t ever go out of style.

Nestled in my closet, next to more refined, less-used clothes, are 21 shirts that I’ve collected for over three years. For any music aficionado, a band shirt is a statement of pride and conviction. But for collectors, they’re a form of art.

Many devoted fans wear shirts for comfort, to show support or for their artistic value. Some students wear T-shirts for bands they don’t even like, simply because they like the designs. Others wear them because of the memories from concerts.

On a trip to New York City, I came face-to-face with the phenomenon.

In an upscale Soho boutique, in the same room as Versace, Chanel and Hermes, were five vintage band T-shirts. From more obscure bands like New Riders of the Purple Sage and Commander Cody to Neil Young and Led Zeppelin, these “gems” were hidden and isolated from the more glamorous apparel.

On the downside, the prices reflected their street cred. A 1978 Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK Tour shirt cost $1,200 while the “inexpensive” shirts were around $700.

Thanks to prices like these, our generation knows the importance of saving items: ticket stubs, programs or even bands t-shirts. But for our parent’s generation, this habit was relatively unheard of.

The other day, after a year of good use, I retired my Jethro Tull 40th anniversary shirt to save the disintegrating design. After I washed it one last time, I laid it to rest chest filled with similar collectibles.  It’s true; band T-shirts will never go out of style and memories never go out of fashion.

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