Worn Free's vintage tees made famous by rockers

 Uploads Product Page Image-Jr03---Joey-Ramone---Punk  Uploads Product Page Image-Jl09---John-Lennon---Yoko-Ono
In the discussion following Xeni's post about Yoko Ono yesterday, Shawn Wolfe referenced having just bought one of Worn Free's "Yoko Ono" t-shirts, just like John Lennon used to wear. I checked out Worn Free and they have a very cool business idea. They recreate obscure vintage t-shirts famously worn by rockers, like Lennon's "Working Class Hero" tee, Iggy Pop's "I Wiped Out The 60's" tee, Debbie Harry's "Punk" tee, Frank Zappa's "Rental" tee, Joey Ramone's "Capitol Theatre" tee, and a slew of others. My favorite is the "Yoko Ono" and Joey Ramone's "Punk Magazine" tee. Link


  1. I’ve wanted one of those “Home” John Lennon t-shirts for a while, but $40 is prohibitively expensive. I’d have to say that restaurant had one of the most badass logos ever!

  2. I saw some great shows as a lil’ whippersnapper at the Capitol Theatre (Ramones, Elvis Costello, Clash, Police) but $40 is a little more than I’d be willing to open that conversation by wearing one.

  3. Who in their right minds (and over the age of 16) would pay that much for a tee shirt?

    Apparently a lot of awesome and beautiful celebrities.

  4. I dunno, man. The concept is kinda cool, but doesn’t wearing reproductions of 30 and 40 year old avant garde shirts kinda make them… well, not avant garde anymore?
    And doesn’t it defeat the purpose to pay $40 for a haute couture “PUNK” t-shirt? Especially since punk has traditionally prided its self on breaking with the old, on pushing boundaries, and on do-it-yourself clothing?
    Nifty idea, but I’m not certain where bohemianism ends and capitalism begins in this little scheme.

  5. Is there some sort of copyright infringement going on here? Punk magazine and Creem magazine may no longer be around but they both have official websites which sell t-shirts.

  6. I also have the Creem Magazine “Boy Howdy” tee, the Zappa “Club B’wana Dik Nowhere but San Antonio” tee, the Joan Jett peacock tee, and the Capitol Theater tee. The shirt itself is a premium well-made tee, the printing is quality (i.e. not thick bulletproof rubber ink coverage like some tees) and considering that some high-fashion tees now retail at around $100, …..suddenly $40 doesn’t seem like so much to pay, especially for something that actually has a cool concept behind it and is not just some piece of meaningless poorly-made garbage from The Gap or Hollister (that also costs $40.)

    BTW – the Creem tee and other trademarked designs are licensed by Worn Free.

  7. In this day of print on demand this kind of thing seems to be the antithesis of what rock was about.

    I mean wasn’t it supposed to be about counter and sub culture? Not doing the trendy thing because “a lot of awesome and beautiful celebrities” are into it?

    freakin’ sad.

  8. if you are a real punk you can make your own t shirt for a lot less that $40.

    next thing you know they will charge you more to rip holes in it.

    cool site for ideas though, thanks!

    reminds me of a cartoon I drew years ago. two punks. dressed exactly alike. same leather jacket, same pierced ears. same ratty jeans and mc boots.

    “basically, i’m a non-conformist.”

    “yeah man, me too.”

  9. > How much is the appropriate amount to pay for a shirt these days according to Punk Rock Purity Police?

    Not forty bucks!

  10. It’s funny reading the comments. On the one hand people are outraged that these shirts cost $40 and on other I bet they buy such obviously branded merchandise for exorbitant prices without thinking – like $100-$150 pair of jeans (which actually cost about $7 to produce).

    The thing about these t-shirts is that they don’t proclaim in big letters a particular or common brand, rather its the quiet knowledge about their heritage (and they have some cool designs) that drives them forward.

    I was given a ‘Rental’ shirt mainly as joke but actually it’s good quality, well printed and came with a great sticker hang tag and a story.

    It’s clear to me someone went to a lot of effort sorting out the rights and story and probably cares a bit about the artist and their music – just read their blog and some of the stories in their store.

    I’d rather pay $40 and have something that isn’t common (unlike some people above believe) than $25-$55 for something that says “[Insert Brand Name Here]”. In actual fact some of the big brand t-shirts are just that.. stock t-shirt blanks with ‘Emporio Arxxxx’ or ‘Calvin Kl***’ printed on it. Big frickin deal, that says as much about someone’s discerning taste and style as I need to know.

    You could do a great story about the genius twist in recent marketing and on-demand production letting everyone believe that they’re being individual non-conformists when in fact they’re simply buying into a sub-brand of a much larger company that caters to their tastes plain and simple. With global fulfillment niche tastes can be catered for and in effect treated as mass market tastes in regards to volume and marketing.

    So if you buy anything in any kind of store with more than one outlet odds are you’re conforming. Get over it.

  11. Yo 26
    I don’t wear shirts with crap on them unless I bought them when I was in high school. I have a New Order “Procession” t shirt and one or two others.

    All tshirts with crap on them are common, $40 or not.

    I think you will find that there are some people out there who don’t try to create an identity for themselves out of any combination of emblems, logos or ‘designs’. It requires a strong sense of who you are. Being yourself. That’s what I call ‘cool’.

  12. Yeah, I know a number of well off people in their 30’s that still wear the trendy newly printed retro t-shirts. It’s unfortunate. There should be a warning such as on toys for children that says “For Ages 12 to 25” or something to that effect.

  13. @28 Lol I hear you. Still it beats wearing a shell suit or pink sweat pants with Juicy/Hot written on them.

    Trouble is you kinda got to be in your 30s to even remember some of those rockers let alone their significance.

    @26 I agree with you. Sadly I think that is a minority of people. The media in all it’s forms sees to that.

  14. Why are so many of you so hung up on the price? Is it because it’s a t-shirt? I don’t get it, Stuff like this tends to cost more because it’s not mass produced, as in you can’t get it at Wallfart. I guess you all enjoy paying for child labor and getting you crap for as cheap as possible, that’s too bad. I’d rather focus on how cool these t-shirts are, it’s a fun an original idea, that’s worth paying for too.

  15. Okay. This is off topic, but I have to make the comment. It’ll probably get flagged, but it’s worth an attempt:

    This is related to the item below on BoingBoing, the TV thing with the Dell sponsorship; it won’t let me comment… I guess because it’s a sponsor?

    Anyway, I interned at Dell this summer and their whole theme was self-empowerment- being your own boss. It was a TERRIBLE company. I guess it’s just an added bonus that they sponsored the movie.

  16. Your experience sounds a bit exaggerated YIKES128 even for DELL. Most companies don’t like iemployees that come to work high. Intern or not. besides at a company like Dell you are not gonna get an “office space” especially as an intern. Welcome to the real world. Did daddy send you a check when you quit YIKES128? Hope he did. Go back to school. You sound like a pissed of semi educated person. You should teach high school.

  17. *Pulls out the squeegees and emulsion*

    40 bucks for mostly single color designs on a simple $2 shirt. Even with minimal experience you could make most of these yourself.

  18. @35 yeah right. I guess you have more time than money that that you can spend it making your silk screen and tanks and a couple of tries to get it right. Not to mention time hunting down decent blanks as I think they’re called at a good price. Sounds like a great business model.

    You might just as well say the same thing about every item of clothing you buy anywhere…all you need is needle, thread, cloth and whole bunch of time, huh?

    At least these guys go to the trouble of finding the image, researching and licensing it properly (artist, photographer, original design) instead of just knocking it off and putting on cheap blanks as Drew would do. There’s probably a portion of the costs that go to those parties too.

    Give these guys a break, it’s a small company doing things properly with a great idea and good quality product.

    Why am I even defending them? Cos they’re small, original and NOT Walmart, Target, GAP, American Outfitters, Old Navy whatever with their random meaningless designs all made to look old and worn.

  19. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the whole “this isn’t Wal-Mart” argument as an explanation for why they might cost $40.

    Look at Threadless. Now THAT is a brilliant concept in t-shirt marketing, and they manage to sell their shirts for $15 (and even less during their frequent $10 sales).

  20. Fair enough… they’re $15 to $25 btw just like some of above companies are $30 to $40. I never said they’re $40 because they’re not walmart. I said I’m defending them because they’re not walmart. They’re bound to be more expensive anyways because I’m guessing there’s a bunch of licensors that need to get paid out from the shirts and bunch more work bringing the shirts to market.

    If price is what matters, thats cool. I don’t think Worn Free ever said on their site, the ‘cheapest t-shirts available’.

    Anyways I’m moving on.

    They’re not the cheapest t-shirts but I like em and the idea behind em. Just like I like Threadless and the idea behind that. They’re different products with different things behind their origination.

  21. I agree, Threadless is awesome but I’m not sure where their teeshirts come from, I would bet the tags say “made in China” and the quality of the shirts are not as nice. Worn Free tees are made in California so combine labor costs plus licensing fees for the graphics and the small company factor and it’s no mystery why you pay more for them.

    Worn Free peeps deserve to live off their teeshirt biz and I doubt they could if they sold their teeshirts for any less.

  22. basically they need you to buy this over priced crap so that they can get stores to purchase their next line of t-shirts that covers popular 80’s tv shows.

  23. Misssockmonkey:
    You actually have Threadless wrong: they make and print all their own shirts in house (in Chicago, IL). They used to use Fruit of the Loom and American Apparel, but now they print only on their own locally-produced brand. And they quality of their shirts are pretty darn good, I must say.

    So why does Worn Free “deserve” to live off their shirt business more than anyone else? Frankly, they just seem like a bunch of bourgeois-bohemian wankers to me, judging by the sheer amount of celebrity name-dropping on their blog.

    Basically, fuck anybody who needs to ride the coattails of past successful musicians if they can’t be creative in their own right. They capitalized on a good idea, but that doesn’t automatically earn respect in my view. Haight street is lined with stores dedicated to generating money from the independent spirit of a bygone era.

  24. A friend of mine designed clothes in the 1990s. She used only union-made clothes made in New York City by NYC residents as a local products kind of thing. Because of that the shirts started at $20 when cheap foreign shirts were $10.

    It is entirely possible that if you are buying American-made shirts, and I mean shirts really made in America and not Chinese shirts with fake labels then the only way to do that is to pay for them. $40 is too much for me, but it’s very possible that their costs are $35 per shirt if they play fair.

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