Fake Vintage vs Real Vintage Clothing (From PRO Clothing Seller)

Are you trying to learn about vintage clothing & want to know about single stitch items? Maybe you are new to thrift shopping and you want to know how to find vintage clothes. I’m gonna help break down some mysteries when it comes to vintage clothing!

Today we show you two examples of clothing that is single stitch, one being old & the other modern.

Companies now know that “vintage” is cool. It’s not a fad, people just like old stuff. We will see more of this “fake vintage” on the market in years to come as fast fashion brands try to be cool.

Fast fashion is garbage and you should stop supporting these companies. Buy vintage!

Great way to tell if something is vintage… look at the tag. If it is thick, large, says made in the USA, says 50% cotton 50% polyester. Those don’t always mean vintage, but they are a good start!

Use common sense. Use your hands & nose to touch/smell everything!

Vintage clothing has a feel & smell to it. A graphic from the ’90s feels much different than one from the late 2000s.

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So let’s talk about the difference between modern vintage & actual vintage clothing!

We are gonna use four examples here…

  1. Todd Snyder long sleeve shirt (2017 manufacture)

      2. Todd Snyder x Champion t-shirt (2013 manufacture)

      3. ’90s Gravedigger long sleeve shirt (real vintage)

      4. 1997 Denver Broncos t-shirt

All four of these items are single stitch & look “old”, but how do we really tell the difference between fake modern vintage clothing & the real stuff?

This is when it starts to get fun!


This is probably one of the best ways to identify a piece of vintage clothing besides the date being written on it.

Companies come out with certain lines of clothing during certain years. What I mean by this… Hanes had a few major tags throughout the ’70s-’90s, it makes it easy to somewhat guess what year a t-shirt is from.

Now, this isn’t an exact science because tags can cross over decades, something that was started in the ’80s could still have the same style tag in the ’90s.

That is great when it comes to actually date vintage clothing, but what if you want to just tell if something is modern or old quickly?

Looking at this example above, though the tag looks faded on this Todd Snyder long sleeve, it still looks digital printed when you see it in person. What I mean is that it looks too clean & perfect, doesn’t actually look old.

If a garment has a screen-printed tag like this, typically it will be modern. Old clothing almost always used tags instead of methods like this. Sure, on some military clothing you will see raw screen printing like this, but more often than not you will not see this on clothing.

Now, let’s compare it to the tag on the vintage Gravedigger long sleeve…

Do you see how different this looks than the Todd Snyder one? This thing is thick, bold & just looks old. Not saying that all clothes with these tags are older, but usually, they are.

Plenty of companies still use tags like this to this day, so how can we look for some small details to help us?

Keep it simple! Look for dates on either the main tag or the side seam tag (if it has one). Dates are great, but also see if there is a website anywhere on the tag. Website = Modern.

In the example above, the Todd Snyder long sleeve clearly tells us when it was manufactured in 2017! That took two seconds to find, so don’t just avoid the simple things!

This is when things get tricky though… Let’s take a look at the tag from the other Todd Snyder t-shirt and compare it.

To me, that’s a pretty old looking tag… Problem is, again it looks TOO good. It looks like a designer went on their computer and literally typed “vintage clothing tag” into Google.

That’s the easiest way to spot vintage. If it’s trying too hard, it’s usually modern.

Tags like this nowadays are digitally printed with robust machines, do you realize how much time this would take to screenprint individual tags like this if this item was actually vintage?
It wouldn’t be worth the effort to have such a cool looking tag back in the day.

Also on that tag, notice the red accent stitching? Another thing that a company back in the day probably wouldn’t do on a basic t-shirt. Remember, Todd Snyder is a luxury brand charging $50-$80 for a t-shirt, they have the time to add these small details.

Now going back to something that is actually dated 1997 & is single stitch…

On the Denver Broncos shirt, we have this Hanes Heavyweight tag. Again, Hanes made a bunch of different lines of t-shirts but generally speaking it is easy to tell when they are from.

Now going to the other tag on this shirt, we can see it says made in USA.

A t-shirt being made in USA doesn’t mean its vintage, but it is a good sign to take a closer look. Companies still produce clothes in the US, but most transitioned at some point in their history to overseas production.

But again, to prove that it doesn’t mean that the item is vintage…

The Todd Snyder long sleeve says Made in the USA as well… 

Do you feel like this got you nowhere? Good! You should! This takes YEARS of first-hand knowledge. You need to touch & feel these items to really understand what I’m talking about. Simply saying that single stitch or made in the USA means vintage is not correct.

This next part will hopefully clear up a few more things & maybe drive my point home about touch and feel. Clothing is one of those things that you can teach someone, but it all comes down to muscle memory. You need to remember what wool feels & smells like. You need to know what old t-shirts look like when you put them up to the light.


When it comes to vintage clothing, mainly t-shirts, using the fabric is a great way to judge if something is old or new.

Often when people talk about old t-shirts, you will hear the term 50/50... what the heck does that mean?

When it comes to vintage clothing, the term 50/50 means 50% cotton & 50% polyester. It’s simply the blend of the fabrics that make up that piece of clothing.

This is an older Screen Stars tag on this 1990’s Nebraska Cornhuskers Fiesta Bowl t-shirt. On the tag you can see what 50/50 looks like in real life!

You will see this with t-shirts & crewneck sweaters mostly. Pants have poly-cotton blends, but typically not listed as 50/50.

This is typically a good sign that an item MAY be older.If you don’t see it on the front of the main tag, flip it over or check for a side seam tag.

Another great hack to tell if something is old… hold it up to the light! Older shirts that have been washed & seen life will be “thinner”. It’s crazy holding up a shirt from the ’80s to a light source & comparing it to something more modern.

The old shirt will almost be see-through, it’s wild if you’ve never seen it. Now, this happens with shirts from the ’90s, but more often if you are seeing this, the shirt will be older.

Touch & Feel

The example above is actually great because it drives home the fact that sometimes you should keep it simple! Clearly, we see that this t-shirt is from/around 1997, but also shows the texture in the graphic next to it.

That’s what we’re looking for in old shirts, texture & a story. Even if the item is deadstock, an old t-shirt looks & feels a certain way.

I need to be able to feel something when I pick up an old piece of clothing. Even just typing this out sounds weird in my head, but it’s so true. I’m gonna keep repeating myself in saying that this is something you just need to touch to understand.

To this day you can find badly screen printed t-shirts with a raised texture, so this still is a muddled way to identify old clothing. What it is though is just one more tool to get closer to dating an item!

Alright so I said a bunch of stuff, 1181 words to be exact… Did we learn how to identify vintage clothing? Kinda…

What it comes down to is a simple math problem & your gut.

Do you see the signs that the item is old? Or is there just ONE thing that is making it seem modern. If there is that one thing, usually it is modern.

This is a complicated world and only getting more and more confusing as companies sell more fake vintage crap. Don’t support this nonsense. It is garbage. Buy vintage & save the environment!!

In conclusion

This is only a quick glimpse into this confusing world. We will cover more vintage stuff later on, but at least this is a start!

If this was helpful at all, please share it!

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