Vintage grateful Dead Bootleg Jersey
Maker - Unknown, printed on Mc Graw jersey
Era - 70s/80s
Acquired - by Douglas Luhanko in 2009
In these days we live in a time when people speculate in authenticity what we consider being "real" or "fake". In the last years, dressing in obviously fake brand logos has become a trend in a way that I think no-one of us expected! Why does a person decide to put on a fake Gucci t-shirt as a statement? Maybe it's an answer to the obsession of branding that we have been used to in the last decades of consuming clothing.
Today it can be considered more stylish to dress in a fake Gucci t-shirt than wearing the original and fake t-shirts of the right style even fetch a high price on the vintage market! It's interesting to speculate in the reason for this movement and what will be next but I think the most interesting aspect is to think about the values we put in a brand and the statement that obviously can be made by prouldy wearing a fake brand t-shirt. So what’s considered real or authentic has obviously come to be questioned and I think that goes further than a poorly produced Gucci tee today.
This week's subject is this Grateful dead bootleg T-shirt, so let’s get back to the dawn of bootleg t-shirts! In California back in 1965, a band from Palo Alto (close to San Francisco) named the Grateful Dead came to play a leading part in the music scene and they came to be synonymous with the psychedelic scene of the 60/70s. The band remained in popularity up until 1995 when they stopped playing due to the death of lead member Jerry Garcia. Between '65 and '95 Grateful Dead never had a major success with any album or a single as other bands of the era did, but they found their success in the underground scene and the reputation they earned as a touring band and the life they lived when they were on the road.
The band built up a dedicated fan base that came to be called ”Deadheads”, and many of them built a lifestyle out of following Grateful dead on their tours. These people lived with the band on the tour and the parking lots with the surrounding area where the band were to play came to be called ”Shakedown Street”, named after a Greatful dead song with the same name, and served as a home base for the community. The fans also started trading and dealing with a lot of mercantile and bootleg versions along with DIY t-shirts was commonly sold. Today it’s actually interesting to see the bootleg version made by the dedicated fans and it’s said to be common that one will see a bootleg shirt thats actually better made and designed then the official tour merch sold inside the venue.
The back of the shirt has no print and you can see that the left shoulder has some small holes after years of use.
The print of this shirt is most likely made using transfer printing, where the motif has been printed and then transferred by heat onto the front of a Mc Graw jersey. I'm not sure of the age of the shirt and it's possible that the print has been applied later on, but I would estimate the shirt to have been made in the 70/80s.
The motif of the print is common on Grateful Dead merchandise and the skeleton, called "Bertha", can bee seen in a lot of different designs, for example she is often surfing or skateboarding. Here Bertha is covered in roses, perhaps one of the most recognized scenes.
As you can see on the picture the G in Grateful was cut in the middle, most likely to make the print fit on the shirt or maybe this is a sign that tells us that this Jersey was made in a hurry, with a low level of attention to the details.
I got this shirt at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, California back in 2009 and I have to admit that I never considered myself a Deadhead even if I enjoy listening to there music from time to time. I think what caught my attention back in 2009 and what still makes me enjoy the band is the artwork that's synonymous with Grateful Dead that describes the 60/70s in a absolutely great way.
I also seems that the aesthetics of these t-shirts is growing in popularity, maybe due to the fact that the artist Wes Lang made a collaboration with the band where he expresses his long time love for them and the design that comes with them. The artist John Mayer has also been touring with the Dead & Company and has been seen wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt, so it's possible that we will see more prints of roses covering Bertha in the future. Or lets see what Bertha might be up to in the 20th century in a time of fake Gucci t-shirts and the hype of the DHL t-shirt! We sure have an interesting time ahead of us and.
I wrote this text heavily influenced by an article that I found at the Hypebeast and I can recommend to read that if you want to get more information on the subject.
Last week we wrote about the Fire-King Jade-ite cups we got in New York a couple of week ago if you want to read more about them you will find that post Here!