Vintage or Not?

First, do any of my readers read Chinese, and can you translate the characters for me?   I do suspect they say “Sino American Friendship.”

I found this tee shirt at the Goodwill Center last week.  At first I thought this was one of those “vintage” tees from Old Navy or Urban Outfitters or A&F.   But a closer look make me think that this just might be the real thing, an authentic vintage tee shirt.

There are no labels, and no evidence that there ever was one.  More interestingly was this, printed on the inside hem:

There are other clues that this is older.  The construction is just not like anything you would find in a mass market garment today.  This tee shirt has no shoulder seams; it is folded at the shoulders.  Also, the side seams and arm seams are serged, but with an older style overcast, the type seen in 1950s garments.  And look at the sewn-on neckband.

Modern “vintage style” tees are distressed to give them an old look.  They use cheap, very thin fabric to mimic the effects of years of washing.  The aging on this tee is real, right down to the tiny hole or two, and the slight yellowing of the white fabric.

So I’m 99% sure this tee is vintage.  Why not 100%?  Because there is an outside chance that this was produced for a Chinatown emporium such as Pearl River.   They have been known to have wonderful random items, made using old equipment, and unintentionally look “old.”

So, does anyone know for sure.  Don’t think it will hurt my feelings to find out this was made 5 years ago and you bought one in Chinatown in Montreal.  Old or not, I love it.

A bit more info, Harbin is a city in northeast China.  It’s not an old city, but developed along an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway in the late 1800s.  For much of its history, there have been many more Europeans than Chinese living there.  Today it has a population of almost 10 million people!


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

6 responses to “Vintage or Not?

  1. it could be old, but i think more likely it’s a modern import–i occasionally find asian-made t-shirts that still use old methods/shapes, usually made for the asian market specifically.

    i have a few of them, some i bought new at 99c stores.


  2. Is the breaking of friendship into two words a sign it was laid out by someone whose command of English was not assured? Sino-American is also an older usage. I think now it would be Chinese-American.But those could also be deliberate choices to ‘age’ it.


  3. Helen

    It says Zhong (Zhong guo is China) Mei (Mei guo is America) You (pengyou is friendship) hao (meaning good). You’re right, it just says Sino-American Friendship basically.


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