How many band t-shirts do you have? Are you at least average?

Every music fan has a stack of band t-shirts. But how many? And how much is too much?

A company called RushOrderTees surveyed over 1,000 people about their music t-shirt collections. Here’s what they found:

  • The average fan owns 11 music-related t-shirts.
  • Metal fans are king. The average metalhead has at least 17.
  • 69% still own their oldest shirt. The average age of that shirt is a staggering 11 years.
  • The most popular shirts are AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Queen.
  • Punk fans spend the most. The average total value of a punk’s t-shirt collection is US$600.
  • The most vintage band shirts are bought on eBay followed by second-hand shops.
  • And this is my favourite statistic: Fans agree that you need to know at least TEN songs from the artist before you deign to wear one of their t-shirts. Got that, poseurs?

And I love these “rules.”

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

9 thoughts on “How many band t-shirts do you have? Are you at least average?

  • July 8, 2021 at 10:25 am
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    Wow, the average music fan has ONLY 11 band T-Shirts. I am well over 100 and my wife at about 50. I guess we are NOT the average music fan!!!!!

    Reply
  • July 8, 2021 at 10:32 am
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    Hm my oldest shirt is 25 years old. I almost never wear it though because the front says in giant letters NOT SLEEPING AROUND. It was the only ned’s shirt I could find back then ha.

    Most of my teenaged ones didn’t survive the closet mothpocalypse of 2015 though.

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  • July 8, 2021 at 10:39 am
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    I’m a t-shirt junkie! Last year I was able to take a pic of myself in a different t-shirt everyday from Jan 1 to Oct 31. October was Rocktober, so each one that month was a music related shirt. Plus there are band shirts smattered throughout the year. I’d say I have well over 50 in my rotation. Plus, a storage bin full of older ones that no longer fit or were just done.

    My pride and joy is a Radiohead shirt I got in Cleveland back in 97 or 98. A summer stop on the OK Computer tour. It was a patch (Don’t Cry Out or Hit The Alarm…) sewn onto a grey ringer. I’m pretty sure when I bought it, it was a Large. Every couple of years that patch migrates over to a brand new grey ringer. It’s currently sewn onto an XXL, but looks fantastic.

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    • July 8, 2021 at 1:44 pm
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      Hi Brad,

      I think if you have one (a blog or somewhere that’s (preferably) not social media, you should post a pic a day and show us your shirts. If you put in a little blurb like I saw this band at the in and it was brilliant because . Short and sweet.

      Ruins

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    • July 8, 2021 at 10:59 pm
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      Hmmm, I probably have 20 I regularly draw from and another 20 that either don’t fit or are so old I worry about wearing them. I’ve also worn many out unfortunately that either disintegrated or got thrown out. Oldest is my Nirvana Nevermind shirt I got in 1994 in grade 8.

      Reply
  • July 8, 2021 at 10:47 am
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    At one time, I had over 200. I think I’m down to about 150 now, and over half of those are boxed up since they’ve suffered the fate of getting smaller as I aged. 😉 I have a couple dozen in regular rotation, and the oldest one I have is a Van Halen shirt from 1979. There isn’t much left of it, since I cut the sleeves off decades ago, and then opened up the sides a bit, and it’s been washed so many times the material is almost translucent. I haven’t worn it in ages, and it doesn’t fit, but I keep it just because.

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    • July 8, 2021 at 1:57 pm
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      Hi Doug,

      I had an alterations person with whom we had (way too many) ongoing arguments about the merits of me asking her to repair repeatedly the same garments over and over again because they were my favorites. Some she outright refused to touch (like some of the t-shirts that were about the age of your oldest) but that was just her not wanting to work. She’d overcharge for some of the easiest work. It really wasn’t a good relationship between us but it was a devil you know situation for the longest time.

      Anyways, depending upon the shirt and I suppose to some degree the color, you should look up an alterations person (maybe Craigslist? Do you have that in Canada?

      Assuming you are from there?) and say, I love this t-shirt with my entire being and this is what I want EXACTLY. Write it all down on paper. The specifics of how you want it repaired – like attach this piece to this piece, leave this hanging, don’t touch this part,etc. Put down the specifics of what you do NOT want them to do. Suggest anything you can think of to complete any tasks. Like, if it’s a white t-shirt, maybe you get another white t-shirt that you can match up and put it underneath the bulk of the damaged bits as a base layer and sew the fragmented bits onto the base layer.

      Bring the base layer yourself or any other components that you prefer because it’s better that way than them making a choice and then they buy some crappy fabric and it itches and you have to have them redo it…and then you start hating your favorite shirt. We don’t want that.

      I reckon I have fixed one skirt that I bought on clearance for something about 20 bucks or under…I’ve probably spent about 200-300 hundred on it in the last 20 years. But I really like the skirt. I buy everyone I can find if I can find them online but it’s to the point where they are just about impossible to find.

      Save your shirts, fix them up just a touch so they aren’t disintegrating too much unless you want to stick it/them behind a frame and hang it/them on a wall. Then go show them off and hopefully you get people oohing and ahhing. It SUCKS wearing a cool shirt and not having anyone oohing and ahhing.

      Reply
  • July 8, 2021 at 1:30 pm
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    I think I’ve around the 200 hundred mark as well and add on another 30? for hoodies. This is *after* doing a massive purge of many of them – about two four feet tall piles when I first moved to where I lived. I don’t usually get rid of concert shirts. They fall into that category of special memories like concert tickets or playbills but for whatever reason, I felt I no longer needed those.

    I think they were from my (ahem) pop country phase (my mother loved old country (because she was old when I was growing up) so I’ve never liked but the occasional sentimental song from those days. I just fell into the pop country when my music died and that’s what the people I hung out with listened to. (Yes, I do feel the need to justify listening to it!)

    I couldn’t always afford concert shirts so unless I’m laid off, I will typically always buy a shirt nowadays or a hoodie. THey have to be godawful ugly for me not to get one at a show or buy one off the website. If it’s a new band (opener) and I the price is right, I will try and buy more if I like them or have any extra money. Gotta help the new bands! Make sure they survive their initial days so they can come back.

    In regards to the ‘average’ music fan, that would be those people who wouldn’t spend time on Alan’s music blog. People who don’t have (the horror) cd players in their car or a stereo at home and only listen to spotify and never buy music and maybe go to one or two shows a year…and probably arena shows at that. Celene Dion or something (sorry, Canadian folks – she just slipped of my tongue when I was checking to make sure I didn’t miss any concert announcements last night and I saw that she was touring – she is what she is.) .

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  • July 8, 2021 at 2:27 pm
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    I have a t-shirt from the CA World Music Festival, 1979. Never worn! Got it when I was pregnant, and figured it would fit afterwards. After 42 years, I know it will never fit. I’ve got at least 50 shirts.

    Reply

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