28 FEBRUARY, 2024
For over 10 years, a Japanese enthusiast named Hikki has been passionately collecting the rarest Nirvana tees and he is willing to give any money for something that is not yet in his collection. A few months ago he held an exhibition in Tokyo, where everyone could ask Hikki about the history of any tee.

We decided to do the same. Especially for GRADE, Hikki highlighted 10 interesting tees from his collection and talked about their value.
Hikki: The original owner of the t-shirt was recording shows at Chicago's Cabaret Metro at the time. He recorded Nirvana shows and received shirts directly from Kurt and Chris as compensation for his work. That happened on April 1, 1990. Although the price was high because of the particularly good condition and perfect size of this shirt, and most of all I was very interested in the authentic shirt that was received directly from Kurt and Chris, as a collector I knew that I needed to get it. That episode was eventually turned into an article and published in the famous French magazine Vanity Fair. The shirt is from the time before Dave Grohl joined Nirvana, and Chad Channing was still on the drums, capturing a precious picture of the trio: Kurt, Chris, and Chad printed on the front. This is the only official tee with Chad printed on it. The plus and minus signs on the back are Kurt's idea for a battery which represents positive and negative. This is one of the overall best shirts in the collection for sure.
The original owner first saw Nirvana performing at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor on October 3, 1989, as the opening band for the Flaming Lips. She became interested in the band after seeing blood appearing on Kurt's guitar as a result of that violent show and decided to purchase the shirt. In fact, Kurt had cut his hand the night before and was bleeding while playing that day. The shirt is one of the earliest versions of "vestibule" design and consecutively has high rarity value.
October 23, 1993 Chicago Aragon Ballroom gift shirt for InU Terror Tour crew members. If more than one show was sold out the promoter gave them to the crew as a special memento. The model agency's logo and that of the promoter are printed on the left and right shoulders. The true identity of the blue character on the back is unknown and I am always on the hunt for information on its true meaning and origin. The blue stuffed figure posted on my Instagram was personally created to share information with those in the know. This shirt was purchased from the member in charge of lighting for that exact show. Very rare!
This type of tees is called a "parking lot t-shirt" or just "parking lot" and it is one of the rarest t-shirts among them. Fake shirts were being sold by street vendors outside the concert venue at the time. The highlight of this particular one is the large double-sided print on a tie-dyed base; the blank here is Fruit of the Loom from early 90s. Fake shirts weren't popular at the time but the unique design of the parking lot finds, which cannot be found on official shirts, is grossly appreciated. There are very few such shirts in existence and vintage shirts in good condition like this one are extremely scarce.
The shirt's first owner received it from Kurt in 1991 at the JC Dobbs music venue on South Street in Philadelphia. This shirt, famous because of an obvious parody of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's shoot, has the faces of John Lennon and Yoko Ono changed to those of Sub Pop founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, making this a very unique shirt. Most of the tees have a mark printed on them but this one hadn't, the mark was later added at the request of Sub Pop but there are still unmarked t-shirts like this in existence. I heard about it from my friend Jeff Ross who was printing t-shirts himself at the time so I'm pretty confident about that.
This shirt is the first one printed with a Nevermind cover on it. The universal acclaim of Nevermind led to mass-production of similar t-shirts in enormous quantities so more than 90% of the vintage Nevermind shirts you might stumble upon are mass-produced ones. The first shirt had a smaller front print compared to the mass-produced one, the dye used there was water-based and the Hanes tee was used as a blank.
November 4, 1993
Parking lot t-shirt from the time Nirvana played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. In Utero's parking lot t-shirts with rare prints on unusual blanks are especially popular.
This show was also remarkable because of the Meat Puppets and the BOREDOMS (BOREDOMS being a Japanese rock band) performing there as well.
I got this t-shirt in Japan a few years ago. I've never seen the same shirt before or after the purchase as well as I don't have any information about its origins so it is a rare find regardless.
The color of the wings here is the most unusual part. "In Utero" tees usually have a brighter blue woman's body color, have unique stitching width and are quite a bit wider than other t-shirts. The left side of the picture is the off-colored one and the right side is a more regular euro-blank "In Utero" tee. They have similar colors but not quite the exact same. Both have very rare wing colors and are indeed hard to find. You can clearly see the difference by comparing them side-by-side.
Have you heard of "Legiteem8" (vintage t-shirt authentication app)? As a Nirvana expert, I authenticate vintage t-shirts on a daily basis.

I've once received a request for authentication for the same t-shirt and it was in a very good condition so I estimated its value of $2500. The tag on the blank has been cut off, but it is definitely one of the Screen Stars Best made in the USA making it one of the most popular and desirable parking lot t-shirts from the "In Utero" period. There is also the same shirt with 93-94 printed on the back instead of 93, but the blank has the Horizon tag which indicates that it was made in Pakistan.

It is really not that uncommon for a rare parking lot t-shirt to be worth over $2000 if it is in good size and condition with tags still attached so this one is a near perfect example of what you are supposed to keep your eye on as a collector.
The event at the end of last year that introduced Hikki's NIRVANA collection was a media that introduced various genres of vintage. Sponsored by Legend of Vintage.

Hikki: Last December I was finally able to hold a very special event in Tokyo to display part of my vintage t-shirt collection. We had many customers of all ages and genders come to visit and we were more than happy to learn about their genuine deep interest in vintage t-shirts.

I truly wish that more people will catch on to the t-shirt collector's hobby not only here in Japan but all over the globe given more time.

Thank you to everyone for being interested in my quest to represent my passion as a collector here. Thank you!
28 February, 2024