The Rise and Rise of the Band Shirt

Inside vintage’s red-hot market with Rick Moe, go-to tee dealer for the likes of Jerry Lorenzo and Virgil Abloh.

WRITER: Kristin Anderson PHOTOGRAPHER: Cobey Arner

The Rock Tee holds an immortal place in the zeitgeist like few other garments do. In the pre-Internet Age, it served as a signifier for like-minded fans to find one another and band together in tastes that were obscure or subcultural. With the explosion of social media, though, it’s ascended to new highs as a staple of 21st-century style, ubiquitous in paparazzi shots, Instagram feeds and the runways alike. 

Way back in 2012, Nicolas Ghesquière, then-creative director of Balenciaga, riffed on Iron Maiden’s iconically heavy-metal typeface. Off-White has sent forth their take on an Oasis tee, and death metal graphics have turned up in Vetements collections. Hell, the members of Slayer have even feuded with the Kardashian-Jenners about the latter sporting their merch, sparking plenty of conversation about the nature of gatekeeping and whether to wear a band’s logo is a right that has to be earned. Rock shirts have moved out of the merch booth and into a place of marketability.

At the forefront of the past decade’s vintage tee boom is Rick Moe, founder of Tyranny + Mutation. Since opening his virtual doors in 2012, Moe has racked up a clientele including the likes of Rihanna, Jerry Lorenzo, Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh and Lena Waithe. His shop spans decades, genres and sensibilities, from your lurid ‘90s Rolling Stones tie-dye to a perfectly distressed Wu-Tang style

Ahead of his curation for the Fall Exhibit, GOAT caught up with Moe to talk about the first tee he ever bought, the escalation of his industry and the grail tee he’s still hunting for.

Shop the full Tyranny + Mutation collection here.

Shop Fall Exhibit: Tyranny + Mutation