Fashion History: Screen Stars - The Best Blanks of the 80s and 90s
Screen Stars T-Shirts were arguably the most widely circulated blanks for screen printing in the 1980s and early 1990s. Screen Stars were produced by Fruit of The Loom under the Registered Identification Number (RN) 13765. Fruit of the Loom produced Screen Stars blanks exclusively for wholesale to be screen printed. Although highly debated, Screen Stars blanks are regarded by many vintage t-shirt collectors to have the greatest fit and weight of any popular 80s/90s blank shirt brand.
In most cases, Screen Stars were produced with a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester. As the tees are worn, washed and weathered the cotton threads gradually begin to fade (due to its organic nature) while the polyester threads remain, leaving behind a paper-thin, incredibly soft and lightweight tee.
Screen Stars primarily produced adult sized short sleeve tees, but the brand also produced long sleeve tees, crewneck sweaters, sweats and other activewear in both adult and child sizes. Screen Stars also produced 100% cotton tees which can typically be identified by blue accents featured in the logo on the tag. In general, most t-shirts during the peak of Screen Stars’ production (80s-90s) were 50/50 cotton blends; so a 100% cotton Screen Star is notably unique and difficult to come by.
Verifiable evidence and research on the minute differences between Screen Stars construction styles and tag branding is lacking. The most ubiquitous Screen Stars tags are the “Screen Stars Best” black tags with white and red accent, featured in our “We Have Seen the Enemy” collection. It’s safe to assume that Screen Stars Best tees were produced in the greatest quantities, at the peak of the brand’s production in the late 1980’s and 1990s. The origin of the “Screen Stars Best” nomenclature is difficult to verify. After researching, the “Best” origin is either representative of a heavier (higher quality) fabric, or a larger and more boxy cut for the changing styles and shape of American consumers during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The best way to learn more about Screen Stars tees is to come in contact with them and verify the differences for yourself. Not much detail about the varying cuts and tag designs can be catalogued objectively, so it’s up to you to decide what you believe are the differences. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of iterations of the tags which are fun to look at, examine and attempt to date. For starters, head over to Defunkd.com, a vintage focused site that has been collecting photos of old tags for years. Below are just a few of the ones featured in their own photo collection.
Fruit of the Loom Undershirts
Fruit of The Loom Non-Branded Tag - Late 1960s / Early 70s
Fruit of the Blank Tees for Screen Printing
Fruit of the Loom Blank Tee Tags - 1970s
Screen Stars Tags
Screen Stars Tag - 1980
Screen Stars Tag Blue - 1980
Screen Stars Tag with New Logo - 1981 to 1983
Screen Stars Tag with Updated "A" - 1983 to roughly 1990
Screen Stars Best - Late 1980s to Early 1990s
Other Rare and Uncommon Tags
Screen Stars Best 100% Cotton
Super Screen Stars
Heavy Screen Stars
Screen Stars Woven Label
"We Have Seen The Enemy" Screen Stars Tees
ThriftCon was lucky enough to track down a few cases of deadstock early 1990s Screen Stars Best tees from a storage unit in Atlanta. We created a design the exemplified our commitment to encouraging a more sustainable way of life through vintage clothing. The collection can be shopped and viewed below.