Podcast: How To Spot Fake T-shirts With Defunkd's Jimmy J
Fakes. They're everywhere. Think about it just in terms of going out on a standard day. It's estimated that about 10 percent of physical goods on the street are a counterfeit product and that 80 percent of us have handled something fake at least once in our lives. Honestly, that number probably shoots up to a full 100 percent if we're adding in old relationships.
But as far as copied t-shirts have been concerned, it really hasn't been an issue save for the few thousand or so OG collectors buying them years ago from online sites like eBay. It happened in the past too, just not to the extent it does today, explains our guest on this episode of Tee Time
That small niche of vintage enthusiasts getting burned is what led James Applegath to create a Reddit-style forum online called Defunkd in the early 2000s. Its goal was to catalog legit tags and build an archive of bonafide threads. Anyone who's ever searched for anything vintage online has come across this site at least once. It was the first and is still the best resource available hands down.
Years after Defunkd's launch, however, the vintage scene blew up and continued to grow into what it is today — sparked by celebrity engagement and a pandemic that kept most of us locked inside searching for the comfort of nostalgia. And when that much money begins to circulate in a community-led movement, there are always nefarious players in the shadows looking to take advantage. The amount of fake t-shirts coming into the industry has grown exponentially, says Jimmy, with little in the way of regulatory efforts to stop it. Take sneakers, as an example, it's a massive problem for retailers and it's only getting worse by the day.
So to try and combat that, Jimmy teamed up with another vintage enthusiast friend of his and updated the Defunkd idea for the hyper-digital age. Think you've got a fake vintage shirt? There's an app for that.
"Fakes are becoming a problem," says Amir Vejdani, co-founder of Legiteem8, an online authentication app. "I see no reason why in 10 years vintage tees aren't in the same place that sneakers were 10 years ago."
Because of its potential to standardize not only counterfeit tees but also to reel in some of the obnoxious prices resellers are asking without any basis of value, we invited Amir and Jimmy to talk about the early days of Defunkd and the new revolution in t-shirt authentication.
We also finally figured out what kind of breakfast burritos Mars and Ken like the least. Thank god.