Are YSL’s $4,000 T-Shirts the Most Expensive Nirvana Merch Ever?

Creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s Yves Saint Laurent is nothing if not a buffet of bougie indulgences. Come for the objectively stylish, almost uniformly black wearables, stay for the YSL-branded skate decks, wooden board games, and $900 pool floaties.

Or the $4,000 Nirvana T-shirts, in this case.

See, Vaccarello’s mainline collections offer typical YSL fare — luxury clothes, sunglasses, handbags — while Saint Laurent Rive Droite fleshes out the big picture of Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent with everything from home goods to collaborative timepieces.

And as part “The Vintage” drop Saint Laurent Rive Droite is now selling perhaps the world’s most expensive vintage Nirvana T-shirts.

YSL has served up a smorgasbord of handpicked vintage rock T-shirts as part of its summer Rive Droite drops, mostly comprising original Nirvana band tees.

You’ve got a ’90s-era In Utero shirt, for instance, ($2,690), a classic Nirvana Smiley Face ($990), and, the pièce de résistance, an original Incesticide T-shirt priced at a princely $4,450.

It’s not just a Nirvana party, though: Saint Laurent also picked up various other vintage tees that fit the Vaccarello ethos, including a Twilight Zone tee ($350), peace sign T-shirt ($650), and an old Roy Lichtenstein shirt ($990).

Remember that these are all vintage T-shirts, not YSL blanks printed with referential designs. So what’s up with the crazy prices!?

In Saint Laurent’s defense, some vintage T-shirts are worth their weight in gold. Part of the demand fueling the retro rock tee boom in the mid-2010s was that authentic, decades-old band tees are rare enough to become collectible, especially in wearable condition.

You can reproduce the feel, fit, and look of a vintage T-shirt but you can’t recreate the age. Same thing as an old painting or historic manuscript, except you can actually wear it.

And, also to YSL’s credit, it has some fairly rare Nirvana merch on hand. The original Backstage Pass Smiley Face and Giant by Anvil Insecticide tees are worth at least a couple hundred bucks on eBay, for instance, though original In Utero merch appears to be the real prize.

Now, all of those tees can be had for a lot less elsewhere (albeit in different sizes and conditions) so we’ll just have to assume that a Saint Laurent co-sign adds a couple hundred bucks to any price tag.

The vintage T-shirt drop — which appears to be mostly sold-out online — preceded a couple likeminded Saint Laurent Rive Droite collections, including a very summery capsule ($995 YSL pool floaties, $33k surfboards) and a $12,000 team-up with guitar manufacturer Fender.

Especially in the wake of prior creative director Hedi Slimane, who’s keeping rock ‘n roll alive at CELINE, no wonder that Saint Laurent still has the band tee bug.

Just don’t expect future collections of curated vintage to be any more affordable.

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