Back in 2020, a newcomer to the vintage scene made a debut that made headlines everywhere. As many will remember, in September of 2020,a 1992 promotional shirt for Disney’s Aladdin, which featured an all over print of the animated genie sold for an astonishing $6,000 USD from Corbin Smith @heatbroker on Chris Fernandez’s live auction @virtualflea. The question that has been on everyone’s mind, however, is “Who the hell bought this shirt?” and “Why the hell did it sell for the price of a used Honda Civic?”
From what we know, the buyer was a man named Josh Adams @shirtcheck, a man in his early 40s and has been working on an innovation theory for over eight years, and that is what brought his interest to the vintage scene. Josh started up his own selling account @varlago, which has amassed a following of 3,400 on Instagram, but since February 2021, the account has been dormant. He seemed to specialize more so in movie promo tees such as The Mask, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Beetlejuice and many others.
He has always said that his theory is much more important to him, although he does plan to be in the vintage game for the long haul, it is not his end game. He seems to have used this purchase to help him test the way people rationalize or justify their actions. “My theory brought me to vintage. I was watching the market with intention,” Josh explained. “I knew enough about the vintage market to get curious enough to invest time watching and challenging my assumptions.” He believes that innovation has occurred as of yet in our space, but the opportunity does exist to move the needle, you would just need to apply a model of analysis to do so.
Josh seemed to be making the most theoretical approach to manipulating the market in such a way to test whether it is possible for one person to make a big difference, however, along the way something must have changed his mind or made him realize it was not sustainable as he is now nowhere to be found.
Although he is no longer playing a role in the scene, he most definitely has made a sizable impact. The sale of this shirt was featured in publications such as Vice and The Wall Street Journal, one of, if not the first time the vintage scene made such a splash in mainstream media. After making such appearances, the Virtual Flea took off in popularity, according to Cody Tavares (@cody_tavares) “the Virtual Flea really became the world stage of vintage.” He likened it to Sotheby’s for vintage, all because of this one sale.
Whether this sale was made solely to test a theory and to move the needle within a somewhat small market, or because the buyer actually valued the shirt at $6,000 we will never know, but we know for certain that this had an immediate, but not permanent effect on the market of vintage clothing.