In case you missed it, famous artists from the 2000s—Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Mary J. Blige, among other big names—performed on the Halftime show of this year’s Super Bowl.
Baggy pants, small shoulder bags, graphic tees, bucket hats, crop tops—all these were featured, and are a hit to Generation Z as evidenced by their wear on TikTok and Instagram. In fact, photographs taken by film cameras are the in-thing right now.
However, unlike fashion trends that come and go, Nathan Josh Ong’s love for vintage tees is timeless.
If you are a fan of vintage t-shirts, you might have chanced upon The Gallery’s (@_the__gallery_) Instagram page owned by Nathan. The page features a great selection of graphic tees perfect for pop culture junkies with designs like comic book heroes, cartoon characters, classic films, video games, artists, and other designs that most millennials were eyeing during their teenage years.
The 26-year-old collector is an omni-retail executive by profession. He was already into anything vintage since 2017 but it was only in 2019 that he began to invest on it. Though he couldn’t remember the very first vintage tee he owned, the 1994 Metallica “Unforgiven” Pushead was his “very first expensive vintage tee purchase.”
Unlike most collectors who frame their collection, Ong wears his. He described his style as luxurious streetwear where he mixes and matches streetwear and luxurious pieces, and incorporates them with his vintage tee of the day.
What inspired him to grow his collection was the uniqueness and exclusivity of each piece. “More often than not, you won’t see another person wearing the same piece as yours!” he shared.
Most of the pieces he owns have some sort of link to his childhood. Among his 55 pieces of vintage tees and counting, his current favorite piece is the iconic and rare 1992 Bjork t-shirt. The print of the shirt was photographed by Jean Bapiste Mondino for the pop star’s album, which Ong described as “definitely a gem you don’t see every day.”
The passionate collector sources his vintage tees both locally and internationally, mentioning online shops like @vintagebybigjoe, @vtgheatseeker and apps such as Grailed, Depop, Etsy and EBay. “I have also been to thrift shops here in Cebu and in Bohol.”
In 2020 during the lockdown due to Covid-19, Nathan, just like anyone else, found joy in online selling. He started to sell a couple of his unused clothing. But what inspired him to start this business was the desire to get rid of the negative stigma surrounding second-hand clothing or thrift-shopping or locally known as “ukay-ukay.”
For Nathan, thrift-shopping and vintage pieces—compared to fast fashion brands—stand the test of time in terms of quality and durability.
“In addition to that, you’re also saving Mother Earth by reusing and recycling used clothes. Each vintage piece is unique in its own way. Every flaw on the shirt gives it character and that’s what differentiates you from everyone else in terms of what you wear.”
He also has another Instagram account @galleryarchives_ where he posts all his personal archives and favorites, and writes about them like a micro blog.
Nathan also enthusiastically shared his goals as a collector: First is to buy what he likes and ignore the hype (as of now he is looking to expand his music tee selection). Second, develop as many relationships as he can within the vintage community. And lastly, to open a physical store slash coffee shop in the future, where vintage tee collectors, rookies or enthusiasts can meet and greet.
March 03, 2022
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