Justin Bieber may have spent an undisclosed amount on a Fear of God custom Nirvana rock t-shirt recently but he got off cheap.
Fear of God, a company selling rock t-shirts and other expensive rock apparel like Kanye West's Yeezus line has raised the bar for band apparel.
One-of-a-kind rock apparel has also attracted the interest of collectors as well as fans. Not long ago, the green cardigan sweater Kurt Cobain wore for the 1993 MTV acoustic performance by the band sold at auction for $137,500! The music memorabilia market has become big business for fans who can afford it and collectors who know a good investment when they see one.
The auction house had estimated the sweater would "only" see between $40-60,000 but they were wrong. The market has decided the item is worth much more.
A Manhattan brand cardigan, the sweater has a burn hole, presumably from a cigarette, a missing button, and is slightly discolored, proving music memorabilia doesn't have to be in mint condition in order to fetch an extraordinarily high price. In some cases, it may actually enhance the value. The item was offered by someone described as a "friend of the Cobain family."
The winning bidder received an official, signed letter of authenticity and provenance from Cobain's survivors.
The auction site also sold off Nirvana's gold record for sales of their In Utero album and the platinum record they were awarded for Nevermind.
In 1988, a striped nightshirt worn by Cobain at a Wahington DC gig at Speedy O'Tubbs Rhythmic Underground sold for $3,000 on eBay. Odds are it would have brought at least three times that much over 25 years later.
It's an open question what Cobain himself would have thought of someone spending $137,500 on an article of his clothing. Or what John Lennon would have thought about one of his Gibson guitars selling at auction for $2.41 million. What can't be argued however is that music memorabilia has become big business.
From metal t-shirts like Metallica's classic tank top to punk t-shirts featuring the Clash or Sex Pistols, rock t-shirts are big sellers in the band apparel market. Merchandise has become a big part of nearly every band or performer's business model.