Authentic Vintage Race Brand Henley?

Reader and vintage collector curious about the authenticity of a would-be vintage Race brand Henley shirt:

Hey Tug…your website says “ask me anything” so I thought I’d give it a shot. This is “Today’s Thrift Score” (name of my blog too, “Thrift Score and More“)

This undershirt looks to be 1930s-ish, shell buttons, sleeve detail, but it is so clean and like new.

I don’t know about this label “RACE”, do you have any information?

I’m stumped, usually when I find items of this vintage there is some discoloration, age spots etc…this is almost Minty Fresh…

THANKS! Kevin in Kentucky


Made in USA Underwear

Race brand Henley Photos (Click to Enlarge)

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Race brand Henley: Initial Research

I did a bunch of research to see if I could find any historical information about this brand (RACE), but I just couldn’t find anything. I sent over a query to Jimmy at Defunkd, my go-to vintage expert, and he came back with the following feedback:

cool! never seen before, but I don’t have much experience with the these – but everything looks legit on being old. unnecessary quotes, boasting about a trademark…almost too perfect…and it’s so clean. most of the super ones i’ve seen are an off white aged color…but were actually worn.

Maybe it could have been well preserved….I can’t dig up anything about it in searches either…repro brands usually show up. could be a japanese repro, they’re really into that.

hmmmm…can’t really say one way or another. stumped! sorry sir

– Jimmy

I reached out to a long-time reader, Skip, who’s also familiar with vintage brands, and he said:

Hi Tug,

Hard to say….the brand name does not ring a bell. There were (and still are) numerous apparel makers out there with private labels, but I’ve never heard of this one. All of the folks connected to the clothing business in our family are now deceased.

I agree, your reader’s skepticism is well founded—-the buttons look suspicious. While they could be replacements that were sewn on, clear plastic buttons would indicate 1960’s or more recent vintage. If it was truly manufactured in the 40’s, it would most likely be a bone button or would have substantially yellowed by now.

The armbands are really strange, never seen anything like that before.

Sorry not to be of much help!

– Skip

I emailed is a historian at Jockey, but I haven’t heard back from him yet.

I’ll also one of my contacts at Mister Freedom in Los Angeles and see if they have any info about this brand.

Let’s see what we can find out.

8/10/14 Update – Mister Freedom Response

I heard back from Christophe, at Mister Freedom with the following, extremely helpful insight:

From the font/label design and other details, this is very typical of semi-vintage (~1970’s) garments made in China or the Philippines. You will see a lot of that with knits shirts and sweatshirts.

Those brands were not trying to make replicas of vintage clothing, just used older designs because that’s what sold. The target audience was local workers, not avant-garde fashion shoppers. These garments also ended in African markets, in Countries were China had trade arrangements and other ‘cultural’ ventures.

These brands marketed themselves as legit western brands, to imply quality, and always tried to camouflage the “Made in” part. Like Made in R.P., Empire Made, Made in ROC, etc…

There is an older Chinese brand called “Champion” (flannel shirts, denim shirts etc…) that fits that bill, and countless others, like “Hi-Q”.
Also, Chinese workers have been wearing henley-type shirts way before they became all the rage in the West in the past few years ;-)

Thanks Tug.

So based on the above info, it appears Kevin’s short sleeve Henley shirt just might be a quasi-vintage Henley (70’s), and not a true authentic mid 1900’s vintage Henley shirt/undershirt from a Western (American) brand.

Thanks to Christophe for providing this insight!


How to wear undershirts

2 thoughts on “Authentic Vintage Race Brand Henley?”

  1. I’ve owned a few Race brand shirts in my lifetime (I’m 24 years old as of this posting).

    The last one I was able to purchase was back in 2009 in the Philippines.

    My grandfather (now in his 70’s) wears Race and Champion only. Most of his Race shirts are fairly new looking the last time I saw him last year, so I assume that these can still be found brand new.

    We call this type of shirt “Camisa de Chino” in the Philippines. Often worn under a barong Tagalog, but also worn by itself because they’re very comfortable and breathable in the hot and humid summer.

    I love mine, but unfortunately this is my last remaining Race henley.

    • heya ged, thanks for stopping by my site and sharing news of your race henleys with us buddy!

      i may grab your images from imgr and put them here on my site so they’ll never get deleted (:

      im kinda surprised that long sleeve henleys get worn in such hot/humid climates. if anything, i would’ve expected short sleeve henleys to be more popular.

      why do you think that is?


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