In Search of Real Vintage Screen Stars T-Shirts

Over the years here, I have definitely come across and read about the Screen Stars t-shirts of yesteryear.

As far as I can recall, everyone who wrote about them, loved them.

So, when I received the following email from a reader, I thought it would be a great time to dig deeper and learn more about this beloved t-shirt to see what all the fuss is about.

In Search of Screen Stars T-Shirts


I’ve been on a mission for the last couple of years (on and off) searching for someone who sells Screen Stars tees as they are my favorite t-shirt of all time.

I have a few remaining from the late 80s early 90s of which I just started wearing the last remaining unopened package.


Sweat Proof Undershirts

In my search, I have found several companies in the UK who sell the new Screen Stars made by Fruit of the Loom.

For some reason you cannot get them in the states.

My question to you:

Do you know if the “new” Screen Stars are any where close to the original?

I have contacted a company who is willing to ship to me in the states.

I’m so excited that I have found them but I don’t want to be disappointed when they arrive and have them be completely different from my originals.

I understand there will be slight differences, I just hope they didn’t take the screen star name and slap it on a different design.

Thank you for your time.


Screen Stars T-Shirts 

Hey Jeremy,

Good to hear from you buddy and thanks for your question.

First things first: What’s the RN number on the back of the Screen Stars tees that you own??

Send me that ASAP so I can do a bit more research.

I have definitely read good things about the Screen Stars t-shirt brand. The ones that seem to get the most love are the 50/50 poly/cotton undershirts, but maybe their 100% cotton undershirts were great too.

Which ones do you have?

My guess is that it’s less likely that the new Screen Stars t-shirt will be close to the originals.

The reason I say that is because based on what I can tell, there were certain construction techniques used on the vintage undershirts of yesteryear that are not used in many of today’s t-shirts.

The techniques I’m referring to include fabric weight, knit type, weave tightness/looseness, quality of fabrics used, and pre-shrinking processes used.

While i’d love to give you good news, I doubt you’ll find these new Screen Stars tees to the same caliber as the old ones for the above reasons.

Here’s a blurb I found about the evolution of Screen Stars:

Screen Stars was purchased in the 80′s by BEST, which was later taken over by Fruit of A Loom.

The remnants of the Screen Star style can be found today in the Fruit of Loom BEST style tee. Many vintage tees were printed on the 50/50 screen star t-shirt blank with the paper Screen Star tag.

The lightweight comfort and feel of the screen start blank is desired by current collectors in the industry world wide.

More Research

I did a bit more research, and it seems as though that blurb might not be 100% accurate.

As far as I can tell, the brand “Screen Stars” was developed by the Union Underwear Company (Fruit of the Loom) during the 1970’s to sell unbranded t-shirt blanks to wholesalers for promotional print purposes.

Now, I will tell you that I’m doing a special investigation project for another two readers who are trying to track down some Sears Comfortsoft undershirts from the same vintage time frame, and my guess is that it has much of the same characteristics as the Screen Stars.

I’m trying to get a fabric sample to send to some folks in the fabric biz to get the fabric evaluated to see if we can learn something more about the fabric.

The only way I can tell if there’s anything similar would be to see the actual Screen Stars shirt.

This kinda reminds me of the old Towncraft 50/50 undershirts. They were so beloved, but JCPenney discontinued them.

A company took notice, and came up with an updated reproduction called Retro Fit early last year, and it’s been a huge success for them.

Maybe they’d do the same with the screen stars or even the Sears ComfortSoft? Who knows.

Let me know your thoughts – would love to help you find something here!

Screen Stars History

During my research, I came across some other great resources to help me piece together the history of Screen Stars tees.

Reware Vintage

Back in 2010, these folks put together a great overview of the evolution of Screen Stars t-shirt, first recording their 70’s era tees.

The post also includes the different care labels the brand used.


My buds over at also have a page on their site providing a Screen Stars t-shirt overview.

They also have photos of the various care labels the brand used.

Funding Universe

This is where I kinda hit the jackpot.

I found a comprehensive write-up on the History of Fruit of the Loom, an original brand brain-child of B. B. & R. Knight Brothers textile company from back in 1851.

That is where I found this little gem of information:

In 1976 Union acquired the century-old BVD trademark.

The company began to merchandise BVD as a completely separate line of underwear aimed at the more upscale department store market.

Union also began to expand its product line in 1978 to include “Underoos”–decorated underwear for boys and girl– and began to supply blank T-shirts for the screen print market during the 1970s.

The expansion into plain T-shirts soon evolved into a huge business known as Screen Stars, which sold unbranded T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweatpants to wholesalers who imprinted them for promotional uses.

Back to Jeremy

Jeremy and I had a few more email exchanges, where he confirmed that the product he was looking for was the loose-knit, super lightweight, 50/50 cotton/polyester blended Screen Stars.

He even sent me this image of the care label here he pulled off of Rewear Vintage.

Screen Stars t-shirt care label

He was hoping the $3 per shirt solution from that UK company would be close to what he was looking for, but frankly I’ve never run across a vintage-style 50/50 t-shirt or undershirt that was priced under $20 and it was something that I shared with Jeremy.

Come to find out the UK’s Screen Star tees were a 97/3 blend and not 50/50.

As of right now, there are only a small handful of companies that I’ve come across making 50/50 cotton/polyester loose-knit super lightweight “tee” / undershirt like this, and they include:

  1. BDG V-Neck Tee from Urban Outfitters ($14 per)
  2. Amercian Apparel 50/50 Poly-Cotton Short Sleeve ($20 – $22)
  3. Canvas 3402 55/45 distressed tee ($15 per) – search google
  4. Retro Fit from RibbedTee ($18 per). Available at
  5. Hanes makes a 50/50 ComfortBlend undershirt, and it’s nice, but it’s not super lightweight

The two closest to what Jeremy was looking for were BDG and Retro Fit.

Based on my last email exchange with Jeremy, I know he picked up some Retro’s, but not sure if he made it over to Urban Outfitters to grab some BDGs.

Hopefully we’ll find out.

If anyone has found any other 50/50 tees/undershirts that are super lightweight, stretchy, and loose knit, let me know about it in the comments section below.


Sweat Proof Undershirts

22 thoughts on “In Search of Real Vintage Screen Stars T-Shirts”

  1. I have a Screen Stars Best made for a church function in NJ in 1992. I want to duplicate this design onto a new t-shirt. I want the 50/50 blend. How can I do this?

    • heya judith, thanks for stopping by and posting your question.

      screen stars no longer exists, so it’s unlikely you’ll find that specific brand of t-shirt to print on.

      of course you can check on ebay or etsy, and see if any sellers are selling off old deadstock in the color you want. even if you do find them, you’d have to take them to a local screen printer, and it may be rather expensive to have a small number of t-shirts printed on while supplying your own t-shirts.

      another option is to look at sites like the following:

      i’m sure they have a cotton/poly t-shirt option in different colors. you just upload your design (or work with them on the design) and they’ll print any number of t-shirts for you.

      good luck!

  2. I have hundreds of NOS black label screen star tees. In all sizes and colors. These are from a late relative’s estate who had a shirt and gift shop in North Georgia. Some are still in sealed cases with 6 dozen in each box. Hit me up if anyone is still interested, i’m located in Athens Georgia.

  3. Found this site after doing some research on my favorite shirt, the famous Screen Stars 50/50 blend. I’ve had it for over a decade and bought it at a dollar store.

  4. Hi! We recently came across several hundred of blank vintage screen star t-shirts. Many in dead stock condition. White tags 50/50, black tags 50/50, black tag best 50/50 and a couple with the 70s tag original A. I was wondering what is the market for these blank T-shirts! Thank you!

  5. Hi, I need your opinion, what was the earliest dates for screen stars shirts I have one that’s one hundred percent cotton w an rn 13765 or 85 number. it has a Woodstock festival logo black w purple dove and dates from festival.

    I was told it was one of the earliest shirts screened but of course there were no t shirt sales at Woodstock that can be validated thanks.

    • heya michael,

      can you email me some good/clear photos of your 100% cotton screen stars t-shirt with the woodstock festival logo on it? be sure to take a clear photo of the neck care label, front and back.

      i have some resources that might be able to help us if you provide the photos.


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