T-shirt keepsakes are millennial must-haves

If only baby boomers had been able to foresee the way their rock concert souvenirs would become millennial fashion statements.

The trendlet

Rocker - or band - Ts are the cool layer under a zip-up hoodie or tuxedo jacket that makes Prince or KISS fans squeal with nostalgic delight.

Where does it come from?

No one knows for sure exactly which boy band members were first to have their likenesses splashed on T-shirts (and other concert paraphernalia). But it's safe to say the Beatles, who formed in 1960, were among the first to be merched as such.

As the 1960s rolled into the '70s and '80s, the Ts remained a favorite concert concession staple at Rolling Stones and Run-D.M.C. shows alike.

Interesting band-T factoid: In 1984, Frankie Goes to Hollywood released their debut single, a sexually suggestive song called "Relax." It was temporarily banned from the airwaves, and the group created a T-shirt with the words Frankie Says Relax, which became at least as popular as the song.

It wasn't until the late '90s that replica band Ts from fast-fashion labels like Junk Food started to be sold in mall staples like Wet Seal and Urban Outfitters. Eventually, H&M, Target, and, yes, even Walmart got in on the fun.

As the web opened up a vast world of virtual retail spaces from Craigslist to eBay, those old Ts tucked in attics and basements became valuable. Throw in festival season, when everything hippie is hip again, and the style couldn't help but explode.

In August, rock purists cried foul when Kendall Jenner appeared at the grand opening of a Beverly Hills boutique in a Slayer T-shirt. Were we to believe Jenner actually listened to hard rock? (Well, she did save the world from racism with a Pepsi.)

Who is wearing it?

Ke$ha in Metallica; Miley Cyrus in a twofer, Biggie/Tu-Pac; Cara Delevingne in KISS; Alicia Keys in Bob Marley. Need I go on?

Would Elizabeth wear one?

I own two A Tribe Called Quest Ts; one Earth, Wind, and Fire; one Stevie Wonder; and one Fleetwood Mac. I'm on the lookout for a 1970s-era Jackson 5 - when the whole group had Afros.

Should you wear one?

Yes. But only if you like music.

ewellington@phillynews.com

215-854-2704

@ewellingtonphl

All T-shirts are available at Haute Mama, 55 E. Main St., #7, Marlton, www.hautemama mala.com. Jimi Hendrix, Recycled Karma, $42; the Rolling Stones, Day Dreamer, $60; Love More, Dazey LA, $24; Aerosmith, Haute Mama, $60.