I’ve always struggled trying to tell people exactly what it is that I do. Usually, when I tell people “I sell vintage T-shirts on eBay” it is followed by them saying, “Oh, so do you print your own designs or what?”
No, man. No. Were you even listening to what I just said?
I’ve learned that most people just don’t understand and, well… that’s okay! “Vintage” is a MASSIVELY overused term. With so many modern day tees printed with that “vintage look” (i.e. “retro”) I think people get confused with the notion as to why someone would want to sell “old” T-shirts. Why not just print your own that are new but look old?
Well, maybe it’s for the same reasons why Mike and Frank of American Pickers enjoy picking through piles and piles of “junk” to find that airplane propellor or car battery sign.
It’s the history of the tees that fascinate me.
While I may never know the story behind the T-shirt itself or the person who wore it, I can research why it exists at all.
This is an easy one. Everyone knows the story of OJ Simpson and his incredibly overhyped trial. It wasn’t long before anyone and everyone was trying to capitalize on it. Who knows how many were printed or how many still exist today. All I know is that I have one perfectly documented within the pages of eBay and that’s awesome. Now it just needs a good home (I’m looking at you Guy Who Buys OJ Simpson Trial Stuff).
How about this one:
I love this T-shirt because of it’s history. It was printed at the dawn of the age of video games. Sierra is best known for its multiple lines of graphic video games that started in the 80s and proved influential in the HISTORY OF VIDEO GAMES. Sierra is now owned by Activision who is a major player in the video game arena. So, I assume this tee was probably provided to players of the antiquated games of the 80s (remember 80’s era 3D?). This isn’t just a cool tee, it’s a historical artifact.
Granted, not every T-shirt provides me with a history lesson, but many tees are wrought with emotion. Whether it be from a marathon, someone’s tour in Desert Storm or from an aerobatic airplane show (where the exact plane pictured on the tee eventually crashed into the ground killing the pilot) each shirt was bought or obtained for a reason! I can feel that reason. In the same way an archaeologist uncovers dinosaur bones and forever links himself to the dinosaur he found, I’ve found the same relationship with the T-shirts in my inventory.
This is more than just a job and more than just selling old T-shirts. It is preserving the past for others to experience.
That’s why I’m a Historical T-Shirt Preservationist.