Despite our best efforts, our favourite items of clothing eventually do what all well-worn pieces of clothing tend to do: they fade. They fray. They tear. Sometimes we even grow out of them, physically and psychologically: we swap our band tees for work shirts, and move on.
There are most probably millions of t-shirt designs that have faded into oblivion through lack of physical or photographic evidence, remembered only by those that wore and loved them, and those who once saw them and thought, “Damn, I wish I owned that shirt”.
But now, thanks to the Instagram account This Old Shirt, there remains some sort of record – photographic, anyway – of t-shirts from around the world that might otherwise be forgotten or go unseen. There are old band tees picked up at long-since-ended world tours, obscure promotional tees for films and TV shows, tees endorsing cereals, MTV, beer, American cities, cars, and of course, tees that don’t really make much sense but exist all the same, like the characters from Daria drawn as Beavis and Butthead, or this alligator listening to a Walkman and drinking beer while in a rubber tube.
Because a world in which the meaningless ephemera of bygone decades isn’t stored for posterity isn’t worth living in.