“No one likes a quitter,” says Isac Walter, also known as Minor Thread, the blog he runs where every day he documents what he wears. For the past 9 years and counting, he's worn a new band T-shirt every, single, day. Isac is a band T-shirt archivist with a collection of about 10 000 T-shirts, each different from the next. He keeps his collection in plastic storage tubs in a basement room in his house in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Sacramento he was already a collector; hot wheels, GI Joe’s and Transformers were his loot. “I even bought the crappy GI Joes just to have the whole set,” he says. “I’m neurotic like that.”
His astounding collection of band T-shirts started accidentally. He got into the habit of buying merch at gigs to support the bands he liked. He’d regret it if he didn’t pick up a shirt at a show, so would hunt the T-shirts down to fill the holes in his trove. If a shirt got ruined on the 15th attempt to grind down a 10 stair handrail on his skateboard, he’d search for its replacement. Before he knew it he was actively adding to a growing collection; one he’s still adding to to this day. “It seems I have trouble stopping,” he says. He’s finds T-shirts all over the place: friends, thrift stores, eBay, trading with other collectors. “I have even bought them off a person’s back at a show,” he says. “I'm not scared.” That’s how he got his hands on a Morrissey shirt from their Southpaw Grammar tour in the mid-nineties.
The bands on Isac’s T-shirts play a variety of music; he doesn’t stick to a specific genre, but he does have two rules that he follows: “One, I have to be able to fit into the shirt. Not just fit like a fat guy in a skinny coat. But [I have to] actually wear it and be comfortable and not have my belly hanging out of the bottom. The other rule is that I have to like a band/record or at least have an affinity/appreciation for their contribution to music.”
If Isac can’t find a specific T-shirt he is looking for for the right price and in the right size (vintage T-shirts come in way smaller sizes), he’s been known to take matters into his own hands. “I recreate the shirt art and screen print one for myself replicating the print process to match perfectly (or as perfectly as humanly possible),” he says.
Once he’s chosen which T-shirt he’s going to wear on any given day, Isac will pose for a photo. “I take them all myself on a timer. That’s why they are all so shitty,” he says smiling. The first time he did this was in the height of summer, on the 1st of July 2011. He wore an Alloy for Prez T-shirt, the 1988 EP by American punk rock band All. He posts the pics to his blog and also to Instagram where he can’t predict what will get attention and what might fly under the radar. “Sometimes the really rare T-shirts are a niche market and are underrated, but the few [followers] who know, are REALLY stoked,” he says.
Isac compares wearing a band T-shirt in public to social networking. “People always comment on it, tell you they like it, or that the band rules,” he says. “It always starts conversations with random people who have stories to tell you about their relationship with a band or a record. It is really an interesting social experiment in that way. Next time you wear a band shirt out, pay attention to who stares at you, who comments, and who strikes up a conversation.”
“A good shirt needs to have had lots of love and a lil' soul,” Isac says. he prefers a naturally worn thread to a T-shirt that’s been manufactured to be thin or weathered. “They are never as good as the ones you break in yourself or [the ones that are] worn out from being washed/worn 1000 times.”
It’ll be a while still until Isac gets to break in a T-shirt through multiple wears and washes though; he’s hoping to wear a new T-shirt every day until he reaches a decade. “Decade of a Dressin,” he says. The challenge is set. “I just want to finish what I started,” he says, “that’s really it.”
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