The man with 4500 T-shirts and counting
Collector Eddie Zammit has co-curated a new exhibition which celebrates Melbourne's contribution to T-shirt design. (Additional footage: Carl Allison)PT2M55S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2aznc 620 349 December 7, 2012
Eddie Zammit owns over 4500 t-shirts, runs a magazine devoted to t-shirts, and is about to participate in a Federation Square exhibition devoted to t-shirts. They may not be the most prestigious item of clothing, he believes, but they are the one that most lend themselves to creative and personal expression.
"I've been collecting them for over 20 years," said the 38-year-old Melbourne graphic designer. "For me it's the fact that anyone, of any age, can wear a t-shirt and have their own self-expression."
More than 500 t-shirts will be on display at TEES:Exposing Melbourne's T-shirt Culture at the National Gallery of Victoria studio at Federation Square from Friday until February 17. Over 80 per cent will be from Mr Zammit's collection, mostly those with some of Melbourne connection.
More than 500 t-shirts will be on display at TEES:Exposing Melbourne's T-shirt Culture.
And that 4500-strong collection – half of which Mr Zammit estimates he has worn – could have been a lot larger.
"I've given away over 20,000 t-shirts over the last six years," he said. "But I've also been given many as well."
His collection, estimated to be worth $150,000, is kept in three storage containers on the Mornington Peninsula. The necessity of external storage became apparent in a dispute with a former girlfriend, he said.
Eddie Zammit has been collecting t-shirts for more than 20 years.
"We had a funny argument over wardrobe space," he said. "That's when I knew I had a problem, when I was arguing for more wardrobe space than her. I ended up getting it."
Besides publishing his six-year-old magazine T-World, Mr Zammit also hosts t-shirt parties in Melbourne and Sydney and has attended similar functions overseas in New York, London, Los Angeles and Toronto.
"I love graphics on t-shirts as opposed to plain t-shirts," he said. "T-World came out of my wanting to know the stories behind the graphics."
The most money he's spent on a t-shirt was $500 on a Hysteric Glamour design from Japan that parodied the logo used in, of all things, the former Australian drama Prisoner.
"I'm definitely a person who likes longevity in brands and they've got that history," said Mr Zammit of Hysteric Glamour.
His top-ten t-shirts are:
10. "All torque and no action" by the Fitzroy Muscle Car Club, a one-off brand.
9. "Ketamine is a drug for horses" by Schwipe t-shirts.
8. A collaboration between designers Grand Scheme and Meggs featuring a demon/skull character and a mishmash of type in the background
7. A Mont La Roc t-shirt with "Hell Yes" written in bright rainbow colours. "I've had a lot of response to this t-shirt when I'm out in public. People yell out, yeah!" said Mr Zammit.
6. A Funk Essentials design with stripes. "I was a bit of a raver back in the day."
5. Mooks t-shirts, especially those featuring the Mooks trademark of a lightbulb-like devil head.
4."I joined Al-Qaeda and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" in Guantanamo Bay orange.
3. A 1989 design from Australian graffiti artist Jay Rankine featuring an Andy Warhol Campbells soup can morphed into a spray can.
2. A Burn Crew design of a Melbourne train with "burn" written on the side.
1. The shoplifter t-shirt by Howies featuring a barcode and the word "shoplifter" written in lieu of the barcode numbers. A mechanism inserted into the sleeve triggers shoplifter alarms in stores.