Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

'Replacement T-shirt please': Someone tried to return a 42-year-old shirt to UBC bookstore

The 'vintage' garment is now on display.

Someone decided to return a 42-year-old shirt to the UBC Bookstore. 

Rather than cram it into his closet, Mark Gibbs sent his aged, torn, and faded yellow Thunderbirds T-shirt back to the bookstore, along with a handwritten letter and several photos.

Gibbs, who is from Swansea, Wales, bought the shirt while visiting UBC as part of the Cardiff college of education rugby tour in 1981. 

Though he wore it with pride, he says that he is very disappointed with the quality, pointing out that the shirt has worn, shrunk, and sports several paint stains.

He sent two photos as evidence; the first shows Gibbs wearing the reasonably intact shirt in 1983 and the second photo, taken in 2022, indicates the toll of the years. 

“Simply not good enough,” Gibbs wrote cheekily on the back of the second photo. “Replacement T-shirt please.”

Gibbs wrote the tongue-in-cheek letter to simply put a smile on someone's face. "£8 in postage for a giggle. A free t-shirt in return would be a bonus!" he says.

UBC Bookstore director Steve Alb wrote back almost immediately after receiving his request. 

“Having endured 40 years of wear we are similarly shocked that the shirt has finally given up the ghost – talk about shoddy product! We will of course replace it at no charge, even though our return window has been ever-so-slightly exceeded,” writes Alb in an email.

The bookstore's current exchange policy requires items to be in new, unworn condition with tags on with the original receipt and to be returned within 30 days.

Alb agreed to send Gibbs a replacement t-shirt, though with a new design. "We had to adapt to fashion trends," he writes. 

Gibbs' historic garment, along with his lighthearted letter and photos, is now on display at the UBC Bookstore.

“It’s not the Sistine Chapel, or the Great Pyramids, but it is a little slice of UBC history,” says Alb.