How to buy a t-shirt when all you have is a picture

Jan 14, 2018 — We get frequent requests for help finding a t-shirt someone saw in their Facebook feed or out on the streets. I love to help. Here’s what I do when all I have is an image of a t-shirt.

There are two types of pictures I’ll be asked to look up:

  • A “design” picture, similar to what we feature on Day of the Shirt, that someone downloaded from social media feed or website.
  • An “action” shot in the wild of someone wearing the shirt or resting in a dresser.

What I want to do is match up that image with a site or artist shop where it’s being sold.

Using Google Image Search to match up the design

I’ll start by using Google Image Search. A little known feature is that you can drag-and-drop an image from your computer and Google Image Search will find similar images and the original website where they’re hosted.

This works great for “design” images, less so for “action” shots. I’ll crop down action shots to just the design so Google Image Search is matching on the part I care about (the shirt) and not the parts I don’t (the bedspread it’s lying on). It can be an inexact art; for example, Google hasn’t optimized for identifying whether a sword is from Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Zelda, or Lord of the Rings.

If I can find a matching image, I’ll click through Google Image Search to the website. If it’s for sale, I’m golden.

Searching for the artist’s shop

If the shirt isn’t for sale any more, now I’m making note of the t-shirt name and artist. I’ll check RedBubble and TeePublic, and if the artist doesn’t have a store at either I’ll Google “ t-shirt shop”.

99% of the time, I’ll find the artist’s shop. Sometimes that particular design isn’t for sale; often because it’s exclusive. I’ll message the artist to find out if they’ll be selling it again soon.

That’s what we do at Day of the Shirt to search out a design. Do you have a t-Shirt trick? Email us at [email protected] or tweet us.