August 25, 2014
Choosing the Right Label for your Needs
By: Peter Gregory
Struggling to pick the right label for your needs? In this guide we’ll explain how to pick the perfect weave, fold, dimensions and colour for your label project.
Clothing labels work best when they serve a specific purpose. Before you can make decisions on weave, fold and design, you first need to understand exactly what it is that your label is going to do.
Your label might need to just explain the size of a garment, in which case a simple letter (‘S’, ‘M’, ‘L’ etc) might be all you need. A label might need to act as a permanent business card for your brand, including complex graphics, web addresses and so on. The weave, fold and design of these two examples alone will be radically different, and it all stems from the role each label must play.
Clothing labels usually fulfil one of three main functions: branding, compliance and retail…
Here at GB Labels, we say a branding label helps consumers to identify with a product and/or business. The primary purpose of branding labels is to deliver an impression, rather than to share any specific factual or legal information.
Branding labels usually include at least a logo and the brand’s name in a prominent location on the garment, but there are hundreds of decisions to make if you want to really hit the branding nail on the head. To learn more, take a look at our guide to branding and labelling in the fashion industry.
Depending on the country you’re selling your goods in, you might need to add certain labels just to comply with local laws. Most of our customers include wash care instructions, fibre content, country of origin, size and flammability on their compliance labels, but it all depends on the project. You might also need to include the registered address of your business, or include multiple translations of the same text for countries where there is more than one official language.
Our advice with compliance labels is to keep it simple, and choose a label type that is easy to read. A plain-weave label using black text on a white background is usually the best choice. If you would like more information on labels and the law, both in the UK and the EU, check out our recent guide.
The moment you sell a batch of your designs to a retailer, those products enter a highly competitive environment: the fashion shop clothes rail!
Your products will most likely share a rack with items of a similar type, all hanging close together and fighting for a split-second’s worth of attention from a passing shopper. In this cut-throat environment, your retail label has to stand out.
Swing tickets are the main type of retail label, but hem tags and neck tags can sometimes be retail labels, too. Aim for arresting designs, bold colours, unusual shapes and interesting textures; the mission is to grab that shopper’s wandering eye!
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what your label must do, you’re ready to start making decisions about the label’s weave, fold, dimensions and colour.
At GB Labels, we offer three main weave types:
Taffeta, or Plain Weave, is used widely throughout the fashion industry. Taffeta is a strong, durable weave, but it can give consumers the impression of low quality, especially if there are large areas of the label in the same colour.
Satin weave creates a glossy surface and gives a perception of high quality, making it the perfect choice for evening wear and luxury linens. This label type is perfect for text-based logos and simple graphics, but because of how the threads fit together in a satin weave, it might not do justice to a complex high-definition logo.
Damask is your best bet if you’re trying to pack a lot of detail and colour into your label. Damask labels usually have a bulkier texture than satin or taffeta, so while it’s perfect for a neck label or even a hem tag, it might not be right for wash care and size labels.
With every woven label, there are two sides: the front face (the side the consumer is meant to see) and the back face (where any measy threadwork or bulky surplus thread is visible). The fold is how you hide the back face of a woven label.
To learn more about each of the folds above, take a look at our guide to label folds.
Designing a woven label is slightly more complicated than designing something for print or screen. When we weave your design, we have to translate every pixel of your image into something that a loom can create out of overlapping threads. A loom-ready design is a complex arrangement of warp and weft lines, all intercrossing at right angles to form the finished image.
You don’t need to send us weave-ready artwork. Jess, our fantastic in-house graphic designer, is an expert when it comes to converting pixels and vectors into weave-ready design files. If you’re concerned about how a label design will look and feel in woven form, just send us a file and we’ll ask Jess to take a look.
There are two main aspects to woven label design which you need to concern yourself with as a customer:
The size and shape of your label is very important, and it will vary depending on the label type. If you’re planning to border-stitch a very detailed branding label to the inside of a raincoat, for instance, you’ll probably want a damask weave and you’ll want something big and square, so that you capture all of the necessary details. If, on the other hand, you just want to add a wash care label to a kid’s t-shirt, then a small satin-woven loop fold label is going to be your best bet.
When deciding on your label dimensions, think about whether the label is brushing against skin, whether it ‘needs to be seen’ (like a retail or branding label), and how it is going to be secured to the garment (e.g. seam stitch or adhesive).
The sky is almost the limit with thread colours. You can have virtually any Pantone® thread you like (see our article on Pantones), but you need to bear in mind that you can’t fit thousands of those threads into a space that’s only a few inches square.
The cost of coloured thread varies, too, so while you can technically have any colour you like, global thread stock availability may force you to choose a similar shade, rather than an exact match (learn more here).
At GB Labels, we know that you have put a lot of thought into your colours, so we do everything in our power to colour-match your logo perfectly. If there’s a compromise that has to be made, we let you know up-front, and we always try to come up with alternatives that will ensure your design loses none of its vigour.
The tips outlined here should help you to make good decisions about the label you eventually choose, but don’t worry if you still have questions. We’re always willing to offer advice (even if it’s not your first label order!) — just pick up the phone or drop us a line and we’ll help you through the process.
Thanks for reading!