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Made in Britain

September 8, 2020

Clothing Label Jargon: a guide to placements, weaves, folds and backings

By: Peter Gregory

Dashes Graphic

If you’re a hard working fashion startup with great designs, but you still don’t know the difference between a hem tag and a manhattan book fold, then this guide to clothing label jargon is just for you!

When you’re approaching big retailers and distributors with your products for the first time, you need to be ready to answer a lot of questions. You’ll usually get some questions about your manufacturing capacity, current sales volumes and so on, but you’ll also get some questions on the types of clothing labels you’re going to use. When it comes to explaining the labels on garments, it almost always boils down to four specific things: placement, weave, fold and backing

Woven Label Terminology

We took a look at our customer service archives and made a list of the most common questions our customers ask us about the label industry’s terminology. You can read the guide from start to finish, or just click on any of the links below to go straight to the relevant part:

Where your label’s attached
How the label looks and feels
1 – Neck Seam
2 – Side Seam
3 – Inner Pocket
4 – Sleeve Tag
5 – Damask
6 – Satin
7 – Taffeta
How the label is folded
How the label is attached
8 – Loop Fold
9 – Mitre Fold
10 – Border Label
11 – No Backing (Sewn)
12 – Adhesive Backing

Label Placement: where your label is attached

Where will you attach your clothing labels? You can stitch, tie or glue a woven label or swing ticket anywhere you like on a garment (you’re the designer so it’s 100% your choice), but don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. 

Over the years, the fashion and apparel industries have settled on a few popular industry-standard locations. The most popular options are probably the Neck Seam, Side Seam and Inner Pocket, but there are plenty of other great locations to choose from. Just ask us if you want to know more.

1 – Neck Seam Label

If you feel the back of your collar right now, you’ll probably find a neck seam label there. The go-to choice for t-shirts, dresses, jackets, jumpers and everything in between, a neck seam label is sewn into the middle of the neck seam of the garment. This ‘back of the neck’ position is the ideal placement for your brand, because it will be visible when the garment is hanging on a shop rack or in a consumer’s wardrobe. 

2 – Side Seam Label

Sometimes known as the hip seam label, the side seam label is stitched into the seam between the front and back of the garment, and you’ll find it in everything from formal shirts to denim jeans and work skirts. Labels placed at the side seam tend to be ‘functional’ labels (wash care labels, for example) that need to stay in place for the lifespan of the garment. 

3 – Inner Pocket 

Usually placed just below the mouth of the inner jacket pocket on suit jackets, coats and gilets, the inner pocket placement is a great location for a label. Usually reserved for branding labels that have been border-stitched, the inner pocket placement is seen by the wearer more frequently than the neck seam label, so it’s a good location for any reassuring signals of quality (if your product is handmade, if you’re using high-quality textiles or if your product is Made in Britain, you should mention it here). 

4 – Sleeve (Swing Tags)

Swing tickets usually either hang from the neck seam label or they get pinned to the sleeve of the garment. Sleeve tags are most often seen on sweaters, cardigans and suit jackets. They’re usually pinned in place, or looped through a buttonhole if one is available, so that they can be easily removed after the customer has bought the garment. 

Other Label Placements

Clothes move in a thousand directions at once when they’re being worn. From zipper pulls to shirt pockets, there are hundreds of other places where you can attach a label to an item of clothing, but you’ve got to pick materials that will stand up to any wear and tear that the label is going to experience. If you’ve got an idea for an unusual label placement, let us know what you’re planning. We can help you pick the right materials to suit the label placement.

Label Weave: how the label looks and feels

What’s the best weave pattern for your project? All of our woven labels are produced on state-of-the-art looms in South West Wales, and we like to think there’s no weave pattern we can’t handle. Having said that, clothing labels need to be durable and flexible — and they should never irritate the wearer — so there are three main weaves that 99% of our customers will stick to… 

5 – Damask

Damask is a great option if you want to fit more than two colours on your label. This weave allows for high-definition, versatile multicoloured patterns. Damask labels have a comfortable matte-effect texture, but they’re still flexible enough to work in just about any placement. Damask labels can be sewn or glued – the choice is yours.

6 – Satin

This weave is perfect for two-tone logos and wash care labels. Satin is the smoothest, softest weave, so it’s the best option for any close-to-the-skin label placements and luxury garments. Satin labels are almost always sewn in place. 

7 – Taffeta

The best way to describe a taffeta weave is to ask you to imagine a slightly chunkier, more pixelated damask label. Taffeta is perfect for recreating a retro 60’s look — it suits certain textiles better than the more modern industry-standard satin and damask weaves.

Fold: how the label is folded

We’ve got a whole article dedicated to label folds, so we won’t cover everything here. There are a few very popular label fold types that you’ll need to be aware of, however:

8 – Loop Fold

The loop fold is the most common label fold. It consists of a single rectangular label folded back on itself, with the ends usually stitched directly into the seam. Learn more here.

9 – Mitre Fold

This is the label you can hang your clothes from. The mitre fold is a thin strip of material, folded at right angles at the end to form a boxy ‘U’ shape similar to a staple. The ends of the mitre fold are almost always stitched into the neck seam. Learn More Here.

10 – Border Label

The border label has no fold. It’s pivot stitched and/or glued in place, and positioned flat to the fabric. Learn More Here.

Other Label Folds

The way you fold a label affects everything about how it’s used, from the tone you set with your brand, to the comfort of your wearer, to the way your garment moves when it’s worn. If you think you might need something other than a loop, mitre or border label, we can help you out. Just take a look at our complete guide to label folds and get in touch with us if you still can’t decide.

Backing: how the label is attached

If you’re attaching your label to the garment, there are three main ways to do this…

11 – No Backing (sew-on)

When you sew a label onto a piece of clothing, you either stitch it directly into the seam of the garment or you stitch it onto the face of the garment with what’s known as a pivot stitch. This kind of label doesn’t need a specialist backing, because the thread holds it in place. Labels that have been sewn on will last the test of time and keep your garment flexible and comfortable for the wearer. 

12 – Adhesive (Iron-on or Self Adhesive)

You can apply a glue to the back face of a woven label. If you need to stick a border label onto a hard-to-stitch area (the outside of a waterproof jacket or the inside of a leather handbag, for instance), then an adhesive backing is your best option. Bear in mind that adhesive backed labels don’t bend in the same fluid way that a stitched label will. The stiff glue makes the label slightly heavier and prone to wear and tear. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

This list isn’t comprehensive — there are hundreds of different combinations of placement, weave, fold and backing that you can do. Hopefully this article has at least given you a good introduction to the language of labels.

There’s a lot more that you will need to know when you’re ordering your labels — the size and the thread colour, for instance — but we’ll help you work this out when you’re ready to place your order. 

As a first step, we recommend you order a sample pack — we’ll send you out a handful of different label types so that you can see for yourself how each label type works and feel the different types of label in your own hands. Just fill in this form and we’ll get something in the post for you today!

Thanks for reading!

– Pete

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