How to order labels pt.1

The topic of labels is so basic that it’s one of those things that I keep forgetting to write about. Toward that end, I’m working with Laven Industries, a label manufacturer in Canada to write a basic primer on how designers should design and order labels. Actually, the contribution from Laven may be better described as coercion on my part because Laven wants to advertise on this site and I said okay (they came highly recommended from several of you and they ship to the states) but I stipulated that they had to provide educational services to my visitors on how to buy labels (no wonder I have few advertisers). Anyway, Lee Laven enthusiastically agreed so I’d also assume he has a sense of humor. Miracle (my co-blogger) also contributed to this material. You should read her post on Good Logo Design before this one.

If you’re buying labels for the first time you have to answer a few simple questions:

1. What type of garment/product do you make? Is it high end, low end, basic t-shirts, hang bags, sportswear, etc. In other words, do you need printed or woven labels or another kind entirely?

Woven labels are used in higher end, most designer lines use these. There are various types of weaves, satin, taffeta and damask. Damask is the higher end label and it’s softer. Most label companies charge based on the weave. However, Laven’s price on the damask, satin and taffeta are the same so it makes more sense to go with the higher end label. You can compare the value of that by reading this price comparison chart between label weaves.


Printed labels are usually used on lower end garments such as t-shirts or on the inside of garments. But still, printed labels can be very nice on the high end satin.

Care/content and size labels are needed by most manufacturers. In fact, this is a good time to consider whether you should have an RN number if you don’t already have one. If so, you may want your RN placed on your care and content labels. If you’re new to these parts and you’re not sure you know what I’m talking about, The legalities of labeling will explain everything. The direct link to apply for an RN is here and also in the left side bar.

Specialty labels are another option. Depending on your product, you may need a specialty label such as PVC, heat transfers (label less) or those made of leather or suede. Laven labels also makes these kind of labels, most houses do. Miracle says that thermal printed labels are an inexpensive way to print content/care/size labels, or even logo labels for inexpensive items. She’s says she’s paid as little as $20-30 per 1,000, depending on the size of the label.

Label Design
Once you’ve determined which kind you need, you need to consider label design. To see a spec sheet of all the parameters, click here (pdf). This is what we’ll be using to explain the different ideas you’ll consider. First, where are you sewing this label? At the top of the label and into a seam? At the sides or all around? Is it folded? You’ll have to consider 4 things, size, orientation, sewing instructions and processing.

1. What is the size and style of label? Standard is roughly 1 x 2 but depends on what you want on your label or what type of garment or where it’s going on the garment.

2. What is the orientation of the design?

3. How it will be attached to the garment; this is described as sewing instructions:

4. What is the desired processing or finish of the label? It can be cut to size (as a very soft woven) or if sewing around on all sides, it’s usually end folded for softer edge on the skin. If the sewing is at the top, the label is looped or center folded so it’s softer on the bottom.

In case you’re someone who does not worry about the processing of label finish, I would also like to mention that many consumers have problems with labels. It’s estimated that 10% of the population has dyspraxia and they hate labels. People with autism or sensory disintegration also have a lot of problems with labels. To many of us, a label riding at the back neck doesn’t feel much different than having a razor blade sewn in back there. That said, I agree that people can remove labels on their own. Still, I’ve often regretted needing to remove a label because it became less likely I’d remember who’d made the style and if I liked the garment, I would have been inclined to seek other products from that company. If the label is gone, I can’t. I don’t know the easy solution to this problem. Some people can use tagless labeling (heat transfer) but I think many can’t, not when you consider image or the product itself. The label problem is one I have not resolved with regard to my own line. Miracle mentions that she knows of several bridge lines who are using tagless labels. I’d like to see how they make that work.

I’ll post the rest of this tomorrow. I still have another post to write for today (reverse engineering pt 8…thrills and chills!). In the meantime, please feel free to solicit quotes and advice from our newest advertiser, Laven Labels. Lee says you can too.

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