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 write him directly too.

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  1. Mike C says:

    We’ve worked with Laven on nylon size/content labels. They have fair pricing, do good work, and are quick.

    They are also able to work through email, which is still surprisingly uncommon in this industry.

  2. Josh says:

    I will def go with Laven when I get my labels printed up! And a big thank you to Laven Labels for supporting this site.

  3. Kathleen says:

    The price sheet I linked to wasn’t Laven’s. Laven’s are lower. I would have linked to Laven instead but they don’t have that up. Tomorrow, I will be publishing their prices in the post.

  4. Big Irv says:

    I know alot of you are going to check out Laven’s website and you will see that he also does other trims too. Including heat transfers. Yeah, I know, those nasty little things that peel, discolor, crack etc.. I too, was skeptical when a client asked me to embellish a nylon
    rashguard with 20 % Lycra content. This is one area which has caused me anguish in the past. Screenprinting or heat transfering onto nylon/lycra.
    I was very pleased to find that Laven’s transfers not only stood up to my clients rigorous testing, but mine as well. I tested 4 different swatches by cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen, inside of my car, and after each chore, I washed them out, and put them through a high heat cycle in the dryer.
    The results were thoroughly impressive. I know 2 screenprinters who bought heat transfer machines in the past month because of the Laven transfers.
    The effect is startling. They are being put on a highend mixed martial arts compression top and shorts used by UFC fighters.
    Laven also understands the importance of quick customer service. I have been delayed many times by bigger US label companies that take weeks to send product. No kidding.

  5. another wish says:

    same here. i am about to order a new round of labels and really wanted to change vendors. as always, kathleen, you have impeccable timing! ;o)

  6. Miracle says:

    Miracle mentions that she knows of several bridge lines who are using tagless labels. I’d like to see how they make that work.

    They are edgy contemporary lines. No, not WOATs and GOATS, but actual real garments. I will see if they want me to name names. I cannot tell if the tagless labels are screenprinted or are screenprinted transfers. And it’s fair to mention that they have really nice hangtags, that are attached with such… creative attachers that they are unlikely to be removed from the garment, so it’s part of the whole “look” of the line.

  7. christy fisher says:

    I have seen a few companies using tagless as well.
    Some are sublimated into the fabric (another heatpress process for certain fibers)..the others are like a T shirt transfer.
    I also remember a line called “Save the Queen” (which I love) that has a ribbon with a charm attached that has their logo on it (looks kind of like a fishing weight, or one of those inhouse markers that some couture houses in Europe use to distinguish their samples). The ribbon is usually sewn into the neckline binding and is meant to be worn outside the garment, dangling down.

  8. Monica Pfeiffer says:

    I always hate large or heavy labels at the back of the neck in garments. Makes that area stiff and it lays funny on the body. I put labels on the inside of the lapped facing on button-down garments, and on the side seam with the care labels on other garments. For back-zipper garments, a label at the back neck isn’t such a problem because they can be sewn flat.

  9. Crystal says:

    Thanks for the resource! I had just re-ordered my labels when I found your post, but I’m glad to be able to get a quote from another company. Mine take 8 weeks to get here, even with repeat orders. Looking forward to the follow-up post.

  10. Lee McLaevn says:

    Please keep in mind that our new high definition labels are very soft!!! We run it for the major baby clothing manufacturs. The other options as above is the heat transfer – it costs more, but if that is the look you are going for and in your budget, then it works!

  11. Bebe says:

    “Tagless” is increasingly being used as the labeling method of choice across all categories in my world. Just as in the “woven label” world, mistakes happen. Any recommendations on removing all or part of a heat transfer (tagless) label and applying a “correction”? Garment (top) in question is 100% cotton jersey. Adding a “half moon” to cover, is not an option.

  12. Paul Villforth says:

    I have some Levi cotton undershirts and the tagless labels are coming off after 6 washings in warm water w/o bleach.
    I also didn’t realize there were people that had such a problem with labels. Is the typical location the problem like the shirt collar? If this is the problem the large product label could be relocated.

  13. Beth says:

    Smart move on your part, Kathleen. It may seem basic, but you’re also right in that it’s something a lot of people overlook at first or give short thrift to. That said, even custom clothing labels don’t have to cost a ton. Amateurs and professional designers alike can take advantage of clothing label makers.

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