Choosing The Best Labels For Your Apparel Product

Labels create a first impression of your product and brand. Don’t leave labels as an afterthought, but instead take care designing your labels as you do with your garment. Choose the best type of labels for your apparel product based on the look, feel, and function of the overall design. 

Types of labels

There are different types of labels that vary in purpose, price, look, and longevity. I won’t go into all the possible options here, but let’s look at a few popular types.

Woven labels

These are more expensive labels made from weaving different colored threads into the shape of your text or logo. They are usually stitched down completely as the back side looks “messy” with the woven threads. 

You’ll see woven labels in higher-end garments like coats, jackets, lined dresses, dress trousers. Only the brand label and maybe the size label will be woven. You don’t see a woven care label very often.

Printed labels

Printed labels are more economical and work on many types of garments. The base label can be made from many different types of materials from woven satin to knit jersey to even plastic. Printed labels can hang free with sewing on just one end as the back is just the unprinted back side of the label. 

Care labels are almost always printed. Main and size labels can be printed as well for more casual or affordable garments. Softer garments (like a tee-shirt) will more likely have printed labels that better resemble the weight and stiffness of the garment fabric.

Heat set labels

Heat set labels are printed directly on the garment fabric itself. Any type of label can be heat set. You see heat set labels most often in athletic and casual garments. Sometimes all the label info from brand, size, to care, content, and COO are all heat set into the inside back neck or waistband of a garment. 

Heat set labels are smooth on the skin and don’t require any stitching, but they do tend to wear off over time. 

Choosing the best labels for your product

Once you know what information your labels need to include and have selected your label type, you can have fun with the design of the labels. Your choice of labels determines whether the customer will end up cutting out the labels right after they purchase, or whether they will enjoy the beautiful branding you’ve put together. No one likes a scratchy label or one that always sticks out of the garment when you wear it.

Consider the orientation and placement

Is your brand label horizontal or vertical? Horizontal labels might need to be sewn at both sides instead of along the top or into a seam if being sewn near a curved area like a neckline. Narrower, vertical labels are more easily sewn into a seam along their top edge regardless of placement, but hang freely and can twist or fold.

Match the fabric quality

A higher-end fabric and garment begs a higher-end label. Try to match the quality and weight of your fabric so your labels look like they belong. A flimsy label on a structured garment or a stiff label on a lightweight tee looks out of place and uncomfortable. Your labels create a first impression of what the customer can expect from the garment and quality.

Complement the garment purpose 

How will the garment be used? You’ll make very different choices labeling a sports bra versus labeling a wool coat. For the sports bra, you may opt for minimal labeling and focus on just the necessary information to eliminate any extra bulk or components. For the coat, it is a piece that will be worn for years and maybe even passed down. The labeling and branding should reflect the timeless look and longevity of the piece. Your labels are functional in both cases, but also part of the intentional design of your product.

Choosing labels is as much a design decision as a functional and branding one. The garment and the labels should work together to create a cohesive look and quality that feels as great as it looks.

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