Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hang Tag Gore - Levi's Denizen

Sometimes you run across something so awful it doesn't even warrant a review - this is one of those times. Although Levi's is a premium brand in most of the world, in its home country of the US of A, it somehow is one of the most mass market name brands in existence. I'm fairly certain I stumbled across this in a Walmart, and although I only present this one example here, there were countless variations for different denim products.

What's wrong you ask? For starters, why is everything shouting at me in bold face all caps text? Maybe it is because the product is so bland and generic it would be too easy to overlook. There is a way to do text heavy design, but this certainly isn't it. I mean just look at the feature list - "Classic and comfortable for all occasions." That's fight, these can be your fancy jeans as well as your comfy jeans as well as your work jeans, all in one pair! I don't know if this is an officially adopted maxim, but if your clothing gives you permission to wear it either up or down, it probably isn't acceptable to do either.

And what is up with Levi's destroying the registered trademark symbol? I first saw it on the Denizen line name, and figured it was a misprint, but then I noticed it was done the same on the Levi's wordmark! Holy hell, what are they thinking? Is it supposed to be edgy?

I'll also call attention to the model - first, nothing says "Dad jeans" like that guy with his button down sleeves rolled up but tucked into his non-belted jeans. It is also a bit of a Photoshop disaster - unless he is a Gears of War character there is something seriously wrong with his over-sized feet, and his legs are about 90% of his total body.

And to top it all off, this is the Hang Tag Blog, and while I sometimes drift into related fields, this is not a hang tag. It is instead affixed directly the pants with plastic rivets, meaning you either need careful work with scissors or you end up fraying the fabric before you put them on. I'll also ignore the ham fisted "Denizen" name, the use of rivets next to the word durable, or the fact that Levi's surface the "236" name so prominently. If I had to pick something I liked about this, it would be the way the "236 Regular Fit" is set off from the rest of the tag - the red box with both upper and lower margin lines is classic design and well executed. I like the way it isn't constrained by the margin of the rest of the text and spills into the product image.

Levi's, I don't know who thought this up, but please, no more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The HangTag Blog Awards: 2 in 10




Hello and welcome to the HangTagBlog Awards! This will be our second major awards presentation! In case you are unfamiliar, the award scheme is here. This will be a second 2 in 10 award, covering hangtags 21 through 40.

Although the posting schedule remains slow and somewhat varied, these entries are all at least from 2016, so a major improvement from the previous go around. Let's see who the nominees are this time:

#31 - Stoosh
#32 - Carter's Little Collections "Christmas Tree"
#33 - Carter's Little Collections "Wolf"
#34 - Harper
#35 - Michael Kors "Jet Set"
#36 - Joe B by Joe Benbasset
#37 - Summer Oasis
#38 - Cat and Jack
#39 - Star Wars "Union Suit"
#40 - Old Navy "Active"

Wow - when I first started looking over this post, I was worried that I would struggle to find any to award. When I compiled this list, though, I realized that the opposite is true. What a collection!

I ooh'd and aah'd over the super cute designs of the Carter's pair, especially in light of the fact that typically Carter's has terribly designed hang tags. I also praised the Harper tag for clean and simple design that spoke volumes about the product and set the tone perfectly. Summer Oasis scored points for being surprisingly coherent and complicated, and was likewise a clean and focused design. On top of that, the Cat and Jack set really caught my eye, and looked much more expensive than they should have.

Ultimately, both Cat and Jack and Summer Oasis are going to be the winners here. If you put the baby items next to each other, Carter's is relying heavily on one cute design element on an otherwise bland tag, while Cat and Jack is a really great, all encompassing design. Summer Oasis also bumps up next to Harper in a really direct way, and for my money the Harper hang tag is solid but can't quite hang with this crowd. Summer Oasis meanwhile, has a bright, intricate design that matches with the clothing, and also contained the stylish front back wrap around.

The Honorable Mention this 2 in 10 is definitely the Stoosh tag. One of my truest inspirations is Paul Lukas over at Uni-Watch, and his side project of Groom-it, and this hang tag contained a very nice implementation of the ubiquitous metal ring.

Monday, November 14, 2016

HangTag Review #40 - Old Navy "Active" HangTag

This hang tag is from discount brand Old Navy, and specifically their "Active" line. The tag is nearly black, with a yellow double line logo, and then OLD NAVY ACTIVE displayed beneath. There is also a half banner that says "Go Dry" and a short line about moisture wicking in two languages. The reverse is pretty spartan, with another product description of "BREATHABILITY" followed by a few words explaining, again in two languages. The rest is just the price sticker.

Well, Old Navy is a discount brand, so the hang tag expectation is a little lower, but this one is pretty rough. The paper is cheap, and while I think the tag is supposed to be black, its actually just a washed out sort of black-ish color. I'm also really not a fan of the completely forgettable and generic logo - I'm sure a design consultant can point to the fact that it looks like a runner with their arms raised in victory (as the Olympics does from time to time). I also wish that someone would have made an executive decision to not put "ACTIVE" in italics. We get it, italics convey motion, great.

I'm also going to hit this one with the Faux-French designation. First of all, I'm not entirely sure that those translations are anything more than machine translations (or bottom dollar service). I don't know French especially well but it looks suspect. Further, I'm not sure that Old Navy's (itself a Gap sub-brand) Active sub-brand really needs to have an air of French design or taste. We know you took a look at the latest Nike designs and reproduced them as cheaply as possible, we don't need french text.


This hangtag is about as generic as they come, and a miss in my book.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

HangTag Review #39 - Star Wars Union Suit

Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise has turned up the licensing machine full force, and in addition to a steady stream of new movies we are being treated to a near constant barrage of merchandise. This hang tag comes from one such item - a Chewbacca Union Suit.

First and foremost, it should be explained that a Union Suit is merely a descriptive term for a single undergarment that combines a shirt and a pair of pants. Think long johns or those pajamas that are in old cartoons with a snap up button panel. Do not think to search them on Google images without safe search on.

This one is designed to look like the character Chewbacca from Star Wars. Presumably one part Halloween costume, one party novelty item, this is a lowest common denominator item.

The front of the hang tag is straightforward - the top portion is a picture of Chewbacca pointing his signature crossbow at the camera. The bottom has the Star Wars wordmark in negative with the words UNION SUIT below and a red circle with an S and the label SMALL. This is really terrible in terms of hangtags. It does not seem terribly well through out and it fails to convey any real sense of design or effort.

The reverse is a tiny bit better. Instead of the photograph of the actual Chewbacca, there is an incredibly goofy illustration of a very doofy guy wearing the suit. Otherwise it is the same as the front.

I have a lot of problems with this tag. It is really low effort, all they did was put a picture on it with a brand wordmark and a descriptor. I like simplicity and clean designs, and this is simple but is not particularly clean. Simply throwing all your logos onto a card isn't design, its hitting a checklist.

I also think you need to either lean heavy into the illustration, or heavy into the actual movie license, but you can't put both on the same tag.

It is almost as though they know that these will not be purchased by true fans (who will go upmarket) but instead by someone's distant relative who is a bit out of touch but will say "Oh, didn't he used to love those space movies?" If anything, I imagine most of these end up as gag gifts, purchased for drinking-holiday parties or as a good natured goof for a spouse.

I had some excitement about a Disney branded tag, but so far this and the children's one I reviewed here have both fallen incredibly flat.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

HangTag Review #38 - Cat and Jack Double Set

Check out this nice find in the children's section for Cat and Jack. The main front tag is a pale blue (perhaps a "Baby Blue?") with the Cat and Jack script wordmark in red. The reverse of that tag has the same color scheme in stripes, along with the retailer information.

The feature tag is an eggshell color with the words "MADE FOR PLAYING, DRESSING UP & ADVENTURING." in the same red as the main wordmark. Underneath is says "SKINNY" which I believe is a fit designation. This tag has the pale blue on the reverse with more retailer information.
The main tag, however, has a small detail that I find really great - the gift receipt isn't cut straight across, but instead in triangle fringe. There are plenty of hang tags in unique shapes, but this one is so unexpected that it stands out. The gift receipt tear away is theoretically functional, as ideally this piece is removed before giving the item as a gift. In this case, that piece would leave simply a straight edge (or a sloppy perforation). The design is nice too. When the tag is hung vertically, it looks like a banner. The reverse colors also convey a real sense of Dr. Suess whimsy. All in all, this is a quality tag.



The second tag is nice as well. I'm referring to it as a feature tag but that isn't entirely accurate, as it refers to the second item in a set. The color scheme is excellent, if a little bit predictable. The "playing, dressing up and adventuring" word choice is simple and obvious, but the layout is nice. I'm surprisingly impressed with using the waves as a horizontal rule, as it plays into the "adventure" idea and lends the tag some cohesiveness.

I'm really against the idea of putting body size labels on clothing aimed at children, but I think the Skinny designation here really refers to the overall cut of the pants. Even then I think this is a miss for the design as its purely marketing. Toddler clothes are made as they are, "skinny" vs "relaxed" likely makes no appreciable difference. Thus, this word was placed to catch the eye of Mom while picking these out.

A quality effort and a solid example in my book.




Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hang Tag Review #37 - Summer Oasis

I've previously written about Target's Xhiliration House Brand, but this one is a sub brand (or maybe a collection is what Target wants you to call it) of Xhiliration. It is on their website here. The front has the name of the collection and the year, flanked by colorful flowery designs. The reverse has the full pattern.

If it isn't clear already, I like this hang tag. A lot. The front is excellent, simple and clean. It very clearly states the collection name, and gives a date for reference. Adding the date adds a bit of exclusivity and rarity, which is enjoyable. It avoid becoming pretentious, however, by not adding a YoungEST or other silly 'classic' elements.

I also find the way the pattern wraps around to the front of the tag to be really nice. I like the colors and design, and the way it sits on the solid black is nice. One of my favorite parts, however, is the way the hang tag design so clearly complements the actual clothing patterns as well. If you review the Target website, you can see that the same pattern is used on this dress.


This all should be taken with a bit of a caveat, however, as the only reason this tag looks so clean is because it is on the same hanger as the house brand tag. If it were by itself, it would almost certainly  add in some extra information that would clutter and take away from the overall appearance. Still, this is a great find and surprise for a Target brand hang tag.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hang Tag Review #36 - Joe B by Joe Benbasset Hang Tag

Today's hang tag is from the junior brand Joe B by Joe Benbasset. This tag hangs vertically although the text is all horizontal. The front has the JOE B sub brand set just above (and slightly offset) from the by JOE BENBASSET brand name. The tag is a stark white on thick paperboard. It is very similar to the Calvin Klein Jeans tag reviewed some years ago.

The reverse is similarly minimalist. It contains the full www.name.com webaddress, with icons for a few key social networking sites (namely, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). And that's it!

Fear not, though - just because this hang tag is minimalist in design, it does not mean that there is not a lot to talk about. On the front, there is a lot of text and layout work. First of all, we see the JOE B sub brand in all caps, with the B in boldface. It is large, and dominates the front of the hang tag. Underneath, the main brand is handled almost like an attribution notice. JOE BENBASSET is all in caps, however the "by" is all lowercase. One not need to think hard about what is important here, and where the emphasis lies.

Although I personally dislike the awful amount of sub-branding that goes on, I do think the way the front of this tag is laid out is strong. There is just enough movement and variation going on to make it memorable.

The reverse is really terrible. I'll actually allow a pass on the full www.name.com since it is not at all clear from the front what the web address would be, and the trailing social media icons give the leading www. some visual balance. That cannot save the utterly bizarre and thoughtless inclusion of the icons for the social media websites. It is a hang tag - you cannot click on the facebook, instagram, or pinterest icons and go straight to the pages or follow! You still need to load up your browser or smart phone and look them each up individually! Why have the icons? Are they not on the web site that already contains a full address?

The use of app icons on printed materials is always a risky choice. Done right and you have communicated a modern and forward thinking product, but done wrong and it looks out of touch and unnecessary. That is the case here.  Furthermore, Instagram recently updated its app icon, and as such the button on this hang tag is no longer relevant.

The front of this hang tag doesn't really set me aflame, but it at least is interesting and has some design elements. The reverse, however, just doesn't work or make sense in any light.