Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TheHangTagBlog Year End Awards

Yes, even here at TheHangTagBlog we have a year end awards list. For our first year the selection is limited, so we will simply feature our top three hang tags for 2013.

Third Runner-Up: Calvin Klein Jeans Hang Tag

This wasn't my favorite hang tag this year by far, and I knocked it for the poorly implemented web address. However, the otherwise clean and simple design shows well, and is smartly executed. This hang tag also deserves praise for the quality materials used in its construction.

Second Runner-Up: Under Armour Cold Black "Fold Out" Hang Tag

This hang tag rated highly on several design counts.I especially praised the miniature vignette on the front, which worked well from a visual design standpoint as well as the product feature and marketing standpoint. The use of grey scale was also expert. There was a lot of design in this one, but also some constraint. Small points off for the repetitive feature list on the interior, as well as the somewhat boring reverse, but otherwise a favorite of mine this year.




Grand Prize for Achievement in Hang Tag Design: Izod Varsity Fleece Hang Tag


This was, far and away, my favorite this year. Strong, clean lines, clear branding, and restrained design. There are no gimmicks here, just a hang tag befitting a much more expensive product. The two tone red detailing garnered rave reviews, as did the placement of the text and the logo. Even the punch out hole for the zip tie was seemingly well thought out. When my major gripes are that the retailer price sticker covers too much of the hang tag, you know you are on to something.







And that concludes this year's awards list. Congratulations to all the winners, who win absolutely nothing but my accolades! Still, by my count this is the world's premier source of hang tag design and commentary, so that really means these are the highest awarded designs for 2013.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Under Armour Cold Black “Fold Out” Hang Tag

 This hang tag from sportswear maker Under Armour has a sharp front. Check out the way the varied greys form a horizon, with a sun flair coming over it. The sun is casting light on the Cold Black word mark, which leaves a shadow in front. This serves two purposes: it gives the hang tag some great depth, and additionally it plays on the “black out the sun” tagline below. Very rarely is such an interesting scene set on a hang tag. Furthermore, the greyscale is nicely implemented.

The inside of the fold out gives the product information. Under Armour believes this coldblack technology to be worth explaining, and does so. The use of greys is consistent with the front, although the white text over a fading background has varying levels of readability.

The inside features two pages, both French and English. Surely a cost-saving measure first and foremost, as otherwise the repeated language is a waste of space.

The reverse is more standard UA fare. The extra dark black stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the tag. Also, the deep blue size information just adds to the overall gloominess. The yellow “UA RUNNING” sticker on the, while out of place, at least is in the same area of the color sphere.

The front of this tag is exceptional, and truly a favorite. The level of design and attention to detail are more than enough to make up for a somewhat lackluster reverse side. Bravo to whomever drew this one up.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Estate Polo Booklet Hang Tag


This is an interesting hang tag. ‘Estate’ is a discount label selling at Macy’s, and they offer a pretty good  variety of hang tags. This one here is for a polo shirt. It is a booklet style hang tag. The front is a dark blue with gold lettering. This hang tag mimes Polo Ralph Lauren’s use of “The” as an authoritative identifier. The use of estate is certainly a classy touch, but it adds a layer of ambiguity. Is this an “estate” polo that has been with the family for generations? Is it meant to be worn to a residence that is categorizes as an “estate?” Is it like fine wine?

While the use of estate is unclear the indented perception is not. The laurel wreath and shield in gold foil, the deep blue back ground, and the gold lettering all imply old money, high society fashion.


The front folds open to reveal a solid blue reverse, and the underlying page is a traditional feature tag. The symbols used are the same as on this Greg Norman one, except that the sun is slightly different (I actually prefer the abstracted rays on this one).
The feature tag is the same on both sides, and as such only one is reproduced here. The inverse coloring is consistent to the front, but does not carry the same panache. Also, is the white lettering at the bottom in negative, or is it the blue symbols at the top? Impossible to tell.

The funny ambiguities in this hang tag are either sloppy work, or smartly subversive. I’m going with the former, based on the similarities between this discount brand and other tags featured here. One thing that really bugs me is the mismatched fonts used in the feature titles and the rest of the tag. I like the serif font much more in this application.




I’m also not a huge fan of the odd “booklet” design. Why have a “peek-under” feature tag if the front and reverse are going to be identical, and the reverse of the top layer is blank? There is essentially two pages of information, conveyed in four.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Victoria’s Secret Pink Hang Tag



This is another simple hang tag, from Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line. The front is fairly simple and straightforward, just the outline letters in Victoria’s Secret pink. All the text is stacked at the bottom, leaving a lot of empty space at the top.

The reverse is incredibly bleak. Most of the numbers and text are completely unintelligible to the average consumer. Even the sizing information is not very clear, with a simple S and P. The only thing that is clear, however, is the price.


This hang tag is fine in and of itself, but it does not fit the product at all. Lingerie, and especially fancy, expensive lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, is supposed to be of the highest class and quality. This hang tag is workmanlike and cheap. Furthermore, underwear from Victoria’s Secret is generally impractical for everyday situations, instead it usually is a luxury item bought for a special occasion. This hang tag is the exact opposite.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Greg Norman for Tasso Elba “Slim Fit” Hang Tag

This hang tag is for Greg Norman’s line of golf clothes, specifically a slim fit polo. This tag has some bright, catchy colors. First and foremost is the almost neon lime green. Neon has been making a comeback in athletic wear, most famously the Nike neon yellow that adorned their London Olympic shoes. Greg Norman’s use of green capitalizes on that trend, stands out to the consumer, and uses a color that relates well to golf.

Norman also has the benefit of the well establish shark logo, made from a line drawing of various neons. This is a traditional treatment of this logo, appearing on Greg Norman’s wine bottles. Although sometimes done in white, here it stands out in the neons.

The colors are important. “Shark” and “Greg Norman” well overpower the Tasso Elba brand. Tasso Elba, in fact, appears as simply a sewing company underneath the bold, bright Norman marks. Also, the shimmery gold fades quickly under the primary neon colors of the rest of the hang tag.

Play Dry, presumably another moisture wicking technology after Under Armour, appears as well. The reverse tells us that Play Dry is a trademark of Reebok. Thus, we see Play Dry, Reebok, Shark, Greg Norman, Tasso Elba, and the Shark logo as competing brands, all on one hang tag.

The reverse contains the aforementioned trademark information, as well as the currently popular “feature icons” in wide use in the industry. Oddly enough, “Easy Care” shows a washing machine. If “machine washable” counts of “easy care” in athletic wear these days, one must wonder how professionals stay outfitted.

The UPF information under the sun is a sticker. It may not be easily visible in the attached photos. The somewhat generic “excellent UV protection” language lead me to believe that it used to contain stronger language, and after complaints about deceptive advertising, it was hastily covered with the sticker. I was surprised, however, when I removed it and found it blank. It must have been instead for the easy change out if some items are UPF 30 or other designations.

This hang tag also contains a false booklet effect. The green “slim fit” appears to be a second piece of cardboard, but instead it is simply a different color.



I generally like the colors and layout of this hang tag, but it is overall very busy. Probably too much so. Also, the excessive piling on of trademarks and brands dilutes the product. Is it Reebok quality? Is it famous golfer Greg Norman? Is it Tasso Elba? Who knows? I’m also not a fan of the feature icons, but that is less offensive. What I do like, however, is the faux booklet style. Well executed and a stylish touch.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vera Bradley Grand Traveler Hang Tag

This hang tag is from a Vera Bradley bag. Although apparel is probably the most common use, hang tags appear on all sorts of products. Purses, bags, and handbags are closely related to apparel anyways.

This one comes from a “Grant Traveler” bag. The front is a matte green, with the brand name in flowing cursive. Vera Bradley is known for its bright, colorful prints, and the stores are awash in sunny pastels. Thus, the single tone hang tag is somewhat incongruous. The cursive is well executed. It is flowing and full of flourish, which calls to mind letters written by well-heeled ladies, exactly the clientele that Vera Bradley markets too.

The reverse is plain as well. The product name leads, but almost more important for a Vera Bradley is the “pattern” name. Here we have Boysenberry. The names of the patterns deserve their own column, surely, but in this context they can be understood as tangentially descriptive. Still, Vera Bradley has done a good job of setting up both a “buy the matching set” and a “collect them all” approach to their color schemes.



I like this tag. It is unexpected, as high end luxury goods often spawn the overdone, unnecessary hang tags. Here, Vera Bradley is understated, with simple elegancy. I also appreciate the somewhat stark, but entirely practical, reverse side. The only issue I have with this type of a hang tag is that on larger items (such as luggage pieces) it has the potential to easily be lost in the folds. In a store that sells Vera Bradley exclusively, this is fine, but anywhere else it becomes problematic. Also, for the dedicated gift buyer, these small hang tags can easily become a nightmare. Nonetheless, this is overall a nicely done hang tag.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nautica Jeans “Fauxback” Hang Tag

This is a hang tag by Nautica Jeans company, which normally appears on jeans. This is an example of a purely decorative hang tag. It offers no information about the product, the company that produced it, or anything else of use to the shopper.

What it does say, albeit in a roundabout way, is that these are an expensive pair of pants. A frivolous tag is an expense in and of itself, plus this one is printed on then, woven cloth. It was attached to the jeans with a thick braided cord.

As for the design, it is two tone, featured a deep navy blue printed on an odd golden color. The printing is deliberately distressed. The distressing on the front is less appealing as it is obviously overdone. On the reverse, however, I kind of like the ways some of the letters and numbers are illegible.

I like less the “surplus” style design. I think it is overdone and out of place here. A company that was founded in 1999 would never have used a tag such as this, unless it was created specifically as a “fauxback.”

Hang tags such as this are tough. Unlike most hang tags, which deliciously blend utilitarian and artistic elements, this hang tag has no such constraints. Thus, it loses a lot of appeal to me. On the other hand, I must admit that the design and execution are nice.


Where this one really loses me is that it is so unauthentic. This is an example of a company trying to be something it is not, and that is somewhat unforgivable

.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Xhilaration Hang Tag

Xhilaration is Target’s house brand that they slap on everything from swimsuits to lamps. It seems to be aimed squarely at the female from 18-24 set, as the items are mostly trendy clothing pieces and dorm-chic furniture. Eiffel Tower desk lamp? Xhilaration. Faux vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Tee? Xhilaration.

Marketing commentary aside, this hang tag takes the same shape as the Calvin Klein Jeans one from earlier. It is long and hangs vertically. The front is mostly pink, a bright background shade with a slightly darker filigree design. The design is nice. It is actually subtle and tasteful, unlike many of the products it adorns.

The text is interesting as well. All lower case, but the font is a spectacularly poor choice. The letters are all drawn loopily and occasionally connected. However, the most prominent letter, the first, consists of stark straight lines. It does not connect, and in fact is the only thing set at 45 degrees on the entire hang tag.

There is also a balance issue on the front, with both the wordmark and the filigree design occupying the bottom portion. Thus, the top is a naked flat pink. This may have worked if the hanging hole was centered, but off to the side, it just lacks balance.

The reverse is an absolute mess. We start with a horrific use of a QR Code. Why include one at all? The front uses consistently soft lines, the back is a high contrast machine readable code. Below it is obnoxious ad copy, which includes a second facebook web address. The icing on the cake is the final line, however, which explains that if you do not have a scanner capable of reading the QR code, you can download the Target app, which has one. It is mind boggling that Target would need three overlapping ways to get you to visit their facebook page.

The bar code and sizing information section is nicely done. It all fits in a compact space, and is generally readable.  It is a rare bright spot, however, as the reverse contains an additional sticker space, presumably for discounts.

It should be obvious from the above, but I’m not a fan of this hang tag. While the thought is there, it was clearly overrun by the need to throw in as many references to social media as possible. This hang tag is selling Target’s facebook page more than its clothing, and that is a shame. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nordstrom “Blank” Hang Tag


This hang tag is from Nordstrom Rack, the high end retailer’s budget concept. This tag is practical above all else. A style number, a color, a size, a barcode, and a price. A scientist cataloging dinosaur bones might appreciate it, but it looks out of place on fashion racks. Even the font lacks any sort of embellishment.

The reverse is entirely blank. It does leave plenty of space for multiple label stickers, which may be a practical step as a discount store. Each time there is a new sale price, there is plenty of space to add the markdown and leave the original to allow consumers to see their savings.



I just wanted to post this one for something a little bit different.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lazy One Boxers Hang Tag

This Lazy One hang tag uses some dull colors, but a very large font. Simple and clean, the brand is in clear display. The letter stack is visually interesting, and clearly has some irreverence. The font underlines the “A,” possibly to maintain the visual line across the bottom of “Lazy.” “One” is written in a green font that fades into the background.

The reverse has a full web address, including a “www” and a “dot com.” Two retailer stickers adorn the reverse. The name should reinforce that this company isn't as self-serious as Polo or Hilfiger.


This tag is bland and leaves no real lasting impression. The name is funny, but otherwise the dark, muted colors fade away into the background noise.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Love Fire Clothing Butterfly Hang Tag

This hang tag from Love Fire Clothing looks like it cost a pretty penny to print. The front and reverse are not clear here, but taking the blue side, we see a dandelion wispy-ing its seeds away. The powder blue, combined with the seeds, is incredibly light, feminine, and ephemeral.  The name is thoughtfully designed as well, with “love” in lowercase script, and the hint of a comma, separating it from FIRE done in block doodles. The heart over the “i” stands out in contrast pink, and also because it technically makes the only lowercase in the word. The text looks like a day-dreamy-doodle on a textbook, which fits perfectly with the dandelions floating away on the wind.

On the reverse, the wording is identical, but the proportions and layout are changed. The comma after love makes this read as a salutation, interestingly enough. The butterflies and wildflower are fitting, the barn wood is predictable and expected. The model is interesting in that she is not really modeling the clothes, which ostensibly are what this hang tag sells. Instead, the jewelry is the only piece of her look that we really can see. There is a bit of graininess to this side as well. The carefree hippie ideal walks very closely to hipster on this side.

Similar to Izod, I really like one side of this hang tag, and am disappointed by the other. The blue side is nicely done; it captures an emotion in an authentic way. The reverse, however, just beats you over the head with it. I am also not a fan of the contrast between the two sides. The blue side is subtle, and monotone, the reverse is simply a Photoshop job. I also revolt at any objects being used out of context to prove a point as the butterflies look like they are crawling on the wood, but are clearly out of scale to everything else, including the flower.


I think this is also a great example of a necessary web address. I would have never guessed that without it being printed.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Izod Varsity Fleece Hang Tag

This tag features a strong red, a strong negative font, and a strong glossy embellishment on the front. It is clear, clean, and definitely has a straightforward approach. The reds complement each other nicely. The detail also provides a nice visual center, and gives the hanging hole a sense of place. It takes the hole into an integral design feature, rather than a blemish. It also informs the positioning of Izod. A short word can be tough to fit without becoming overpowering; the glossy detail gives balance and direction.

The reverse incorporates the same elements, but not nearly as well. The same glossy bar runs through the middle, however the retailer sticker covers it. The alignment corners indicate that this is intentional. There is the overlapped IZ mark, well fit into the space, making use of both the stripe and the area between the retailer tag and the hanging hole. The abbreviated web address at the bottom is neither offensive nor inoffensive, it just is.

This tag features the variation between the horizontal orientation on the front with the vertical orientation on the reverse. Both are thoughtfully done, the front is just executed better.

I think this hang tag is fantastic. The front is masterfully done. I also think it looks decidedly masculine, especially evident whencompared to this Calvin Klein Jeans hang tag. Whereas the Calving Klein hang tag is sipping a martini in a trendy NYC bar, this Izod hang tag is barbecuing

on Martha’s Vineyard. Both are drinking expensive alcohol and surrounded by beautiful women, they are just going about it differently.

The reverse is unfortunate, because it is a great design and thought, just crushed by the overwhelming retailer sticker. I think either continuing the line detail all the way to the end of the hang tag, or terminating it earlier so none showed through, would both be acceptable solutions.


I also think that in our modern times, if you web address is simply your company name with a dot com slapped on the end, you do not need to list your web address.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Calvin Klein Jeans Hang Tag

Simple is the name of the game here. Pure white card stock, with a plain black font. Same on the front and the reverse. Three words and a web address. Clean and clear.

The naming is interesting. Calvin Klein Jeans is used as a brand identifier, instead of as a product name. The unique top level domain name supports this as well.



I like the clean lines and simplicity of this hang tag. I also can see a benefit in a hang tag with no front or back. Anyway this hangs will show well. On the other hand, I think the web address shows poorly.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tommy Hilfiger Aqua Water Polo

Another luxury brand, this Tommy Hilfiger tag emphasizes brand over product. The front shows the name and logo on a dark background. It is simple and indicates that all you need to see is the brand name and the product. No other convincing necessary.

The reverse repeats the flag mark, but only adds the abbreviated web address. There is quite a bit of identifying information, including gender, a product number, the color (is Aqua Water in two languages, or redundant, or are they using Aqua as a shade of blue and Water as a shade of something else?), the line (Sum Basics), a bar code, and finally sizing. It is a lot of information conveyed in a workmanlike manner.

I am actually a fan of some of the irreverence of this tag. The reverse, especially, with its “Sum Basics” moniker, is a phenomenal piece of poetry in my mind. I also like the abbreviated “Tommy.com” web address, and the somewhat ridiculous Aqua Water coloring. The size label is cheap and out of place (this is something you expect when picking through the bargain racks), but overall, I feel like they know what a fashion design house is expected to do and executed on it, but along the way poked fun at the institution.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hang Tag Review # 3 - Polo Ralph Lauren Weathered Mesh Shirt


Even famous design houses like Polo Ralph Lauren have to sell products, and that means hang tags. These tags don’t have a single direction, as the front runs left to right, while the back runs top to bottom.

On the front, we see a blue and gold color scheme that is surprisingly similar to other brands. The font choice is a good one, bold and with a definite character. Polo uses its full name here, as well as the horse and rider design. The product name is on trend, adding the unnecessary article for emphasis (watch any NFL game and at least one player will introduce his alma mater as “THE Miami U”). The rest of the name, however, is a series of descriptives (“shirt” being the article of clothing, “mesh” being the construction, and “weathered” the detailing). The combination is ultra-luxury, as though Ralph Lauren creates the definitive article by which all others are measured.

The reverse is has a lengthy product description. While the tone and text are aimed at conveying expense (it reads like wine tasting notes), it also cheapens the product. If this is “the” definitional product, why do you need to spend so much time explaining it?

I rate the front of this tag highly (I really like the font) but the reverse is less pleasing.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hang Tag Review #2 - Maidenform Hipster Hang Tag

This lingerie tag is bright and clearly demonstrates the product. What is odd is why this tag, which folds over the product, would also need to a photo of the product. Perhaps it has to do with making underwear look attractive, even lacy pieces such as this are not necessarily appealing when hanging on a store rack.
There is a definite reference to Victoria’s Secret as well with the dark and light pink vertical striping.

Other than the photo and VS reference, the tag contains two clear sizing labels. The front one is in highliter yellow, the second on the top fold of the tag which is presumably useful for picking through racks. Interestingly, the identifying product information is arranged differently on the front and back. On the front, there is one line with a / separating numbers and letters, on the back they are on separate lines, and further separated by another set of numbers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hang Tag Review #1 - Life is Good Hang Tag



This hang tag is interesting. It has a few contradictions. It has an irregular shape, a circle with its outline interrupted by the outstretched hands of the kid. The character on the tag has a wide smile that dominates his face. Even his left hand has fingers splayed. These all seem to point towards a fun, carefree, irreverent attitude. Other elements, however, are somewhat conflicting. First and foremost, larger than any branding or identifying marks, is the message “Your purchase helps kids in need.” And while I like the deep, rich colors, they are surprisingly serious given the tone of the rest of the tag. One would expect bright colors instead of the dark forest green and navy blue that dominate. Even the yellow accents are heavily saturated. Perhaps it is because that while a noble goal, helping kids in need implies that there are needy children, not necessarily an inducement of optimism.

The reverse is a bit more typical and expected. The trademark appears largely on the top, and the motto is featured on the bottom. The arcing nature of both serves to keep the words flowing with the outline of the overall tag, and also provide plenty of space for the price sticker.


Overall, I like this tag. It is interesting in that it is less of a product billboard and more of a simple statement of purpose. This is clearly a company that is selling an idea, the individual products are not the focus. Similar to when car companies give they models indistinct names to promote focus on the brand (see BMW with its 3, 5, and 7 series models). I also enjoy that the character is wearing a beret, and small detail that is well executed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

UA Antler Logo Hang Tag




This hang tag has a logo of the standard UA interlocking logo into a pair of antlers for the hunting line. It uses bold red colors on a dark background, except for the blue outline on the Coldgear term. The front makes use of the UA as antlers, UA written out as letters, Under Armour as a wordmark, and finally the Underarmour.com web address. The reverse has a UA circle logo, and a UA recycle logo as well. The trademarks are strong with this one.

The Coldgear mark is outlined in the descriptive blue color. Oddly, however, it has a tag line immediately underneath. It seems unusual to put a tag line on a hang tag, as well as the mark itself, but that is what Under Armour has done here.
The reverse has an Under Armour seal logo, and what appears to be a large space for individual stores to add price stickers.

This is my favorite hang tag.