Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hang Tag Review #27 - Calvin Klein Jeans

Today we have a special entry, the 2015 update of our 2013 Third Runner-Up award winner, the Calvin Klein Jeans hang tag. In that version, I praised the clean design and the smart implementation of a long, narrow hang tag that would display nicely. I also commented on the thick card stock used in the production of the tag.

This year's version makes some updates while carrying forward the tradition of quality materials. The front has been changed from white to a cream, which looks and feels expensive. There is definite heft in your hands, and the stamped "Calvin Klein Jeans" at the bottom give it visual depth. You can run your fingers over the lettering and feel the depth.

The size has changed, this now resembles a standard rectangular hang tag.

The reverse has changed dramatically, whereas previously Calvin Klein brands were a single white card, the reverse now has textured black paperboard. Initially I thought it may be some sort of the faux carbon fiber that is wildly popular, but upon closer inspection it actually appears to be a denim fabric pattern. A great touch for a denim product, and like the front, you can run your fingers over it and feel the texture.

The reverse has the name.com web address, unfortunately just flat printed, in the same cream color as the front. Interestingly, they have dropped the unique top level domain name, which is helpful for simplicity but also makes the printing here unnecessary.

This is another impeccable entry from Calvin Klein, which is quickly becoming my favorite brand for hang tags (I liked a Calvin Klein Dresses Hang Tag too). It all starts with the quality materials, this tag has heft and feels good in your hands, and screams class and luxury. Both sides have textures that you can see and feel, rarely does a label get such weight and depth.

The design continues to impress as well. There is straightforward simplicity here. Hang tags without text appear to let the product do the talking, and that is the effect here. I'm especially impressed that each side has such variation in texture and color, and yet both are clearly from the same product. I praised the 2013 Calvin Klein Jeans Hang Tag for being designed to look good from any angle, and I think the same applies here. No matter which side is facing forward, it looks good.

I'm still not a fan of the name.com, and I'm even less of a fan of the wishy-washy changing of top level domain names. A special landing page for your denim is fine if you directly link to it, but otherwise useless and outdated, like flash intros.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hang Tag Review #26 - Carter's Just One You

This hang tag is from baby clothing manufacturer Carter's. Carter's usually runs monotone tags in slate and white, but this one has the "just one you" sub-brand in bright orange on the front. All the text is in lower case, and the size (9m) is display on the gift receipt portion.

The reverse is pretty no-nonsense, although there are multiple sizing descriptors, including weight and length. I wonder if this is because baby clothing is frequently bought as gifts, or because infants can vary in size so much. Also, the three sizes are really only two: The imperial standard and the two identical metric sizes. This must be a leftover from the three languages used on the tag, but one wonders how you can differentiate between the French and Spanish numbers. It is also clearly noted in three languages that the tag is printed on recycled paper, before the name.com address and a phone number.

The only color on the reverse is the unusual pink highlighting of the color and style number. It is interesting that this has attention called, as a shopper will easily be able to determine the color just by looking at the garment, and has little use for a style number. This must be related to some sort of machine reading.

This tag is an odd one for me, where I prefer the reverse over the front. I love the simple, clear design on the reverse, the centered fonts, and the block highlighting. The front is not great. The more you look at the orange, the more you realize how strongly it clashes with the white background. I'm also rarely a fan of all lowercase.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ann Taylor Loft "Size NONE" Hang Tag

Today we have something a little bit unusual. There are a lot of common elements that emerge if you spend enough time looking at hang tags (as evidenced by the Glossary page), but every now and then, something unique catches my eye.

Here, we have an Ann Taylor Loft hang tag with a very unique feature: It says "NONE" on it. At first glance it looked like perhaps an error printing, which had me excited, especially since I found it alive in the wild. Upon comparing it to some other tags, it turns out "NONE" is the size!

This was attached to a scarf, and so it stands to reason that it wouldn't have a specific size. However, I was surprised that the space was not left blank, or printed as One Size Fits All, which even has its own accepted abbreviation (OFSA).

The use of None is problematic in my view for a few reasons. First, it looks like an error or omission. Without taking the time to compare it to others, one wonders, what was supposed to be printed here? A color? Care instructions? The None just leads to more questions. Secondly, "NONE" is not the most accurate descriptor. The scarf clearly has a size, it can be measured. Even if we accept the proposition that in clothing "sizes" are only useful as they categorize and compare human bodies, NONE isn't really accurate, as we already have a bucket for those products that do not rely on the S/M/L size hierarchy, OSFA.

The only positive I could come up with was from a "body-positive" view that rejects the idea that people should conform to the sometimes unrealistic standards of fashion sizing, and that this one simply says that its buyer cannot be reduced to a single size from their complex self. I reject even that notion, however, as NONE rather implies to me that the size is immeasurable, non-existent, non-computable. Personally, I would not want to be told that my size was so unusual it could not be expressed in written terms, I'd much rather just exist somewhere along the OSFA spectrum.

That aside, I was really excited to find a hang tag with something I had not seen before and that gave me a chance to examine it. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hang Tag Review #25 - Halloween

This is going up a little late but its for fun anyways. This is a Halloween themed hang tag from a Walmart's in house line. It wasn't branded Sam's Club or America's Favorite or whatever other house brand Walmart uses from time to time.

The front depicts a smiling Jack O'Lantern that is more fun than spooky. The traditional triangle eyes and nose are done in yellow. The mouth is especially detailed, with three wildly offset teeth appearing.

The background is dark black, perhaps for contrast, perhaps just to evoke late night trick or treating, or perhaps because the artist realized that the facial features technically would not be lit unless it was dark outside. There is a bit of a white boarder surrounding the entire scene, and a gift receipt perforation as well.

I enjoyed this tag. The design is simple, but it is fun. One of the most interesting things to note is that there are no logos, branding, text, prices, or bar codes on the front of this tag (I've lost the reverse during processing but I recall the reverse being plain as well). This is something generally associated with the highest level of brands.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hang Tag Review #24 - Circo

Circo is primarily a line of baby clothes, hence the rainbow primary colors. Sold primarily for Target, one would expect this to fit in with Target's other house brands. The front of this tag is a soft blue with a thick white border, and a white circle with the company name. Circo is well stylized, but otherwise the front is rather simple.

The reverse has the nitty gritty details, and there is a lot. The 3-6 month sizing also has standard baby details of length and weight. The red is used to differentiate sizes and matches with the color coded hangers for easy selection. There is also a gift receipt, and oddly enough there is an even $5.00 listed as the price.

This tag is nice. The front is well executed in a color palette that is common on infant products, but the slightly pastel filter makes it pleasing to adult eyes. Baby products occupy a very odd space where they are marketed to children, but clearly sold to adults, and as such tend to appeal to both sensibilities.

I'm not so sure about the gift receipt's discrepancy in coloration, on the front the baby blue continues past the perforation, on the reverse, it stops just above it. Perhaps this helps make the price more machine readable. This tag also has what may be the longest product number in history. Can you imagine saying that aloud?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hang Tag Review # 23 - Nautica Jeans "Crossed Anchors" Hang Tag

I've covered a Nautica Hang Tag before. That one was a quintessential Fauxback design, high quality in materials and farcical in design. It clearly represented an expensive pair of high quality denim.

Today's hang tag is instead a simple one, likely applied at a discount retailer. It drops the fancy woven stock for simple thick paper, plain white. The front contains a small monogram logo of crossed anchors over an "N." Towards the bottom is a simple stamped name, NAUTICA, and a gift receipt tear away.

The reverse is slightly busier. It starts with a name.com and then immediately is followed up something slightly unusual. "Nautica has contributed to Oceana." Oceana.org is a charity that works to "protect the world's oceans," at least according to their website. There is not mention of the licensing fee paid to display their logo on your hangtag. Below the sponsorship message are a series of highly functional identifiers, including a barcode, and finally a size tab and the suggested retail price on the gift receipt.

The front of this hang tag is clean and simple, and scores well with an interesting logo. Interestingly, the Nautica website shows use of the sailboat logo, this crossed anchor design is clearly not favored. It's a classic design, which gives it strength from a design standpoint, but devalues it from a trademark view.

The reverse is typical department store fare, except for the fairly unique charity notice. Hang tags have limited real estate and except in extreme cases (such as this Life is Good tag) where the charity is the point of the item, full sentences with charitable information is the rare exception.

In the category of budget hang tags, I rate this one highly. The front is very nice, even if the reverse is somewhat crowded and utilitarian. I'm also excited about the unusual logo. The name.com is a little unnecessary, and although I do take a skeptical approach to the charitable notice, Nautica is actively listed as a corporate partner on Oceana.org's website. Overall a solid choice.