Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hang Tag Review #32 - Carter's Little Collections "Christmas Tree" Hang Tag

I am so excited to have discovered these. Baby wear brand Carter's apparently offers a series of themed clothing in what they refer to as "Little Collections." Several items to a matching outfit are sold as a single piece on a single hanger, with the standard Carter's hang tag and one of these "feature" tags.

This one is for a Christmas collection, judging by the little tree. The tag itself is small (about 1" x 1") and features the standard slate background. There is a white circle inside the square with the tree and the name. The tree is a simple triangle evergreen rendered in green, with a small red 5 point star above it. The reverse is untreated paperboard.

The tag design is really fun. I've not been impressed with Carter's tags in the past (the exist in a truly "Meh" category) but I love these ones. The presentation is simple and fun, with the little symbols adding just the right touch of color. I like the slate that Carter's uses, but their other colors tend to turn me off. Here, the pop of green and red are perfect.

The use of the tree is interesting. Although trees have become a somewhat defacto "politically correct but everyone still knows I mean Christmas" symbol, I could see a wrapped gift being used equally as well. Then again, while Carter's is not an expensive brand, it is certainly not need based baby clothing.

I continue to wish Carter's would drop the all lower case text, but here I'll let it slide.

Overall, a really fun tag and I look forward to reviewing some more from the series.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hang Tag Review #31 - Stoosh Hang Tag

Stoosh is, among other things, a junior women's brand that is carried by larger discount department stores. It was a new brand to me this year.

The front of this tag is a simple solid black background with tessellated slate flowers. Printed over the flowers at the bottom is the wordmark in all lowercase, in a very narrow font.

The reverse is solid black. Both sides have a glossy finish, which looks great on the reverse (and just ok on the front).

This hang tag is made of quality materials, it is thick cardstock, and the glossy finish is a nice touch. There is, however, one feature that makes this hang tag very, very exciting: the grommet. This small metal fixture is a welcome addition to any hang tag, and it looks fantastic here. This screams attention to detail as well as quality.

This hang tag holds a special place in my heart. On the Inspirations page for this blog there are currently only two, one of which is the flagship blog of journalist Paul Lukas. He has recently started something of an art project to put grommets into all kinds of things, primarily foodstuffs, and it is fantastic. Check it out for yourself.

Overall, I'm not in love with the design of this tag. I find the front very flat and uninspired, plus the wordmark is actually pretty hard to read. Nonetheless, the level of workmanship and finish here more than makes up for it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Hang Tag Blog Awards: 2 in 10

Hello and welcome to the Hang Tag Blog Awards! This will be the first awards handed out since I smartly revised the awards scheme to account for the fact that it is extremely difficult to update a blog on a regular calendar schedule. The 2 in 10 awards are granted to the top 2 selections from the previous 10 hang tags reviewed. These are followed up with the 5 in 50, and the 10 in 100 awards.

This section is a little odd, as the first nominee goes back to the end of 2014. Most of the rest come from the past two weeks though, so the pace has picked up and more of them are competing against their peers. Good design is timeless, anyways, so a truly great specimen from 2014 should have no problem against the early crop of 2016 tags.

And the nominees are:

#21 Calvin Klein "Dresses"
#22 Indigo Blue "Skinny"
#23 Nautica Jeans "Crossed Anchors"
#24 Circo
#25 Halloween
#26 Carter's "Just One You"
#27 Calvin Klein "Jeans"
#28 Under Armour All Season Gear "Boys"
#29 Disney Baby
#30 NFL Team Apparel

There are some solid choices in this set, and getting down to a top 2 is not an easy thing. All the Calvin Klein tags I have ever reviewed have done well, and here we have both a solid "Dresses" tag and the top tier "Jeans" tag from 2015. I also gave high remarks to the Indigo Blue hang tag. The Nautica Jeans tag was a sleeper hit as well, a budget tag with excellent design and a rarely used logo that caught my attention in a big way.

Our winners this round are the Indigo Blue "Skinny" hang tag and the Calvin Klein "Jeans" hang tag. I'll give an honorary mention to the Nautica Jeans hang tag with the Crossed Anchors logo. It almost makes it, despite (or maybe because) it is a budget hang tag.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hang Tag Review #30 - NFL Team Apparel Hang Tag

This is a fun one but also a little bit unique. This is a hang tag that the NFL attaches to licensed apparel. The front has the NFL shield logo prominently displayed, with TEAM APPAREL printed underneath. The background has a dappled pattern, which appears to be simulating the leather grain on a football. The background fades in as a gradient moving from top to bottom.

The reverse starts with the website as a name.com. Below that is a holographic sticker which probably indicates authenticity. Underneath the holo sticker we find another sticker, this one with the distributor information on it. Further down is the third sticker, the reailer sticker with price, size, and barcode.

This tag is pretty middle of the road. I've decided that I do like the tags that are tall and narrow, and this one has a lot of colors. However, I think the leather effect is really poorly implemented. It makes no sense that it fades out on the top, and without looking closely or really thinking about the design, it just looks sloppy.

The reverse is very interesting from a design standpoint, if nothing else. There are a full three stickers attached. This offers a lot of flexibility, as these hang tags can be distributed to a wide variety of manufacturers for use with their items. On the other hand, it calls into question the whole authenticity of the "hologram sticker" issue. If these tags are just being sent around to be randomly stickered, what is to guarantee to me, the consumer, that someone didn't receive a shipment of blank hang tags with the holo stickers and then just attach their own? It defeats the entire purpose.

Also if you name is a three letter abbreviation, the name.com address is wholly unnecessary. Especially with the way today's modern browsers work, entering "NFL" "NFL.COM" or HTTP://WWW.NFL.COM" into your browser is all going to take you to the same place.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hang Tag Review #29 - Disney Baby Hang Tag

This hang tag is for Disney Baby, and it certainly has some interesting features. The front is pure Disney, in a series of pastel greens. There is Disney written in the Disney font with the magic castle logo above, rendered in building block treatment. The magic sparkles connect the two.

The reverse starts with a message encouraging purchasers to "Discover the magic on Disneybaby.com." Not quite a name.com example, as it appears in a sentence, although I am always critical of sub domains such as this.

Perhaps more fascinating is that we then see the licensee information below. This product (for infant shoes) was made by ABG BABY, distributed by Rising Star. While this is fairly typical for big brands, I'm surprised that so much is surfaced so readily here.

This tag falls a little flat for me. I'm really not enjoying the somewhat lazy color scheme. For some reason the world of infants is very sensitive to gender coloring, and this tag is safely gender neutral (soft greens, slate, and sometimes yellow being the widely accepted top picks in this area). Still, nothing about this screams Disney, which is generally the most overdone and on message brand in the existence. It feels uninspired, like someone figured if they just typed "MAGIC" a bunch of times it would fully qualify, but the Disney Magic isn't just about saying the words, its about fully committing to them.

I actually like the licensee's banding a little bit more, the ABG BABY in baby blocks is a nice treatment, if somewhat expected.

As I touched on above, I'm ok with a name.com if used in a sentence, and additionally, I think Disney is a brand where the sub domain makes sense. Disney has famous theme parks, famous movies, famous characters, and famous toys. I wouldn't go to the Disney homepage and expect to find baby clothing without a few additional clicks. The distributor also has a web address, and since it is slightly different from the name, I think listing it in full makes sense. Good web use here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hang Tag Review #28 - Under Armour All Season Gear Boys

This is a hang tag from sports apparel brand Under Armour. I've reviewed several of their other hang tags, some very favorably, in previous posts. This tag is small in size, and busy. The front is a black background, with a reflective UA logo, and additionally a reflective variation on a name.com address. The other primary colors are orange and white, white being used for much of the text and orange for logos and as an accent color.

There is some odd UA PERFORMANCE text going vertically upwards on the left side, which has brackets flowing across the tag. Visually, it transitions to the instructional text, asking purchasers to "Wear this to feel dry and light." Bizarre, to say the least, but it likely grows out of the multiple "lines" that UA traditionally offers (ColdGear, HeatGear, and this, AllSeasonGear). That text is repeated in French, although Spanish is not present.

The reverse is somewhat less busy. The reflective logo appears again, although this time it is a circular shield with UA's "Universal Guarantee of Performance" and somewhat famous "Protect This House" trademarks. There is a large retailer tag affixed in the retailer tag space, with more UA markings below, as well as the copyright notice.

This tag is pretty disastrous. The front is a hodge-podge of different designs, texts, and ideas, none of which come together with any cohesion. It is like they started with a black tag with a logo, then someone said, Add in the Orange for our All Season line, then someone else said, We have to get that UA Performance marking on it, then someone else said, Its too confusing, add wearing instructions, then legal got involved and added the French. This is a prime example of a company viewing its hang tags as after thoughts, the necessary evil that goes along with the clothing. It needs to be stripped down and redesigned from top to bottom.

The wearing instructions are odd, but mostly from a clothing design standpoint and not from a hang tag perspective. The use of French but not Spanish is confusing, but it doesn't appear to be faux-French so I give it a pass. I'm of the mindset that each region that requires a different language should get its own hang tag.

The reverse is much better, simply by having less on it, but this tag remains rotten with trademark usage. UA seems to have vomited half of their portfolio onto this one, infant sized, tag. The gift receipt on the retailer sticker is laughable since the physical tag itself doesn't have gift receipt space itself, compounded further by the fact that this is an Under Armour retailer tag. Even within their own distribution channel they couldn't get it straight.

One thing I will give credit for here is the nice use of reflective lettering and logos. The silver against the black background looks sharp. I'll also give a pass for the name.com since it is an abbreviation of the name. I think the simple UA.COM looks great on this tag and is well worth including.