Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hang Tag Review #42 - Nike Dry 2 Piece Set

This hangtag is from Nike Dry and is a three parter (despite being a "2 piece set"). The top tag is a small square that is clearly an add on over the top, and most likely added to lots of garments sold as sets. It has the swoosh, and then says "2 Piece Set" in 4 languages. The reverse has the UPC space indicator, open on this one. Let's start calling them UPC Landing Zones, shall we?

The next two tags are the ones that actually have the goods on them, and are larger rectangles. The first is more or less blank, with only the Nike Swoosh and what looks like a sublimated thumb print design. The reverse is similarly plan, a matte black with handling numbers at the top and a couple logos at the bottom. It also contains a very bizarre, made even more so considering Nike is one of the most famous brands on the planet.

The third tag is the features tag - defining Nike Dry and giving the basics of the technology. Oddly enough, its referred to as "Dry" and "Nike Dry" but there is also usage of "DRI-FIT" technology. This tag as a sublimated cross-hatch design. The reverse has the same description of Nike Dry but in French this time. It also has a UPC tag and the same assortment of trademarks as the previous.

Overall, this tag is interesting because it demonstrates some of the failings of the optimization of global brands. For example it has three different pieces that are somewhat contradictory - since this specimen has the bar code stickers still attached, it is clear that these were two separate items that were stuck together and sold as a set. Also, the design changes - both have very difficult to see sublimations, but one is a finger print style wave, the other is a cross hatch. Why use two different designs across what is essentially a single product, unless someone got their lines crossed.

I'll also mark this one down for Faux French, if for no other reason than because the first hang tag has 4 languages, but oddly enough the Feature Tag only has English and French. The choice only makes sense if you are impressed by having French text on your apparel.

Enough with the bad though - I love the weight and texture to these (which I know comes through great over the internet). They are heavy and have a nice almost rubbery texture to them. Also, the top 2 piece set tag is has probably my favorite UPC Landing Zone of any tag I have looked at. Its tiny with a tiny box, clearly labeled UPC. I love it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

HangTag Review #41 - Ok!e Dokie

Today we have a children's hang tag from the JC Penny house brand "Ok!e Dokie." I'll be calling it Okie Dokie from here on out, because I'm not a masochist and like to type actual words, but the play on the upside down "i" into an exclamation point is actually somewhat well done. It hits the kids theme (because we all know kids and backwards letters go together, a la Toys "R" Us) and uses standard punctuation. I noticed that the word mark is listed only with a TM, so I checked the register and found a couple that have existed for some time, but all seem to either be dead or cancelled. I'd love to get the story, but in any case, there is no active registration for this tag.

The front is no nonsense - a solid navy with the name and the size, plus a tear-away at the bottom. The tear away, interestingly enough, is both a gift receipt and a multiple piece indicator. I haven't noticed this yet, but it works - it stands to reason that if you aren't going to sell them as a set, you probably won't use the manufacturer's suggested price either, so might as well remove both.

The reverse is typical discount house brand fare - 100% factual information in a machine readable format. The reverse's odd blue color sure is rough on the eyes, but the layout of the information is commendable. There is a lot packed onto the tag, but it isn't overwhelming. It may not be beautiful, but functional it is.

It is worth pointing out the color of the one tag, "Living Coral." Say what you want about the health of our earth and the role each of us plays in being aware of our actions and their impact on it, I would never think to see it called out on a discount, mass market, clothing hang tag. I guess "Dead Coral" or "Bleached Coral" don't have the same appeal, but what, really, is living color? The color "coral" is generally understood to be a variation of orange, but if you use the distinction "Living" it must be a reference to the actual plant/animal/rock that lives in ocean reefs. As such, the color of such life ranges from blues, to yellows, to reds, to browns, to greens, and, I'm sure, the eponymous orange.

In any case, these tags are certainly not high on my list. The trademark mystery is somewhat exciting, but overall, these are function above all else.

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.