Friday, October 31, 2014

Hang Tag Review # 22 - Indigo Blue "Skinny" Hang Tag

This Hang Tag is from label Indigo Blue maternity. This appears to be a house brand for Motherhood Maternity. The jeans are oddly designated "skinny" even though they have a super stretchy belly band to accommodate a growing baby bump.

The front of the tag is a deep blue (probably shooting for a say, indigo blue) that shows well. It may as well be denim blue. The text is all negative white. While "Premium Denim" certainly has some meaning, it is unclear what standards are required to be called premium. The "EST. 1978" is bothersome. Why include a date if it is within (or for maternity items, probably just outside, most 1978 babies are 37 by now) the lifetime of the target demographic. The date established works best for older brands, to show history and the ability to stay relevant in a changing market. It also works (although much less effectively, in my opinion) for newer, upstart brands. But in this case, it just gets lost as noise. I propose a new term for this, "YoungEST," a goofy portmanteau play on "youngish" and the EST of established.

That aside. the logo is impressive. It combines the I and B in a wonderful, classic monogram style.The outlining also clearly calls out the I and additionally gives the mark a good sense of depth. Even the choice of a serif font is smart here, adding life and definition.

The reverse is a repeating tessellation of the monogram logo. The reverse shows the logo in blue on a white background, the negative of the front. This is also a classic pattern. It is simple but well stated.

This hang tag is a particular favorite of mine. I am more than willing to overlook the unnecessary established 30 years ago. It is especially egregious, as the rest of the hang tag really calls out the classic design style and influences. The monogram logo is fantastic and sits well on an otherwise clean front. The reverse is likewise classy. I am less of a fan of the large skinny designation, but overall this is a top design.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hang Tag Review #21 - Calvin Klein “Dresses” Hang Tag

This hang tag from designer brand Calvin Klein continues in the tradition of the third runner up hang tag from the 2013 end of year awards. While that hang tag was clearly for jeans, this one is simply labeled “Dresses.”

It continues with the highly minimalist format. The front is mostly solid white, with the brand name dominating in simple typeface. Underneath the name is the dresses designation in all lowercase. All the typography is in the lower fourth of the front, leaving a lot of empty space. Also interesting is the kerning, it appears very close on the brand name, and very open on “dresses.”

The reverse is likewise minimal in design, with just the web address (in the poor format). The address is made slightly more acceptable as it appears Calvin Klein uses a variety of top level domains, but seemingly does not have one for dresses specifically. Again, the text is all in the lower portion of the tag. This leaves plenty of space for the retailer tag, here adding a splash of color with the size coding.

Although not viewable here, this hang tag is made of heavy cardstock.

This is another strong entry from Calvin Klein. It is simple and clean, and expresses a very direct design and brand. On the other hand, the white with simple black text has been done elsewhere. I’m also a little unclear on the kerning issue. Overall this is a strong showing, another tasteful entry.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hang Tag Review #20 - Banana Republic "Petite" Hang Tag

This specialty hang tag is from prep brand Banana Republic. This is a special hang tag for their Petite sized items. The front is a soft pink with black text in all caps. It is simple, the only words are the brand name and two uses of petite, one on what would otherwise be the gift receipt space. There are also three diamonds used to set the space.

The reverse is where the action is. It contains a slim paragraph describing the Petite Collection. It quickly outlines that products marked petite are not just smaller, they are reduced proportionally to fit petite bodies. Every inseam, sleeve, hem and rise is adjusted individually. 

This paragraph is a disaster. Petite Collection is written in Victorian Caps, perhaps in an effort to demonstrate trademark use, or perhaps to really let you know what Banana Republic thinks is important. Petite is later used by itself but capitalized, as a proper known, which makes one wonder if Petite is perhaps being used as a class, such as a race or medical disability. Labeling customers as a separate class seems like an odd choice. "Style" appears twice in the four lines, which is predictable.

Just beneath the text is the same text in Faux French. It is obviously designed to call to mind a bespoke French fashion designer, creating one of a kind clothing for the petite woman, imported specially here for you. Except that this is the only French that these items will ever encounter. It is not a labeling requirement as the two passages are slightly different. Interestingly, "Petite" is capitalized but "collection" is not. Trademarks should generally not be translated but should be consistently used as trademarks. The marketing team won out over the legal team here, weakening a (potential) trademark at the expense of faux authenticity.

This hang tag is a great specimen. It uses "Petite" as a size, which is great for the smaller woman, but also really undercuts the idea that the clothes are specially sized. "Customized for you, as long as you are the one size that Petite fits." I give Banana Republic points for courage and direction though, they label their ideal customer as Petite with a capital P, a proper class of people. This is a bold choice that clearly says to a lot of potential buyers "Not for you." It is great to see them pick a direction and go for it, even if the copy needs some work in other areas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hang Tag Review 19 - Couture "Generic" Hang Tag

This is a fun entry. This is from a somewhat generic brand that creates very budget novelty handbags. If anything, they attempt to reference Juicy Couture, but they are clearly items that you purchase at the five and dime for a child to play dress up with.

The design also very loosely apes some Juicy Couture hang tags. The use of Juicy colors pastel pink with black text and silver accents gives it away. The black flower cut outs are at least a little interesting with additional accents on the reverse.

The front is a nightmare, on the other hand. The silver foil text is centered, which is great, except that the pink flower is off-set. None of the elements line up in any sort of interesting or meaningful way. Instead, we see an "O" that could be used to mark the disk of the flower, but instead of slightly off. The "C" could encase the petal, but again, slightly off. The "U" is just sort of there as well.

The second flower on the front is a moment of clarity. The alignment is nice and the it makes a cute detail. If only it weren't the only one, we would be in much better shape.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Element "Wolfeboro Collection" Hang Tag

This hang tag comes from alternative sports company Element. It is a decently heavy card stock and makes use of the yellow text over navy blue color motif used by, most notably, Ralph Lauren. The front has two different fonts, a bold sans serif block and a slightly more flowery serif, that also used small caps.

The text leaves out the product name in favor of the name of the “collection.” I’m going to guess that this is Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, but I imagine the name sounded right more than anything else. The two tags lines, “Made to Endure the Elements” and “Inspired by Simple Living” tell you all you need to know. This is lumberjack wear. Or, more specifically, I am living in a cabin on a mountain and snowboarding every day wear. The idealized cabin is right there, in case you needed a hint. “Inspired by Simple Living” is fine, especially since it is self-limiting, its only inspired, it is not actually representative.

I have a bit of a problem with the other tag line though: “Made to Endure the Elements.” It uses the company name in the tag line, and in a negative way. If the elements are something that one must endure, what does it say about element clothing? Clothing made to endure our clothing? Sloppy work.

I have, however, always been a huge fan of the Element logo. The stylized pine tree shows well here, especially with the other pieces of this tag. One of my favorite logos in apparel, and it comes from a company founded on irreverent skateboard designs.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Polo Ralph Lauren "Stripe" Hang Tag

This is another hang tag from luxury design house Polo Ralph Lauren. There is quite a contrast between the two, as the previous was solid colors. This one uses bold, well saturated primary colors in horizontal stripes. Green, red, and blue make up the main colors, with a yellow accent and gold lettering. The design likely is calling to mind yachting flags. The gold foil used on the name almost looks cheap, but not quite.

The reverse is department store clearance rack. There is a glaring typography issue with style name “CLASSIC05.” It screams mass market in the worst way possible, as does the “Return Label” text near the Macy’s name. There is good web address use here. When your web address is different than the company name, adding it to the reverse is a appropriate. Nicely done.

I like this tag a lot. It has a simple design that speaks volumes about the product. Clean and sharp, it says old money country club luxury with a few colors. It is a shame the reverse wasn’t designed as well, but this one ranks highly in my book.