Tagging With Care

May 28, 2013
Dad's hooded sweatshirt

Dad’s hooded sweatshirt

Clothing labels and tags serve a lot of purposes. They provide size and product details, give us cleaning instructions and serve as an essential element to brand recognition.

This past weekend I was wearing one of my farmer dad’s old hooded sweatshirts. This over 20 year old threadbare sweatshirt hangs on to its tag like pages to a book. My dad, a strapping third-generation farmer, was primarily outfitted by seed companies logo gear (which this was). What struck me so profoundly was the care tag. “I’m Proud To Be A Farmer” it reads. This simple message (tag) embodied my dad.

Labeling/tagging as we know it today on the internet helps us perform functions such as classification, search optimization, marking ownership and organizing categories. Tags take the form of words, images, or other identifying marks.

So I started to think about how clothing tags can say a lot or a little about your brand. Tags are marks. They can simply identify which company you are, or put a moral stake in the ground about your philosophy. The designer considers the obvious elements of any project: size, style, implementation and color. But, we have a real opportunity to communicate something beyond which company you are. How far will you go?



Levi’s care tag are now a vehicle for delivering an environmentally conscious message for Goodwill. Good for you, good for our planet.

Donate For Good Care Message

Donate For Good Care Message


Various Vintage Tags

Although beautiful, these vintage tags serve the sole purpose of company identification.

Vintage Tags As Identity

Vintage Tags As Identity


Sweet homemade tags by Grandma.

Growing up the youngest of a big family, I have fond memories of my clothes sporting the “Made With Love By Mom” tags. These are especially great with the addition of Grandma “fashioning” it, too.

Handmade Love By...

Handmade Love By…



American Apparel

Clothing manufacturer American Apparel isn’t exactly known for its conservative ads. In fact, photos used in the brand’s advertising campaigns have been banned on more than one occasion. It’s clear the brand relies on racy images to appeal to customers. But when I saw these tags emphasizing the company’s “Made in America. Sweatshop Free” slogan…it caused me to take another look.

Although I am not in alignment with their show lots of skin” marketing strategy, I do align with the brand’s subtle pro-USA-made message.

Made By A Woman...

Made in LA by a woman with healthcare…

Some examples of American Apparel may have an American Appeal:  “Made in LA by a woman with healthcare for herself and three children” and “Inspected by someone returning from a fully paid vacation” and “This sweatshirt was sewn by 9 people in a sweatshop-free environment in downtown LA where they are paid fair wages and have access to healthcare and benefits.”

Inspected by someone who just returned from a paid vacation...

Inspected by someone coming back from a fully paid vacation…

USA Made

Made in LA, sweatshop-free


As a designer, I view tags as little beautiful openings into something bigger. And a good one is a true visual treasure. Similar to the moment I saw the “I’m Proud To Be A Farmer” tag on my late dad’s hoodie. …thanks for properly tagging my dad.