Labeling Labels

"Traditionally, labels on clothes have indicated the brand and a garment size, and tags have usually had similar information along with price and other details. Some designers, however, seem to put more emphasis on these small details, as well as on packaging and product presentation. Those who are superficial about the retail market might say these details play no role when selling or buying clothing, but some may disagree.

Take for example the Belgian designer Martin Margiela, whose white, nameless label filled with seemingly meaningless numbers is quite anonymous, and revealing at the same time. The numbers on the label, which is attached to garments with four white, clearly visible stitches, symbolize the different clothing and accessory lines produced by Margiela, -the one to which the garment belongs to is circled. To some, the label won’t make much sense, but to others it will make the garment recognizable by just the 4 stitches in the back of the neck and tell absolutely everything.

Brands such as Label Under Construction, by former Carpe Diem designer Luca Laurini, have taken labeling to the next level. The garments themselves might not have even the smallest care tag on them, but can be recognized by a signature knit hole situated in the back of a shirt. Not only will the hole have people telling you about a flaw in your sweater, but it also serves a purpose. The tag, which consists of long, papery strips with printed text, is attached to the small hole with a piece of metal wire held in place by two ferrules. In a way, this makes the tag a part of the garment itself. In addition, LUC supplies select retailers with display supplies; metal hook springs from which the garments can be hung in a very peculiar and intentionally careless way. To further elaborate the interesting choices on display, garments have sometimes been placed in metal buckets at the labels buying event.

Packaging is something that has gotten more attention from designers recently. Traditionally, garments went from brown delivery boxes to hangers on the store’s racks and into the customer’s bag, but nowadays customers can occasionally receive products in various kinds of packages. Visvim, the Japanese streetwear label known for very high-quality footwear, is easily recognizable for its all white cardboard boxes and paper packs. In addition to shoes, some smaller products such as wallets and belts come in similar small white boxes equipped with a very traditional string enclosure; clothes are contained in matching foldable paper envelopes. Another brand focusing on this is Wings+Horns; their s/s08 products come in stylish black hardcover boxes.

Amadei is known for his artisanal skills in garment making and leather work, which he has also applied to the packaging
One of the most interesting packaging concepts comes from m.a+. Pronounced m.a. cross, the Italian label is designed by Maurizio Amadei, another ex-Carpe Diem designer. Amadei is known for his artisanal skills in garment making and leather work, which he has also applied to the packaging of m.a+. All items come in folded envelope-like canvas pouches secured by a long elastic string. Like some of his garments, the packaging is also made from a single piece of fabric and the emphasis is put on texture and pattern.

This brings us to the question; why do some designers put this much emphasis into details that are quite insignificant when thinking about the actual product? Sure, a nice box can always be used for storage, but maybe it can be considered a further display of a designer’s creativity and emphasize the thought put into the product. In some cases packaging and tags can follow the design of the garment or even be considered to be an integral part of it. Much like with m.a+, some Carpe Diem clothes have come in a canvas tube with a shoulder strap that could be used to carry or pack the item. In many cases, details such as these can make the garment feel special.

Perhaps this feeling of getting something special also explains why paying $500 for one thing might not seem much while in other cases it might seem crazy, but that’s a whole other story…"

This article by by A.M. with contribution by Eugene Rabkin


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