Gigi did a post on small-run label manufacturers. I thought I would add a little to that for folks who are interested in larger quantities – say a small manufacturer, cottage industry or serious hobbyist. In addition to Heirloom Woven Labels and Sterling Name Tapes, there are several manufacturers that cater to the small to mid-sized business market. I’m not an expert in these things (for that, check out Fashion Incubator. Kathleen et al have lots of information that I don’t for DEs and larger manufacturers), but I have had a little experience with some of the label manufacturers.
When I first got started, I contacted Widby Labels, a manufacturer of printed labels in Tennessee. They were really lovely people to deal with. I bought sew-in labels as well as pressure sensitive labels for sticking on boxes, bags, literature and sundry other things. You supply them with the artwork (a .gif file or similar) and they provide the labels in a pretty quick turnaround. The labels are printed on polyester fabric, and in addition to custom labels they also make a number of standard labels for sizing, care, etc. Here’s a picture of one of the labels:
Not taking anything away from Widby and their quality, I decided shortly thereafter that I wanted to invest in woven labels. They just look higher end than printed. The service at Widby was such that if they offered woven labels, I would have bought from them in a heartbeat. But that’s not their bag, so I looked elsewhere.
ClothingLabels4u.com does woven labels. This company spun from Lisa’s Bloomers, an historic undergarment manufacturer. Lisa, the owner of both companies, is great to work with. You supply her with the artwork and she will produce samples matched pretty closely to your colors and will produce the labels at a reasonable cost. I think (and Lisa, if you are reading this, please feel free to chime in) that the manufacturing of the labels is done in India. It takes a couple of weeks to get the labels. They are well made, the resolution is good, the prices are reasonable, and the customer service is excellent. Here’s an example – when I ordered the first set of labels, I didn’t proof the specs as carefully as I should have. So I received straight cut labels. I had meant to order center fold sew in labels. When I talked to her about this, she offered to buy back the straight cuts saying she could use them as samples. I thought that was pretty darned good service. I decided to keep the straight cuts, but I really liked dealing with her. The only nit I have with the labels, was that they could approximate, but not match, the Pantone number for the purple “bug” in my logo. That may have changed Here’s a picture of the two label styles from her.
Since I ordered last, she has also added the ability to do custom hang tags, so if you are small manufacturer, ClothingLabels4U is definitely worth checking out.
The big kahuna is Apparel Labels International. I believe they are based in Salt Lake City. I ordered labels from them. They’re big, so the service, while quite good, isn’t as personalized as either of the other two. But they do a great job. They matched my Pantone number (512) for my bug precisely. The labels were very high quality. In some ways I like the ClothingLabels4U labels better, in some ways I like the Apparel Label Int;l labels better. They are both good. But if you look at the company they keep, it seems that Apparel Label is the one that the high-end folks go to. Go figure, the prices reflect that. They do the full line of tags, labels, size strips, hanger tabs. You name it. They also have an art department that will work with you on your design. When I ordered from them, I uploaded my artwork and specs from their website, and within a day they were back to me with a quote and a mockup. I had the labels within a week. They are pretty impressive – here are some samples, along with my labels from them:
All three label companies do a good job of fulfilling the need. Depending on your requirements, one may work better than the other. All three had excellent service and get a Diva thumbs-up.