Why did they move the tags?
November 9, 2011 8:54 PM   Subscribe

OK, sometimes you just have to ask a seemingly silly question. Why do so many items of clothing that used to have the labels on the back of the neck (where they were itchy enough already), now have them on the side seam, where they are harder to see for laundry instructions and even itchier? Is there a regulation, or some policy change, or did manufacturers decide on their own or what?
posted by mmf to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My guess is that the side seam is generally more likely to be in contact with other clothing rather than skin.
posted by brujita at 9:10 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of clothing stores/manufactures are moving towards labels printed directly inside the shirt - this may be related. In the case of the printed label, it's to make the nape of the neck less itchy and smoother I presume. It may be the same for side seam labels.
posted by bendy at 9:24 PM on November 9, 2011

I assumed it was because people hate it when their tag sticks out and they look goofy.
posted by troublesome at 9:37 PM on November 9, 2011

"I assumed it was because people hate it when their tag sticks out and they look goofy."

Anecdate - I am much less bothered by labels on side than on neck. My neck is a lot more sensitive than my flank.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:42 PM on November 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Labels may not be attached during sewing of the clothing, but at some point after. Side seams are easier to stitch over than necks.
posted by Jehan at 9:50 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I find it less itchy, esp. with button-down shirts or sweaters which I might wear something under, but even on clothes w/ nothing underneath the side seam isn't pressed against me the way the collar is (exception for tight shirts, where any tag at all is an itchy pain). But I definitely like not having to worry about my tag sticking up.
posted by Lady Li at 10:42 PM on November 9, 2011

One thing I have noticed is that labels have been getting longer and longer in recent years, particularly with clothes sold in multiple markets. Stuff from Inditex brands (Zara/Pull & Bear/Massimo Dutti etc.) are a good example of this - the label contains information in many languages and can be several centimeters long. If it was at the back of the neck, it would probably stick out most of the time.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:08 PM on November 9, 2011

I just bought a seam ripper to remove a particularly itchy side tag. It seems to work pretty well.
posted by willnot at 11:23 PM on November 9, 2011

Be careful with a seam ripper! Be sure that the label was sewn separately and that you are not cutting the garment apart.

My husband's car was rear ended; he had to have surgery to fix his neck. Naturally, the neck tags were all in position to rub on the new scar. That is how I learned tag removal - over and over.
posted by Cranberry at 11:57 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lots of the garments I buy now seem to have care instructions in at least two or three languages, plus international symbols, and the labels are getting larger (or doubling up) as a result. That might also be a contributing factor.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:24 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I assume the answer to everything manufacturing is 'because it's cheaper'. It seems like it would be easier and faster to sew a label on a long straight seam on the side than in the small curve of the neck.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:48 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm not really sure the premise is correct. I buy a lot of vintage clothing actually the labels are really commonly on the side, which makes it hard to shop because you have to check the side on every piece of vintage. This seems especially true for women's clothing, men's button-down shirts, and coats.

As it turns out, I just did some searching and it seems like any changes you are noticing may be either changes in regulations or changes in country of origin. Because where a clothing label is found on the garment, and what it says, seem to be highly regulated at least in Western countries. This US Customs and Border Protection document, for instance, says:

In the case of garments that cover the upper torso such as shirts, blouses, coats,
sweaters, dresses and similar apparel, country of origin marking must be placed on the
“inside center of the neck midway between the shoulder seams or in that immediate
area” as ruled by Customs in T.D. 54640 (6)

Lots of similar documents for other countries. So to retrace the movements of clothing labels, I guess you'd have to look at import and manufacturing regulations and how those have changed over time.
posted by Miko at 5:26 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

My feeling is that it is due to individual manufacturers making clothing for many different labels. The content and care is always going to be the same, so that label goes in the side seam. Then whoever is branding the clothing has their label put in the neck. This means that a manufacturer can 1) make items that are sold via different labels 2) hawk shirts that were originally for a different label/order to a new label, if for some reason the first falls through 3) sell knockoffs on the grey or black market.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2011

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