Prevailing culture teaches that labels are oversimplifications at best and, at worst, inaccurate characterizations of the person or thing itself. We’re even taught to defy labels that might be applied to us. In the context of clothing this holds true only so far as it describes labels themselves: contrary to this blogger’s understanding prior to crashing in on the apparel business, a label is the correct industry terminology for what most refer to as a tag. Beyond that, however, the similarity in connotation between the popular usage of the word label and industry usage of the word label ends. The label in a garment should, nay, must accurately describe that to which it is attached. This is especially true of the labels in our kids’ sailor suits.
Our labels plainly state our business name, the fiber content, country of origin—the good ol’ U.S. of A., of course—and our straight forward care instructions. But the accuracy of our labels goes even deeper. The labels themselves accurately reflect the essence of the kids’ sailor suits on which they’re sewn. Like the sailor suits themselves, the design began with looking over the labels of the originals. Even among Navy uniform item labels from the World War II era, quite a bit of variation exists: some labels are printed, others are woven; some have a place for a name, others do not; some are square, others more rectangular; some had lots of information about the uniform item, others simply provided a place for labeling the owner’s name.
Ultimately, we focused our children’s sailor suit label design on a label sewn into a World War II Coast Guard middy. Unlike most uniform labels, this one was woven rather than printed. This blogger’s personal experience is that printed uniform labels wear and wash out. To the extent allowed by U.S. labeling requirement, we followed the content and layout of the labels. We also provided a space for name labeling, which is very important for a uniform item. Lastly, we opted to stamp sizes on to the label in the same way that 1940’s defense contractors did. Thus unlike almost all modern kids’ clothes, our kids’ sailor suits have but one label.
There is yet one more layer of accuracy in our labeling, one that reflects best our ethos: our labels are woven on machines from the 1940s in the U.S.