About T-Shirt Tags Or There Lack Of

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three types of t-shirt tags

We're about to mess with your mind here. Quick, don't think of a pink elephant. How well did you do? We have a pretty good guess, considering this is one of the oldest tricks in the book. You're helpless against our power of suggestion! Now quick, don't feel that itchy tag on the back of your tee scratching your neck. Wait, you don't feel a thing? Have we lost all our mind control over you? Or are you simply sporting the updated t-shirts that we carry? Well done, trendsetter!

Let's stop picturing anything and talk the t-shirt tag, tagless tee and tear-away tag—especially if you did scratch the back of your neck. Be itchy no more, and learn about the new technology of tags.


Don't get us wrong. We're not against tags. In fact, we equally promote these three bestsellers: the completely updated t-shirt tag, tagless tag, and the tear-away tag. Yes, the tagless tag is still a tag, but we'll get to that. As simple as these might sound, there's a science to each. Apparel has finally caught up with the needs of our neck, so there's a tag that's made especially for you.


Who invented these trending new tags? The bigger question is who invented tags at all? We're going to need some names and numbers because those people are in some serious trouble. Seriously, though, the tags that traditionally come to mind are the tags of the past. We can certainly agree that comfort wasn't the key component for putting tags in garments. The tag's history isn't about proper care for our garments, as you might originally have thought. It was a tag turf war. The first documented tagged garment was produced in 1874, with the tag signifying this product's quality versus the competitors' wares. Tag tactics it was, made to show a union's clout as the top clothing manufacturer. The International Ladies Garment Workers' Union even crafted a catchy little ditty called "Look for the Union Label" for its TV commercials in the 1970s and '80s.

If only the producers of the past worked as hard at making their tags wearable as they did to come up with that jingle.

Are you shocked? We might have all assumed that those scratchy tags of the past were a necessary evil. After all, a truly tagless tee might seem completely counterintuitive, at first thought. How would you know what brand your favorite shirt was? How could you tell your perfect size? And how would you know how to properly launder and care for your apparel? Wait, no one reads that line on the label. We're kidding!

But "Look for the Union Label"? Probably not high on your personal list of priorities.


regular tag

Now that you know how tags came to be, can we seriously be about to talk up tags? We'll never try talking up traditional tags as we all knew them.

We the wearers have that shared experience of how offending that tag used to be. Most of us learned to live with the uncomfortable itch, but others didn't fare as well. Driven mad by the scratch, itch and rub, some rebels took matters into their own hands, literally. Was that you? How well did that go? There may have been a moment of sweet relief, but did you also hear that sound? It wasn't just the sound of your favorite tee ripping. It was your shirt crying out in pain. For those of us unwilling to take a chance on ruining our favorite tee, just clipping the corners into rounded edges seldom gave full relief. And yes, we've heard all heard those wild rumors of a friend of a friend who took the time to perform the excruciating surgery of removing their tee's tag with scissors, but we fear these are only urban legends. We feel your pain. Or we don't, actually. When traditional tags go modern, you don't have to destroy your shirt or feel an itch. It's a shame to call them t-shirt tags, but all that is the same is just in the name.

The most popular t-shirt tag is now not meant to be felt at all. Our favorite t-shirt tags haven't just saved their technology for the look and feel of your favorite apparel's fabric. That same attention to detail has finally been applied toward the tag.

Woven labels are not only meant to be comfortable, they're nearly meant to be forgotten, as they can come in colors to blend seamlessly into a, well, seam. What tag? They're also designed to withstand wear and tear, so an oh-so comfortable label can stay put and is practically invisible.

And material matters. A silky feel with satin-like material is less likely to ever offend. Imagine, a tag that no longer feels like it was knit out of barbed wire. Can't? Try the Comfort Colors C1717 T-Shirt and the Comfort Colors C6014 Long Sleeve T-Shirt. While our favorites are considered "regular" t-shirt tags, they're the modern take on it.


Heat transfer

Prepare to be impressed with pressed. That's exactly what the tagless tag looks like. It has been pressed directly onto the inside back of the shirt where a tag would normally hang. The popular tagless tag goes by many names, such as the heat-transfer tag, heat-transfer label, heat-sealed tag or tag-free label. It's still considered a t-shirt tag, as it still contains the same information as any traditional tag, except there's nothing to feel.

The tagless tag, or heat transfer label, can be printed onto the shirt by screen printing, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing or with a heat press. The tagless tag isn't going anywhere, and not just because of its enormous popularity. Printed directly where we expect that hanging tag to be, its information is permanently printed directly on the actual material.

The very first tagless label was launched in masse in 2002 by one of our staple brands, Hanes. It took Michael Jordan as Hanes' spokesperson to let us know that everything was going to be okay without a hanging tag. And we're not talking Michael Jordan, the golf player. We mean Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player. That's the amount of convincing we needed to try the tagless label.

Because of the chance they took on promoting a tagless tag, it's only fitting we direct you toward the Hanes 5250T T-Shirt. And not just because Michael Jordan told you so. We taglessly agree.


organic cotton

Introducing the tear-away tag, the Choose Your Own Adventure book of t-shirt tags. Now there's good justification for a tear-away tag. It's good for anyone who doesn't want or need any product or brand information. If it gets in your way? Tear it away. It's also good for anyone who enjoys that information intact. It's the perfect marriage, giving the wearer the ultimate choice.

A tear-away tag is the utmost go-to for those starting their own brand, while keeping the guaranteed quality of brands such as Anvil and Jerzees. There's no worry that apparel from well-known companies is going to shrink, fade or fall apart. Feel free to design away, knowing the job's already almost done with superior gear. Tear, or not-to-tear with our favorites, the Anvil 980 T-Shirt and the Jerzees 29M T-Shirt.

This still isn't the cactus-like material used in that scratchy past. Designed to pull away, the stitching loosely holds a paper-like material strong enough to hold, yet pliable enough to pull away without causing your shirt to cry out in pain.

And then there's the greatest justification for the tear-away tag. Remember that favorite shirt? Can you picture it? Sorry, you probably are picturing it. But it's the one we mentioned before, the one with the gaping hole from where that impulsive decision pulled the seam apart. Was it your favorite shirt? Did you maybe even have to throw it away? Is this entire line of questioning making you angrier and angrier? Great. Buy a tear-away. Purely out of vengeance. Sure, this tag is designed to be torn away—but tear it off in memory of that lost shirt. Or lost shirts. Or just for an entire lifetime of uncomfortable tags. Go ahead. Let 'er rip. We won't tell.


We all dreamed of this moment in time: a new generation of tags bringing relief to necks everywhere. The modern t-shirt, tear-away and tagless t-shirt tags. And you don't have picture it, that moment is already here.

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Tags: Tags T-Shirts Labels

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Zachary German

Zachary German
04/09/2021 |

why so anti union? also, i wear t shirts with tags every day and have never felt itched by the tag. maybe consult a physician

Joyce Ruempolhamer

Joyce Ruempolhamer
10/21/2020 |

Looking for good priced t-shirt and sweatshirts without label. Would like to iron a label in.

Charles J Wright

Charles J Wright
02/01/2020 |

Michael Jordan and those other dunces at Hanes apparently never had to get dressed in the dark. Those real, physical tag are important to some of us. They instantly give two important pieces of information. I started buying my t-shirts at Campbellsville, but their web site has gone dark. If you offer tees with real tags, I might consider. Do You?