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When it comes to performance footwear, components are a big deal. Footwear vendors have long used hang tags with the names and technical bona fides of their components partners to add credibility to their brand message. Components makers in turn have relied on the method to call attention to their often-invisible technology.
But who decides which tags go where — and what they say? Do customers spend the time reading the tags components manufacturers work so hard on? And in today’s eco-conscious environment, what can components makers do when brands put the kibosh on the traditional hang tag?
Footwear News asked four companies to weigh in on the role of the hang tag and what the future might hold.
Product: Aegis Microbe Shield technology, an antimicrobial treatment used in linings and insoles that is odorless, colorless and retains its properties for the life of the product
Footwear brands: Merrell, New Balance, Keen
Aegis Environments is not just tough on bacteria, it’s tough on its partner brands when it comes to hang tags. According to Nathan Smith, industry manager for the Midland, Mich.-based company, all vendors must routinely demonstrate that the Microbe Shield technology is being properly applied before a hang tag can be displayed on the product. “We demand performance,” said Smith, noting that Aegis routinely monitors its clients (of which about 5 percent are footwear brands) to guarantee the proper application of its technology.
According to Smith, the hang tags can influence a purchase, as evidenced by routine calls from consumers asking about the technology’s benefits. To make it easier for people to get in touch, Aegis puts its Website on all tags. “When consumers buy something unique, they want to know what they’re buying,” said Smith. “Technology and the presentation of that technology give [brands] an edge.” By displaying hang tags, he added, consumers come to recognize the technology and repurchase products featuring it.
PrimaLoft, Albany International Corp.
Product: PrimaLoft Eco, a synthetic recycled insulation used in uppers that is water-resistant, breathable and compressible
Footwear brands: Ariat, Timberland, Patagonia
PrimaLoft is taking its performance message global when it comes to hang tags. According to Eileen Berner, sales director for the Albany, N.Y.-based company, the information on every PrimaLoft hang tag is translated into six languages. Whatever the market, the objective is always the same: “to justify why consumers are paying a certain price for this footwear,” Berner explained. “Hang tags are our way of educating the consumer and retailer.”
And the public is taking note, according to Berner. “Feedback is a great indication of the response,” she said, citing the regular traffic on PrimaLoft’s Website, which is mentioned on all hang tags. Many consumers who visit the site even request a free sample, giving them the opportunity to experience the product’s performance.
While PrimaLoft produces a number of insulations, PrimaLoft Eco is designed specifically for footwear. To carry out the technology’s eco theme, the hang tags are environmentally friendly, made of recycled paper and printed with soy-based inks, Berner said. “If you’re going to offer [recycled] insulation, make sure to have similar hang tags.”