Clothing label translation is one of our top specialisms. Like all areas of translation, clothing labels require specialist treatment by your translators. You may think that they are simple, after all, they are often only a few words. However, this is actually the problem. A narrative text is actually easier to translate, because the text is in context. A fibre composition, for example, may be just one or two words describing the part of the garment. Many generic English textile terms have a range of possible translations.
Translating wash care instructions
We have been translating wash care instructions and fibre comps into over 60 languages since the early 1990s. Our client include many leading fashion brands and retailers. Clothing label translations can be especially tricky for the unwary. This is not only because typically the wording is very short, but also the lack of context.
We work very closely with our regular label translation clients. This ensures we use accurate and appropriate terminology. Typically Latin based languages have to be very precise. This can cause problems when translating from English, which can be very ambiguous. For example, let’s consider the phrase “neck and sleeve trim”. Does the word “trim” refer to both items (the neck and the sleeve), or one item only (the sleeve)?
Context in clothing label translation
Both options are possible here, and it depends on the context. We know the phrase is for a fibre composition, (e.g. “neck and sleeve trim 100% polyester”). However, for the neck, does the composition refer to the whole of the neck, or a neck trim? If you had the garment in front of you, it would probably be straightforward to decide which was appropriate. However, normally our clients don’t have direct sight of the garment.
There is also the possibility of ambiguity in the target languages. For example, Spanish has two possible terms for “trim” depending on the context, (an “edge” trim, or an adornment). The solution to this, is that we work closely with clients to give the greatest possible clarity about the context. We also use the most generic terms possible in translation. Where necessary we can give alternative translations with context advice to make clear when each translation should be used.
You can read more on this topic on our care label translation page. Our Mothercare and New Look case studies may also be of interest.
Speak to us today about any aspect of clothing label translation on +44 115 9788980.