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Cotton vs Polyester vs Taffeta in Garment Labels: Which Substrate Should You Choose to Print On?

Posted by David Lee on Jan 18, 2023 1:00:00 PM

A clothing rack with multiple fabric shirts and t-shirts with someone picking between the cotton and polyester labels to print on for these clothes

When you’re planning your customer’s garment label printing requirements, one of the most important decisions to make is which type of fabric to use. Cotton, polyester, and taffeta are common options, each of which offers advantages and disadvantages and are suited to different types of printing methods, which we will outline in this article.



Comprising natural fibres derived from the genus Gossypium, cotton has been used for over 7,000 years in clothing manufacture, and is suitable for silk screen, flexo, digital inkjet, and pad printing.

The pros

  • Cotton is an entirely natural, organic, biodegradable, and renewable fabric, so will complement your business’s eco-friendly policies and appeal to consumers concerned about sustainability.
  • Comfortable when in direct contact with the skin, cotton is ideal for use in garments – especially children’s and babies' clothes - as it doesn’t cause irritation or discomfort.
  • Ink on cotton labels does not fade or bleed; brand and garment information can also be sewn on.

The cons

  • Cotton has a limited colour base, so manufacturers will need to consider whether label colour is important.
  • 100 per cent cotton labels will often fray due to the softness of the fabric; a poly-cotton blend offers greater stability and durability.
  • The small, detailed text is difficult to produce on cotton while maintaining high definition.


A synthetic fabric derived from petroleum; polyester is a popular textile used in thousands of applications. It is used for flexo, hot stamp, thermal transfer, and digital inkjet printing.

The pros

  • Polyester is an excellent print medium as it can support highly detailed text, such as washing instructions.
  • Durable and robust, even in high temperatures, polyester is a good choice as it can be washed without fading or fraying. Because it is weatherproof, it is suitable for the inside of jackets and coats.
  • Polyester is available in a variety of combination fabrics, including satin polyester, coated polyester, and 100 per cent polyester, offering garment manufacturers greater choice and flexibility.
  • Soft to the touch, polyester is ideal for labels that will touch the skin.
  • It can be dyed any colour for branding.

The cons

  • For the best quality, polyester printing requires several finishing processes, so production times are longer.
  • In warm temperatures, polyester labels may stick to the user’s skin, so less suitable for workout garments or summer wear, performance sportswear & underwear.


Taffeta is a crisp woven fabric often made from silk but is frequently woven with synthetic textiles, such as polyester, acetate, or nylon. It can be printed using flexo, hot stamp, thermal transfer, and digital inkjet methods.

The pros

  • Taffeta is a low-cost ribbon, used in cheaper garments to keep prices low.
  • It is cheap to manufacture and easy to mass produce.
  • Taffeta can be printed on easily using many methods.

The cons

  • Taffeta is non-breathable so will stick to the user’s skin in hot weather. Therefore, it is unsuited for skin contact applications.
  • Taffeta has the appearance and texture of a cheap fabric so would not complement a luxury brand.
  • The edge of a taffeta label can be stiff, which can cause itchiness or skin irritation.

Get in touch to find out more

For professional advice about all aspects of garment label printing, please call the experts at Focus Label on 01949 836223.

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Image Source: Pexels

Topics: Label Printing Machine, Textile Label Printing, Biodegradable Label Materials

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