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When did ink tag start


Spawned by the bank dye packs, the first ink tag product designed to protect apparel was introduced in Europe in March 1984 by a Swedish company—Fargklamman AB (also known as Color Tag). The original version had two four-inch long plastic “straps” connected at one end by a hinge. One side housed two pharmaceutical grade vials containing nontoxic but foul-smelling dye, along with two needles to puncture the fabric. The other side housed the receptacles for the needles, along with the lock and the small plastic piston required to open it. They were heavy and expensive (about $6.00 each).

Color Tags were rugged and were able to withstand the rigors of repeated use within retail stores. They were difficult to force open with tools without incident, but the vials didn’t just break, they exploded. When that happened the garment was, indeed, ruined.

As with conventional EAS hard tags, Color Tags were to be removed at the point of sale. A blast of compressed air was needed to push the piston to unlatch the bolt and hook keeping two sides of the tag together. The compressor was not user-friendly. It usurped precious space at the checkout stand, required a dedicated electrical outlet, and cost $800.

Notwithstanding the safety, liability, and operational issues surrounding the product, and the general lack of understanding of the deterrence concept behind the idea, Color Tag successfully marketed the products in several European countries. It took a while, but a few visionary American retailers, such as Dave Whitney of Ross Stores, Inc., conducted small-scale trials starting around 1986. But the product remained an “oddity.”