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What is a Gusset and Other Promotional Product Terms

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

In the world of promotional products, there are many words that may throw you for a loop. One of the most common of these words is “gusset,” which is used in the description of many popular tote bags. You’ll also find other terms that make you feel like you’re taking a vocabulary test in elementary school all over again. It can all start to sound like a jargon-filled nightmare!

Luckily, we’re here to break it all down and make it a little less confusing. It’s time to explore some of the most common terms in the industry!

Hour Glass

A Brief History of Gussets

Before we dive into all the words, let’s focus on the least familiar, the gusset. The word itself has origins in 13th century France where it was used to describe a piece of armor for the armpit. Medieval knights could very well have been stabbed under their arms during jousting matches! The gusset kept them safe from harm’s way.

Fast forward to today and gussets are used to add durability and mobility to a variety of products. The purpose is to provide additional support and eliminate stress in particular areas.

What Are Gussets Used For?

While we don’t walk around in suits of armor as in the Middle Ages, the modern world still relies on gussets for a variety of products. Take a look at the various places you’ll find these small, handy items:

  • Clothes
  • Construction
  • Tote bags
  • Food packaging

Clothes: Clothing is a very popular place to find gussets, particularly in pants, undergarments, and collared shirts. They’re the reason why blue jeans don’t tear when you squat or bend over. In fact, many fabric products use a gusset to increase sturdiness.

The gussets found in clothing are either diamond or triangle shaped and increase range of motion and reduce stress. You’ll also find gussets in the underarms of flannel shirts. Overall, this additional piece of material makes it easier to reach to a high shelf or bend over to pick something up without worrying about your clothes embarrassingly ripping.


Construction: You’ll also find gussets used in electrical applications, construction, or plumbing. These are usually made from steel, aluminum, or other heavy metals, however, you’ll also find some made of wood. Many bridges and buildings are built with these gussets fastened into a plate by bolts, rivets, or welding.

The gusset plate, also known as the fishplate, serves as a connection at the intersection of different beams and columns used in construction. Not only are they used in giant skyscrapers and national landmarks, but they’re also handy for decks, porches, and other home improvement projects.


Tote Bags: Aside from clothing, gussets are also found in other fabric products. One of the most popular is tote bags, such as the ones used at grocery stores.

The gusset can be used in tote bags made from many different fabrics, such as canvas, leather, and cottons. This additional material makes the bags more durable and able to hold a larger amount of weight. If you’re shopping for heavy watermelons or carrying overdue library books, you don’t have to worry about your bag unexpectedly breaking.


Food Packaging: Gussets are also found in pouch bags used for food packaging. You’ll find multiple layers of plastic, aluminum, and other materials built into the bags. This addition makes it easy for the pouch to expand and hold more of an edible product.

For these bags in particular, a few different types exist depending on the product: 

  • Round bottom: This type of gusset is primarily used for bags that contain dry foods.
  • “K” style: The “K” style is less rounded than other gussets and is used for moderately heavy products.
  • Plow bottom: This gusset is commonly used for sugars and liquids, keeping the bag upright with its weight.
  • Side gusset: Bags with this type of gusset are entirely flat on the bottom and resemble a box.

Who would have thought such a small item could be so significant? From your afternoon snack to the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s a whole world out there that relies on gussets!

Fun Fact!

Metal gussets are commonly found in robots to add joint mobility!

Glossary of Promo Terms

Now that you’re a gusset guru, let’s dive into some of the other random words you may come across in promotional products.

Aglet: The aglet is the plastic part of a shoelace or the end of a hoodie string that’s used for adjustment. This piece was rumored to have been invented in the 1790s by Harvey Kennedy and sold for a staggering $2.5 million.

Armscye: The armscye is the aptly named hole your arm squeezes through when you wear your favorite t-shirts. The word itself was first used in 1825, though the hole was found in bodices and doublets dating back to the Elizabethan Era.

Barrel: The barrel is the long part of the pencil under the eraser. It’s usually printed with a company name or advertising message. Pencils became popular in the 1600s upon the discovery of plumbago graphite in Borrowdale, England.

Carabiner: These metal links are commonly found in mountain climbing, but they also make it easy for you to attach promotional water bottles or keys to a bag or backpack. The word carabiner comes from the German karabinerhaken and was first used between 1920s and 1930s.

Fourchette: This is another, less common way to refer to the shaped piece on the sides of the fingers in gloves. Even though it’s popular for winter wear, the fourchette is more commonly known as the French word for “fork.”

Grommet: Those holes on your shoe for laces are also known as grommets. However, grommets are also used to tie strings on drawstring backpacks. Sometimes called eyelet holes, this additional piece is often made of metal or plastic.

Imprint: This is another way to refer to the custom advertising message or logo printed on your product. The word “imprint” dates back to the 15th century from the Old French empreinte.

Plunger: Also known as the “clicker,” this is the top part of the pen that you push down when you’re ready to write. The earliest pens were made from goose, turkey, or swan feathers and known as quills.

The Bottom Line

The gusset is the basic building block of a lot of popular products. However, there are many other words out there you may have missed. Whether you print your company name on a barrel or use a carabiner to hold your car keys, these small items pack a serious promotional punch.

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She has a BA in English & Communications and has written for Counselor Magazine and The Bolingbrook Sun. If you need her, you’ll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.


Online Etymology Dictionary. (2018). Gusset. Retrieved March 15, 2018, from

ABC Packaging Direct. (2018). Different Styles of Gussets for Pouch Bags. Retrieved March 15, 2018, from

Cave, J. (2016, June 22). Behold, The Aglet: That Thing on the End of Your Shoelace. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from

Sempstress. (2010, March 25). Armscye, Front/Back Armscye. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from

Gallantry. (2016, August 8). The History of Carabiners. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from

Online Etymology Dictionary. (2018). Imprint. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from