The correct labeling of clothing depends on the countries you want to access. It can be supported by formal and substantial evaluations of the indications to be reported, including the analysis of chemical and microscopic fibers’ content.
We interviewed our Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Softline technical expert, Angela Donati, to answer some questions on the maintenance and composition labeling we received from luxury brands worldwide.
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Question: For the maintenance label, does the ongoing revision of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 3758 foresee a harmonization of the requirements at a global level?
Angela: Harmonization on a global level is one of the goals that we would like to achieve, but there are two main obstacles. The first one is a misalignment in the update dates of the standards. For example, the Japanese standard on maintenance symbols was revised in 2014 and is closely related to the current version of ISO 3758. Therefore, with the revision of ISO 3758, differences could arise that will be only be filled when the Japanese rule is revised again. The second obstacle is linked to the payment of royalties to GINETEX. Some countries, such as the United States, have decided to maintain their norm (for the United States it is the ASTM, which has different symbols) in order not to be required to pay those royalties.
Question: In apparel labels, we often find the symbol “do not bleach” because it is the safest in terms of colorfastness. Is this way of acting acceptable in the United States?
Angela: The United States has a federal law in place, so it is impossible to label the garment with the symbol “do not bleach” if chlorinated and nonchlorinated bleach does not damage the product.
In general, from the analysis we carry out every day in our laboratories, about 90% of the fabrics have good colorfastness to the chlorine-free bleach. Therefore we ask the producers to label them correctly with the words “only non-chlorine bleach when needed.” This recommendation is also valid for all other destination countries.
Question: Regarding fiber content tolerances, do the same rules apply in the United States for products containing wool?
Angela: The Wool Act and Rules do not provide any tolerance for the content of wool products. However, the Wool Act establishes that variations to the declared fiber content are not mistakenly labeled if “the deviation resulted from inevitable variations in production and despite the exercise of due care in making accurate statements” on the label. For practical purposes, the commission will apply a 3% tolerance for other textile products to wool products. Also, in this case, therefore, the tolerance does not apply if the label indicates that the product is entirely in wool, for example, 100% wool or 100% cashmere, and the garment must be all wool or all cashmere.
Question: For the Chinese market, in the case of an item sold in a package, is it mandatory to report the fiber content on the packaging?
Angela: If the fiber content labeled on the garment is visible from the outside of the packaging, e.g., if it is a box with a transparent window, it is not necessary to report the fiber content also on the packaging. On the contrary, if the fiber content is not visible, this must be reported both on the article and on the packaging.
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