Laws on Clothing Label Requirements

By Leann Harms
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The information required on clothing labels is governed under two separate laws established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Textile and Wool Acts require that labels contain three pieces of information pertaining to the garment: fiber content, country of origin, and manufacturer, importer or dealer. The Care Labeling Rule requires that care instructions for the garment also be revealed. There are specific parameters within each of the four required pieces of information.

Contents

Labels on clothing products covered by the Textile and Wool Acts must disclose the fiber contents of the article in descending order of percentage, according to the FTC. Non-fibrous materials such as buttons and zippers do not have to be included. A five percent rule is applied for fibers without functional significance to the garment. If nylon is added for durability (a functional significance) but the garment is only comprised of 4 percent nylon, this must be disclosed; however, if several non-functional fibers are added, they can be written as a total percentage and labeled “other fibers.” Trimmings and decorative items, such as braiding and belting, not exceeding 15 percent of the garment, are exempt from labeling requirements. Ornamentation not exceeding five percent of the garment is also excluded, but the phrase “Exclusive of Ornamentation” should appear after the percentages and fibers. Linings should be listed separately. Fibers should be referred to by their generic names.

Origin

The Textile and Wool Acts also require that clothing labels disclose the fabric’s country of origin. A product can be labeled “Made in the U.S.A.” only if it is made in the United States and is comprised of materials from the United States. If the materials used to make the garment were imported, it should be labeled “Made in the U.S.A. of imported materials.”

Manufacturer, Importer or Dealer

Labels must also include the company name or registered identification number (RN) of the manufacturer, importer or other firm handling the product, according to the FTC. The FTC issues RNs to U.S. companies that manufacture, import or otherwise handle textiles. If the product is imported, the label may state the name of the manufacturer or the RN of the importer, wholesaler or retailer.

Garment Care

Under the FTC’s Care Labeling Rule, garments must include labels that disclose care instructions for the consumer’s benefit. These instructions must be complete and accurate to provide care for the life of the garment. If any harm could come to the garment, it should be noted. For instance, if a garment cannot be ironed, the label should state “Do Not Iron.” Care labels should be clear and legible and durable enough to last the life of the garment.

Placement

All of the required labeling information can be included on one label or separate labels. Other information, such as garment size, can also be included on the same label as long as it doesn’t detract from any required information. Fiber content must be listed using the same type size and style. Labels must be attached to the garment until it reaches the consumer. Any garment with a neck must contain the country of origin label on the inside center or near center of the neck. Other labels must be placed in conspicuous and accessible locations.

About the Author

Based in South Florida, Leann Harms has been writing since 2008. Her design, technology, business and entertainment articles have appeared in "Design Trade" magazine and Web sites including eHow. Harms has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University.