CARE LABELLING | THE BASICS
Is your Business' Care Labelling up to scratch? CTF Member Pinakin Chaubal of APN Performance Testing lends a hand in navigating the ins and outs of Care Labelling for clothing in Australia.
On meeting with several fashion industry businesses, one topic surfaced repeatedly – care labels. While a full understanding of compliance is outside the scope of this article, it is aimed at general awareness about the topic.
We’ve all heard about product liability claims in which a relatively inexpensive dress stained that expensive lounge suite. The secret most certainly rests in what the care label attached to the dress contained - or rather, did not!
SO WHAT IS A CARE LABEL & WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
A care label is attached to textile products including clothing, furnishing, suede skins, leathers and furs, and must have adequate and appropriate care labelling instructions.
A care label intends to inform consumers how to clean the article, care for it, maximise its useful life, avoid damage during cleaning and provide knowledge about the ongoing costs of cleaning (e.g. dry cleaning).
The direct benefit of correctly labelled textile and clothing products is keeping customers happy for a long time. Protecting against claims associated with care of the article is yet another benefit. Whether you are a textile or clothing supplier, manufacturer, designer, distributor, retailer, e-tailer or anything in between; adequate and appropriate care labelling of prescribed textile and clothing products is mandatory under the Trade Practices legislation.
Care instructions need to take into account what warnings (e.g. Do not dry clean), cleaning treatment (washing, dry cleaning, wipe cleaning etc.), drying and ironing methods are adequate for the article. In particular this includes:
- How these treatments affect the change in colour and visual appearance of the article itself;
- Its tendency to stain other items it comes in contact with; and
- How well it retains its shape after cleaning.
WORDS & SYMBOLS
Care instructions must be in English and care symbols alone are not sufficient. In Australia, dry cleaning instructions must be provided in words plus symbols; the rest of the instructions need to be in words only. Extra information such as care symbols or instructions in other languages may be provided. Of course, depending on the target market(s), articles can carry care instructions to satisfy legal requirements of all intended markets. That explains why globally marketed apparel brands often carry detailed labels satisfying every target market’s legal requirements.
CONSIDER THE WHOLE GARMENT. FABRIC & TRIM.
Businesses need to understand and respond to the fact that the care instructions they receive from their material suppliers are applicable only to that raw material. As an example, a red polyester/cotton/elastane fabric that gets used in a dress comes with its own care instructions. After that red fabric is incorporated with, say, white trim, interlining, foam pads and beads into the finished product, it is highly likely that the care instructions of the red fabric no longer apply to the integrated product. The beads may dissolve in the dry cleaning solvent leaving a mess, the contrast trim may get permanently stained, and the interlining may get crumpled. This is likely to lead to valid product quality claims from consumers and/or dry cleaners. Of course, the supplier of the red fabric in question would have supplied care instructions for their fabric only. Those no longer solely apply even though a majority of the dress contains the red fabric. Now believe me, I didn’t mean to scare you; but if you don’t exercise care (pun intended), you will break your customer’s heart! In time, this is likely to be met with demands for compensation.
In order to ensure compliance and ongoing customer satisfaction with clothing products, it makes sense to have a dedicated employee or team look after care labels. Where necessary, raw materials and/or finished articles need to be tested with a view of coming up with suitable care instructions.
WANT MORE INFO?
You can download a free copy of the Care Labelling Supplier Guide below via Product Safety Australia :