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Product Safety- background

Manufacturers of apparel are increasingly called upon to verify various aspects of a product.  Traditionally apparel suppliers have offered goods that were properly constructed, well sized and had other attributes.  Increasingly suppliers must do that, but also be able to monitor many other aspects of the product: its flammability, washability, the conditions in the factory where it was produced etc.

These additional demands place a significant burden on manufacturers, and become a major concern in terms of how products (and piece goods and trim) are sourced and how the information on these materials and processes are managed internally.

The companies able to operate in this environment are those that can bring together this information effectively, and understand that all aspects of the product must be considered as goods are sourced and brought to market.  Managing these processes well becomes a competitive strength. Managing the risks associated with various product standards is good business.

Product standards in Canada and the United States

In both Canada and the United States any dealer of merchandise is responsible for the product they introduce in the marketplace.  That being said, in the United States this is far more explicit, and

U.S. - "Reasonable Basis"

You must have a reasonable basis for labelling information.  That means you must have reliable evidence to support the care instructions. For example, you cannot say "Dryclean Only" unless you have proof that washing is harmful to the garment. What constitutes reliable evidence depends on several factors.

  • In some cases, experience and industry expertise can serve as a reasonable basis.
  • In other instances - for example, when a dye is used that is known to bleed or when beads that are known to be damaged often in drycleaning are used - test results showing that the garment can be cleaned as recommended without damage may be required.
  • When a garment contains several components, you must have reliable evidence showing that the garment as a whole will not be damaged when cleaned as directed. Results of tests on components of garments can serve as a reasonable basis as long as you have reliable evidence supporting the care instructions for the garment as a whole. For example, testing the components of a garment is not an adequate basis for a "wash" instruction if the color of one part bleeds onto another when the finished garment is washed.

The same considerations apply to issues of flammability or other product standards.

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