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There are four key areas that need to be considered when labelling garments: Fibre Content, Country of Origin, Care Instructions and Flammability.
Whilst the rules across the EU are similar they are not the same in all areas. The USA and Japan also have different requirements and details are available to download below. A useful overview of the requirements in all countries can also be found in the labelling database below.
Fibre content labelling in apparel and textiles is mandatory in the UK as laid down in the 2012 Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations. The basis of these Regulations is that the label must include information on the main fibre types used and their percentages - for example wool 80%, cotton 20%. The information given must be understandable by a consumer in the market in to which you are selling. It is not sufficient just to use English if you are exporting to the EU. A Guidance Note to these Regulations - created by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - is available below.
Separate Regulations exist dealing with footwear. A copy of the Guidance Notes on Footwear Labelling is available below.
Country of Origin
Country of origin labelling is, generally speaking, not compulsory in the EU. However, it is necessary to have an origin label if, without such a label, the consumer could be misled as to the true origin of the garment. For instance, if a garment carried the British flag on it but it was made in Hong Kong, then the garment should include a label to that effect. Fraudulent origin labelling is illegal.
UKFT is now the UK representative of GINETEX, the organisation that owns access to all garment care labelling symbols.
The inclusion of washing instructions is not mandatory in the UK; however, it is strongly encouraged. We would always recommend the use of GINETEX symbols - the system used throughout Europe.
For the five main symbols and more detailed information plus an explanation on how to use them please download our info document at the bottom of this section, or visit: www.care-labelling.co.uk
Please note the symbols are protected by trademarks and there is a fee to use them in many European countries.
Flammability - Nightwear
Nightwear and garments commonly worn as nightwear are subject to certain labelling requirements concerning their flammability. Children's nightwear must satisfy the flammability requirements specified in British Standard 5722. Babies' garments and adults’ nightwear must carry a permanent label showing whether or not they meet the Flammability Standard. Further information on this labelling of nightwear is contained in `A Guide to the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985'. A copy is available below.
Following the publication of BS EN 14878 Textiles - Burning behaviour of children's nightwear - Specification, in November 2008 a new Advisory Note on the Requirement for Safety of Children's Nightwear has been produced. A copy is available below
Flammability - Netherlands
From 1 May 2008, clothing sold in the Netherlands must meet minimum burning behaviour requirements. MODINT, the Dutch Clothing Association has entered into an agreement with the government regarding these requirements. A copy of the agreement, which gives details on the minimum burning behaviour of fabrics is available below.
MODINT, have also produced a guide to help companies asses if their fabrics/garments need to be tested. A copy of this guidance is also available below
If you are showing outside the EU, EEA or EFTA, or visiting on a sales trip, duties and taxes are payable on your goods, even though they may be "samples". The simplest way of getting samples into one of these markets outside Europe is to use an ATA Carnet.
The ATA Carnet is the international Customs document which allows the temporary export and import of commercial samples, professional equipment and goods going to a trade fair or exhibition without duties or taxes.
Full details on the ATA Carnet and how it works are available to members below.
Put at its simplest, a Standard is an agreed, repeatable way of doing something. It is a published document that contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline or definition. Standards help to make life simpler and to increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use.
In the UK the British Standards Institution (BSI) undertakes the process of standardisation. BSI in turn works in conjunction with CEN, the European Standards Body and ISO, the International Standards Organisation.
Why use a Standard?
Standards are a powerful tool for companies. Compliance with BSI, CEN or ISO Standards mark your products out as reliable and ready for the market. Standards are useful not only to show your garments are technically up to the mark but a great way of differentiating your product from cheaper alternatives. In many case retailers will specify that garments supplied to them must meet certain performance criteria - very often this means complying with a BSI, CEN or ISO Standard.
How is UKFT involved?
Any Standard is a collective work. Committees of manufacturers, users, research organizations, Government departments and consumers work together to draw up Standards that evolve to meet the demands of society and technology.
There are a number of BSI Committees that impact on the clothing and textile industry:
BSI TCI/66 Apparel and Interior Textiles
BSI TCI/24 Physical Testing of Textiles
BSI TCI/80 Chemical Testing of Textiles
BSI TCI/81 Colourfastness and Colour Measurement of Textiles
BSI TCI/82 Textiles care labelling, dry cleaning, domestic laundering and drying
UKFT sits on all of theses Committees.
UKFT has been instrumental in the development of a huge range of Standards that many members use on a daily basis. If you have your products tested to ensure they carry the correct care label, UKFT staff will have been involved. And if you supply childrenswear, you will have used the Code of Practice on Mechanical Safety of Childrenswear (BS7907), which UKFT staff helped to write.
UKFT also regularly attend European and International Standards meetings, representing both the views of members and, often, the interests of the UK industry as a whole.
Information about forthcoming Standards will be published in the UKFT Newsletter. Members who are keen to have their voice heard as draft Standards are published and be involved in the Standards making process should contact: email@example.com
Legal Status of Standards
Standards by themselves are not pieces of legislation and it is only compulsory to follow them if they are referred to in legislation e.g. the Nightwear Safety Regulations make specific reference to BS5722.
However, under the General Safety Products Safety Directive (GPSD), it is compulsory for manufacturers to make, suppliers to supply and retailers to sell a ‘safe product’. This legislation applies to all products, not just clothing and textiles.
There is no definition of what constitutes a safe product, but following any Standard that exists and carrying out a risk assessment of the reasonably foreseeable uses of a product are two pieces of advice that we give. A good example of this is BS 14682 Safety of Children’s Clothing – cords and drawstrings on children’s clothing – Specifications, which Trading Standards Officers are using in order to satisfy themselves that a child’s garment is ‘safe’.
How do I ensure my products comply with a Standard?
UKFT is keen to encourage its members to embrace Standards as a way of maintaining quality and ensuring a point of difference. Staff will talk you through the main steps required to meet a Standard, from finding a suitable testing house to undertake compliance testing, to giving access to experts who can explain the technical requirements. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase any BSI. CEN or ISO Standards visit the BSI bookshop www.bsonline.bsi-global.com
Many countries while active within either CEN or ISO also maintain their own national Standards. Follow the links for details of the Standards Bodies in key markets:
There are no standard sizes in the industry. This is for a very good reason – the human body does not come in a standard size.
However, there has been significant work on trying to harmonise the sizing process across Europe and UKFT were involved in this work. The discussions at CEN have not lead to an agreed size coding system although discussion in this area is on-going.
What has been achieved however is BS EN 13402 Size Designation of Clothes Parts 1 – 3. Part 1 of the Standard sets of the agreed procedures for taking body measurements. Part 2 gives the agreed primary and secondary dimensions and Part 3 defines the measurements and intervals.
To help companies UKFT have produced an international sizing chart which shows the comparisons between UK sizes and sizing systems in EU countries and in the USA. The chart also gives information on footwear sizing. A copy is available below:
Origin is the "economic" nationality of goods in international trade. There are two kinds, non-preferential and preferential.
Non-preferential origin confers an "economic" nationality on goods. It is used for determining the origin of products subject to all kinds of commercial policy measures (such as anti-dumping measures, quantitative restrictions) or tariff quotas. It is also used for statistical purposes. Other provisions, such as those related to public tenders or origin marking, are also linked with the non-preferential origin of the products. In addition, the EU's export refunds in the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy are often based on non-preferential origin.
Preferential origin confers certain benefits on goods traded between particular countries, namely entry at a reduced or zero rate of duty.
In either case, an important element in determining the origin of goods is their tariff classification. Goods in trade are identified in the Community by a code number in the Combined Nomenclature (CN) and before trying to determine their origin it is essential that their CN code has been identified.
Movement of goods within Customs unions is not based on their originating status but on the fact that they comply with provisions on free circulation. However, some products in trade with the countries concerned do not fall within the scope of the customs union but remain subject to a preferential treatment based on origin.
The EU has a number of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in place altready - with South Africa (since 1999), Mexico (since 2000), Chile (since 2002) and South Korea (since 2012).
The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into effect on a provisional basis on 1st July 2011. Under the agreement, goods manufactured in the EU can be exported to South Korea on a duty-free basis.
There is now a requirement to register as an “approved exporter” this replaces the requirement for an EUR1 Movement Certificate as proof of origin and is necessary for all exports under the preferential arrangement. Exporters will need to insert the approval number in the body of the origin/invoice declaration which the South Korean importer will need to support a claim to preference, and thereby duty-free status.
For the temporary importation of samples to South Korea, exporters are still strongly advised to have an ATA Carnet. Ask UKFT if you would like more information on this.
UKFT members can access advice on how to complete the approved exporter form below.
The EU is currently negotiating a number of FTAs, including with India, Mercosur, Canada, Ukraine and Singapore. Members of UKFT are regularly update on changes to international trade regulations in the UKFT monthly newsletter.
The UK Fashion & Textile Association is pleased to report that there appears to be significant progress on the vital issue of Free Trade Agreements with a number of key trading partners. UKFT has been an active supporter of FTAs for many years and we successfully campaigned for and supported the FTA bid for South Korea. Now we are pushing hard for an EU-US and an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement, in accordance with our Manifesto which was launched at the House of Commons in March 2012. Please visit (link) to read the latest update prepared on the Department of Business and Skills for an update on where we are on these and other FTAs.