Labeling Laws 101: Textile Rules and Wool Rules
The Federal Trade Commission (hereinafter FTC), an independent agency of the United States government, was established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act to help eliminate anticompetitive business practices and promote consumer protection. The FTC continues to amend and enforce regulations and requirements for textile labels.
One of the regulations enforced by the FTC is the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (hereinafter Textile Rules). The Textile Rules is a “statute [that] deals with mandatory content disclosure in the labeling, invoicing, and advertising of textile fiber products. Under the Act, misbranding is unlawful, as is falsely or deceptively invoicing or advertising textile fiber products. The [Textile Rules] also directs the Commission to establish a generic name for each man-made fiber that does not as yet have such a name.”
In June of 2014, the FTC “amended its rules and regulations under the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939 (hereinafter Wool Rules) to conform to the requirements [set forth] in the Wool Suit Fabric Labeling Fairness and International Standards Conforming Act, which revised the labeling requirements for cashmere and certain other wool products, and align with the amended rules and regulations under the [Textile Rules]."
In addition to the Textile Rules and Wool Rules, the FTC also enforces the Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel & Certain Piece Goods, which requires care labels for clothing, as well as the Fur Products Labeling Act (hereinafter Fur Act), which regulates the labeling requirements of those who manufacture, import or sell fur garments.
This article will specifically focus on the labeling requirements set forth by the Textile Rules and Wool Rules.
Product Label Requirements
Federal labeling requirements for textile and wool products require that most of these products have:
a label listing the fiber content comprised of 5% or more of the fiber weight unless it is wool or recycled wool or it has a definite functional significance at that amount, then anything under 5% must be disclosed;
a country of origin, which does not include the origin of the parts of the product that are exempt from content disclosure, like zippers or buttons; and
an identification of the manufacturer or another business responsible for marketing or handling the item by its full name or the Registered Identification Number (RN).
The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, 15 U.S.C. § 70, et seq., and the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, 15 U.S.C. § 68, et seq.
Who is Exempt From Following the Requirements?
The labeling requirements apply to anyone who manufacturers, imports, sells, offers to sell, distributes or advertises products covered by the Textile Rules and Wool Rules except:
a common carrier or contract carrier shopping or delivering textile products in the ordinary course of business,
a processor or finisher working under contract to a manufacturer (unless the fiber content was changed and is contrary to the terms of the contract),
a manufacturer or seller of textile products for export only, or
an advertising agency or publisher disseminating ads or promotional material about textile products.
15 U.S.C. § 70a(d)(5); 16 C.F.R. § 303.31.
Applicable When Products Are Ready to Sell to Consumers
Since the FTC seeks to protect consumers, “the labeling requirements do not apply until the products are ready for sale to consumers.” During the stages of production, if an item is shipped or delivered and not labeled with the required information, it must include an invoice that includes:
disclosure of the fiber,
country of origin,
identification of the manufacturer or dealer, and
name and address of the person or company issuing the invoice.
15 U.S.C. § 70a(d)(5); 16 C.F.R. § 303.31.
Although the FTC only requires an invoice during stages of production, United States Customs and Border Protection (hereinafter Customs) has country of origin requirements that are separate from the Textile Rules. For example, Customs may demand that an unfinished product be marked with the country of origin.
While labels on garments with care instructions are required to be permanent, labels with the required information set forth above, including fiber; country of origin; and identification of manufacturer or business responsible for marketing or handling the item, only need to be attached securely until the product is delivered to the consumer.
If the garment has a neck, the label disclosing the country of origin must be attached to the center of the neck with the country of origin on its front. The country of origin label cannot be covered or obscured by any other label. The fiber content and manufacturer or dealer identity can be found on the front or back of the same label or on another conspicuous and accessible label(s) on the inside or outside of the garment. For example, putting a label on the inside of a pant or skirt pocket is not conspicuous or accessible.
Keep a Record of Compliance
A traceable record showing the required label information for all textile products must be kept by manufacturers of textile products to show that the statute requirements and rules were met. 15 U.S.C. § 70d and § 68d(b); 16 C.F.R. § 303.39 and § 300.31.
This article is simply a sample of the label requirements established and enforced by the FTC. As mentioned above, the Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel & Certain Piece Goods and the Fur Act also include additional requirements.