In the final part of our Garment Labeling 101 series we explore proper labeling of fabric content on garments sold in the USA. Along with the identity of the manufacturer or seller and the country of origin, a garment label must include the fiber content of the item. The main principles are fairly straightforward, but there are important caveats and requirements that apply in certain cases.
In general, you must list the fibers by their generic name in descending order according to their percentage of fiber weight in the fabric, if they make up 5 percent or more of the fiber weight. If the fiber makes up less than 5 percent of the total fiber weight, then it should be listed as “other fiber,” unless it serves a functional purpose in the garment at that lower percentage—think spandex added for elasticity. Another important exception is wool—you must always list the presence of wool or recycled wool in a garment at any percentage.
Other parts of a garment do not need to be considered for fiber content labeling. For instance, you do not have to list non-fiber items such as zippers, buttons, sequins, beads, etc. Certain trimmings do not have to be counted for labeling purposes, such as collars and cuffs. Decorative trimming and ornamentation may not need their fiber content disclosed if they cover less than 15 percent of the surface of the garment or make up less than 5 percent of the fiber weight, but the label will need to include “exclusive of decoration” or “exclusive of ornamentation” to clarify that the fiber content listed applies only to the main body of the garment.
Again, the purpose of these rules is to provide clear information to the consumer. For all the ins and outs, consult the FTC’s guide on labeling requirements.