The 2012 Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations are now fully in force. It is important for businesses which buy and sell clothes to take note of these new rules, which set out specific obligations concerning the requirement that textile products carry a label indicating their fibre content.

The principal aim behind the rules is to ensure that when consumers purchase a textile product they are given an accurate indication of its fibre composition - in accordance with the relevant EU regulation.

Fur & Leather Labelling

The regulations include a new requirement that the use in clothes of animal-derived materials, such as fur and leather, must be clearly labelled in a way that consumers can easily understand and is not misleading. The Government's guidance note states that the label of products containing these materials are to include the phrase “Contains non-textile parts of animal origin”.

The purpose of this change is to enable consumers to make informed choices between buying textiles containing real fur or leather - or fake fur or leather.

Packaging Labels

As with the previous labelling rules, it is not necessary to provide a sewn-in label or to print directly on to the textile product. Swing tickets or gummed labels are perfectly adequate; and if the products are offered for sale in packaging - it is sufficient simply to indicate the fibre composition on the packet. However, the label must be durable and legible.

Where clothes bearing an indication of fibre composition are on sale in transparent wrapping, as long as the label is clearly visible to the consumer, the wrapping itself need not bear an indication of the fibre content. And if a piece of cloth is supplied from a roll, it is acceptable to state the fibre composition on the roll itself.

'Pure' Clothes

A textile product may be described as ‘100%’, 'all' or ‘pure’ (e.g. '100% cotton') only if it is composed exclusively of one fibre type. No other similar expressions may be used to get around this requirement. However, it is not compulsory to use any of these descriptions when selling a pure item: For instance, a 100% cotton garment can legitimately be described simply as ‘cotton’.

The new rules also set out detailed requirements concerning woolen products, embroidered fabrics and even carpets.