Munich. For the second time in a row, textiles, clothing and fashion items occupy the notorious top of the list in the European Commission's RAPEX Annual Report. The report assembles reports of products available on the European Single Market that pose a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers. To be on the safe side when shopping, TÜV SÜD advises consumers to make use of the full range of information available to them, and to be guided by recognized quality marks.
The quality and safety regulations that apply to textiles, adult clothing, and fashion items in the European Union are less numerous and less strict than those for toys, or children's clothing. According to TÜV SÜD, the regulations primarily address issues of chemical safety for textiles and shoes. Given the rapid pace of the fashion industry, quality assurance and the product testing associated with it are challenging tasks.
Individual companies take different approaches in dealing with general quality standards - from compliance with the statutory minimum standards, to ambitious in-house quality programs. The experts at TÜV SÜD recommend that consumers seeking guidance before purchasing make use of all the information channels available to them. These range from information on manufacturers' websites and information material from official regional and national bodies, associations, and consumer protection organizations to the EU's consumer protection system RAPEX (Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Consumer Products), which lists dangerous products at www.rapex.eu, and summarizes the entries in an annual report.
As a general rule, consumers should be aware that products at lower prices may well compromise over quality. However, in the view of the TÜV SÜD experts, quality standards from low-cost suppliers are not necessarily any lower than premium-price branded products. Guidance in making purchase decisions based on quality is offered by quality marks such as the TexCheck mark for textiles or the TÜV SÜD Footwear Mark and the "Tested for Fit" certification mark for shoes and footwear.
- The TexCheck mark proves that an item of clothing has undergone a battery of product tests and factory inspections. Testing focuses on chemical safety. The mark provides proof that the clothing is free from products or substances that are potentially harmful to health. In addition, the composition of the fabric fibers is analyzed in detail as a key criterion of clothing quality.
- The TÜV SÜD Footwear Markdocuments that the shoes and their manufacturer have passed a comprehensive catalogue of product tests and factory inspections. In this case testing focuses on the EU chemicals regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and on other EU ordinances governing hazardous substances, the criteria in the U.S. CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), and substances listed in the RSL (Restricted Substance List) of major retail chains. The specialists at TÜV SÜD can also test further characteristics such as sole adhesion, shape retention or specific product attributes such as "waterproof," at the request of manufacturers, importers or retailers.
- Buying new shoes for childrenis a special challenge for parents. Children are unable to judge whether a shoe fits correctly, simply choosing their favorite style and color - although good-quality and well-fitting footwear is essential to allow children's feet to develop properly. The "Tested for Fit" certification mark is TÜV SÜD's confirmation that the sizing of children's shoes is reliable and standardized. The quality mark also serves as guidance for consumers ordering children's footwear on the Internet.
The experts at TÜV SÜD address thequality and safety of clothing and shoes in meticulous in-depth testing, ranging from tests of product quality, environmental performance and safety to factory inspections, audits and certifications, and even training courses for manufacturers. In addition, TÜV SÜD provides assistance for companies seeking to document their compliance with international Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. The company's expert services are represented at over 600 locations worldwide. Testing for the textile and footwear industries is primarily done in the countries of production.
For more information, see www.tuev-sued.de/textil.
Note for editorial staff: The photo of the Softline laboratory can be downloaded in printable resolution from the "Media photos" section at www.tuev-sued.de/pressefotos.
Dr. Thomas Oberst
TÜV SÜD AG
Westendstr. 199, 80686 Munich
Tel.+49 (0) 89 / 57 91 - 23 72
TÜV SÜD Product Service GmbH is a globally active organization testing, inspecting and certifying product safety, quality, and usability. With approximately 1,700 employees, the organization offers expertise in all current product standards and market requirements.
TÜV SÜD is a leading international service organization catering to the strategic business segments INDUSTRY, MOBILITY, and CERTIFICATION. Over 16,000 employees are represented at more than 600 locations throughout the world. Optimizing technology, systems, and know-how, the interdisciplinary specialist teams act as process partners to strengthen their customers' competitiveness.