|Wedding Gown Labels, What the Law Requires
from the Federal Trade Commission brochure
"Wedding Gown Labels: Unveiling the Requirements"
(February 26, 1999)
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The purchase of your wedding gown is one of the most wonderful and exciting events of your life.
It is quite possibly also one of the most extravagant purchases, considering that it will be
worn just once. No doubt, you will be thinking mainly about style and price. Many brides have
learned the "hard way," that they should also have been concerned about the label on their
wedding gown. That label should include the name of the manufacturer, fiber content, country of origin and care instructions. The information contained on that little tag can save the bride a great deal of heartache and disappointment.
Knowing the fabric content of a gown may be important for one of several reasons. It will determine
how the gown should be cleaned. It will alert the bride to possible irritants or allergies to particular fabric content
and, lastly it will affect resale value. The Federal Trade Commission is trying to make sure that brides-to-be get what they pay for when
they buy a wedding dress - including all the information that federal law requires on wearing apparel.
A wedding gown must have all the required labeling information when it leaves the manufacturer. Under the Textile Act, it is illegal to remove a label containing manufacturer, fiber content or country-of-origin information without substituting another label with the required information. For example, a retailer who wants to remove a label identifying the manufacturer, must substitute it with a label that lists the shop's own name or RN, or the name or RN of someone else in the gown distribution chain. In addition, the substituted label must contain all the information that is required on the original label. All substitute labels must be properly attached to the gown, either sewn in or on a conspicuously placed hang-tag. Finally, a retailer must not remove the sewn-in care instructions.
The emergence of discount ordering services, through toll-free telephone numbers or the Internet, has spurred some retailers to remove disclosure labels from their gowns. It is not against the law to remove manufacturers' labels and replace them with a store's own labels, but it is illegal to sell or show a gown that doesn't have the required information at all.
Wedding gown manufacturers must keep records that show the information required on the label (manufacturer or dealer identity or RN, fiber content, and country of origin) for every garment they produce. The records, which must be kept for three years, should show that the letter of the law has been met and establish a traceable line from the raw materials to the finished product.
In addition, any business that substitutes a label on a textile product, such as a wedding gown retailer, also must keep records for three years that show what information on the label was removed and the name of the party from whom the product was received.
Any violation of the Textile Act regulations or the Care Labeling Rule is considered an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the FTC Act. As a remedy, the Commission may issue an administrative order prohibiting the unlawful behavior. Violations of an administrative order can result in a federal district court action for civil penalties up to $11,000 per violation. Businesses not subject to a previous administrative order also can be subject to monetary civil penalties, an injunction, and other remedies, including consumer redress, in a federal district court action for knowingly engaging in practices. such as mislabeling garments, that the Commission has determined in prior cases to be unfair or deceptive.
For violations of the Care Labeling Rule by a manufacturer or importer, the Commission may seek an injunction in federal district court and civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. A retailer who removes care labels from garments may be held liable for unfair and deceptive acts or practices under the FTC Act and may be the subject of an administrative order. Violations of such orders can result in an action for civil penalties in federal district court.
Each instance of mislabeling under the textile laws and the Care Labeling Rule may be considered a separate violation.
For More Information
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the online complaint form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSUMER 1-877-FTC-HELP www.ftc.gov
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