As far back as the 1970s, the need to align legislation on textile names in Member States was recognised by the European Commission. Differences in textile fibre names across Member States created a technical barrier to trade in the European single market and hindered consumer interests.
In 1971, a Directive was adopted to harmonise the names of textile products and their labelling on the items themselves and in marketing documents.
That Directive was consolidated into the so-called Textile Directives: 2008/121/EC on textile names, 96/73/EC on certain methods for the quantitative analysis of binary textile fibre mixtures, and 73/44/EEC on the quantitative analysis of ternary fibre mixtures.
In 2006, the Commission decided to revise legislation on textile names again to introduce more flexibility to keep up with the technological developments expected in the industry. In 2009, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on textile names that would replace the Textile Directives.
The new Textile Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products was adopted in September 2011 and became applicable on 8 May 2012. It repealed and replaced the previous Textile Directives.
The Regulation was adopted to ensure that citizens, businesses, and public authorities can readily identify their rights and obligations.
The main elements are:
General obligation to state the full fibre composition of textile products;
Minimum technical requirements for applications for a new fibre name;
Requirement to indicate the presence of non-textile parts of animal origin;
Exemption applicable to customised products made by self-employed tailors;
Reporting on the implementation, review clause, and study on hazardous substances to be undertaken by the Commission.
Scope of the Regulation
According to the Regulation, textile products have to be labelled or marked whenever they are available on the market.
The indication of the fibre composition of a product is mandatory at all stages of the industrial processing and commercial distribution of that product.
All products containing at least 80% by weight of textile fibres, including raw, semi-worked, worked, semi-manufactured, semi-made, and made-up products are covered by the Regulation.
The Regulation does not cover size, country of origin, or wash/care labelling.
Applying for a new fibre name
Adding a new fibre name requires that the relevant Annexes of Regulation (EU) No. 1007/2011 are amended. The European Commission will only initiate this process if the amendment appears inevitable due to the need to improve consumer information and/or the proper functioning of the European single market.
Applications may be submitted by manufacturers or a person on their behalf. Applications must include a technical file which fulfils the requirements indicated in Annex II of the Regulation.
Applications from industry
Applicants from companies or industry federations should be aware that Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile names establishes generic fibre names. A new name is justified only if the fibre cannot be classified into any of the existing groups. Promotion via textile labels of company products as a ‘quasi-marketing measure’ is not allowed under this Regulation.
Companies are advised to contact the relevant European industry federation before launching an application. While not formally required, it is helpful if the application is supported by the industry. It is also helpful if a request is supported by consumer organisations.
The Regulation does not foresee that a temporary fibre name will be granted during the transition period, pending the amendment of the Regulation. According to Article 9.5 of the Regulation, fibres not yet listed in Annex I may, however, be designated by the term ‘other fibres’.
Technical file content
The information required to apply for an amendment to Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 must be in line with the minimum requirements established in Annex II to the Regulation.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA AND TECHNICAL WORK
Each application and its technical file will be evaluated against the following criteria:
The fibre is radically different from other fibres by chemical composition and/or by fibre properties;
The fibre is detectable and distinguishable from other fibres by standardised test methods;
The fibre is commercially available from at least two independent producers;
A new generic name is justified as the fibre cannot be classified into an existing generic name.
When the applicant proposes one or more methods (applicable to mixtures of the new fibre with other fibres), which are not listed in Annex VIII of the Regulation, validation is required of the proposed new identification and quantification method(s). The purpose is to assess the quality and coherence of results obtained in different laboratories with the same test method(s).
If deemed necessary, samples of the fibre (yarns and/or fabrics) provided by the applicant will undergo a technical analysis of the proposed fibre parameters, such as agreed allowance, correction d factors for loss in mass (to be applied for each method) etc. The purpose is to assess whether the fibre is identifiable and distinguishable from other already existing fibres.