Made in USA Claims
The current resurgence in US manufacturing arises from a growing realization that it makes sense — commercially and ethically — for the products Americans consume to be made in America. However, many start-up businesses have jumped onto the US manufacturing band wagon without understanding the legal requirements for making an unqualified “Made in USA” claim.
Most textile articles, including apparel and home textiles are governed by the Textile Fiber Product Identification Act or the Wool Products Labeling Act. These Acts, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, set forth specific requirements regarding Made in USA claims. In the case of an apparel or home textile article covered by the Acts, it is not enough to product the finished article in the US. If you make, for example a shirt, or a bedspread, in the US, you cannot make an unqualified “Made in USA” claim unless the fabric was also made in the US. Likewise, a sweater knitted in the US cannot be labeled simply “Made in USA” unless the yarn was also spun in the US. Apparel and home textiles assembled in the US of imported yarn or fabric must be labeled “Made in USA of Imported Yarn” or “Made in USA of Imported Fabric.” This is referred to as a qualified Made in USA claim.
We applaud manufacturers who opt to manufacture consumer textile products in the US. When apparel and home textile products are made in the US they are more likely to contain US-made yarn and fabric than similar items made in other countries. However, it is important that US producers of consumer textiles understand that if they do not use US yarn or fabric, and then go on to make an unqualified made in USA claim, they are committing consumer fraud and could be subject to FTC enforcement actions, including fines.
In addition to protecting American consumers, the Textile and Wool Labeling Acts are intended to create an incentive for US producers of consumer textile products to source their yarns and fabrics domestically. If you are a US producer of yarn or fabric and you believe that a potential customer, a US producer of consumer textile articles, is bypassing you by using imported yarns or fabrics, while still trying to benefit from an unqualified Made in USA claim, NCTO can raise those concerns with the FTC on your behalf.
What’s Covered by the Made in USA Rule?
Nearly all apparel and home textiles are covered. The list is very long. In fact, it is easier to state what is not covered, as follows:
- Upholstery or mattress stuffing that is not reused. If the stuffing is reused, the label must say so.
- Outer coverings of upholstered furniture, mattresses and box springs.
- Linings, interlinings, filling or padding used for structural purposes. If used for warmth, though, the fiber must be disclosed. In addition, if you state the fiber content of linings, interlinings, filling or padding, the products are not exempt.
- Stiffenings, trimmings, facings or interfacings.
- Backings of carpets or rugs and pads or cushions for use under carpets, rugs or other floor coverings.
- Sewing and handicraft threads.
- Bandages, surgical dressings and other products subject to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
- Waste materials not used in a textile product.
- Shoes, overshoes, boots, slippers and all outer footwear. But socks and hosiery are covered; slippers made of wool are covered under The Wool Rules.
- Headwear, including hats, caps or anything worn exclusively on the head. Wool hats are covered under The Wool Rules.
- Textiles used in handbags or luggage, brushes, lampshades, toys, feminine hygiene products, adhesive tapes and adhesive sheets, cleaning cloths impregnated with chemicals, or diapers.
- Also note, this discussion relates solely to articles covered by the Textile and Wool Rules. Other consumer products are covered by an entirely different standard for Made in USA claims.
One step removed rule
The FTC, in guidance to the trade has stated: “In deciding whether to mark a product as made in the U.S. either in whole or in part, a manufacturer also must consider the origin of materials that are one step removed from the particular manufacturing process. For example, a yarn manufacturer must identify imported fiber. A manufacturer of knitted garments must identify imported yarn. A manufacturer of apparel made from cloth must identify imported fabric.”
Made in USA Claims