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Web Exclusive | September 2014

Fashion brands flouting safety norms in China?

Four foreign fast-fashion brands were named in Chinas top five worst in terms of safety among imported clothing, the countrys quality watchdog announced recently. Forever 21, Zara, H&M and Mango were the most frequently found to fail quality and safety tests in recent trials, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. More than 12,300 articles of imported apparel, worth an estimated 48 million U.S. dollars, were found to have flunked quality tests in the first half of this year.
Of those, 396 failed to meet quality standards by exceeding various chemical content regulations, as well as failing to adequately meet labeling requirements. The four noted brands accounted for 107 cases, or 27 percent of the total, a spokesperson for the Administration said. A total of 1,442 garments for infants and children failed tests after a significant portion were found below standard in terms of pH level, which could irritate and inflame childrens skin.
An overwhelming majority, or 97 percent, failed quality tests due to a lack of clear instructions in Chinese. Clothing products imported from Italy were found to have the most severe problems, followed by those from Vietnam, South Korea and Bangladesh, the official added.
"Fast-fashion brands have frequently been found with low quality during tests. A lot of clothing for infants and children are substandard. There is a serious case of mislabeling due to improper translation in instructions. Also, the low quality imports were mostly found to have come from certain countries," said a spokesperson for the Administration. All these products could be potentially hazardous to consumers or the environment, she added.
China has demanded that all imported apparel should be inspected by its quality watchdog before entering the market. Fast-fashion has grown in popularity in China over the past few years, attracting more and more foreign brands, which offer Chinese consumers low-price stylish clothes.
However, increasing complaints about the quality have been coming over the years. Major fast-fashion brands including Zara and H&M have already appeared on "black lists" several times since they entered the Chinese market, for a lack of proper quality control and labor standards.
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