From The Wovember Archives – EU Labelling

Last year we shared this Wovember Words post on the use of the term ‘Wool’ – which looks at EU labelling. The EU legislation on textile labelling regulations was updated in April 2016 (and the link at the bottom now points to the updated version) but the terms referred to here are still as unchanged.

How do you think labelling regulations will change through Brexit, or will they change at all? Tell us how you would like to see labelling regulated in a post-Brexit UK.

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Today for WOVEMBER WORDS we contemplate some sections of the EU guidelines surrounding use of the word ‘wool’ for the purposes of textile labelling. These guidelines were drawn up at the European Parliament and they relate to the labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products. If you have read and signed the Wovember petition, you will know that our position on wool is slightly different from that laid out in the EU guidelines. We believe the word wool should refer to sheep’s wool only, and that there should be a clarification to distinguish between different animal fibres (angora, alpaca, cashmere, and so on) which also possess their own unique properties, qualities and cachet. Every year we are challenged by readers who feel that our woolly celebrations should extend to all fibre-bearing beasts and every year we say the same thing: WOOL is different from HAIR, and using WOOL as a catch-all term for ALL animal fibres contributes to confusion surrounding the composition of textiles. We also do not think it benefits the rich traditions and histories surrounding particular animals – goats, rabbits, musk-ox etc. – to lump them all in together. Part of what makes these textiles special is their distinctness and particularity. Surely it benefits nobody to lump them all in together? We at Wovember feel that confusing guidelines are partly responsible for the mis-labelling of non-woollen goods as being woollen. Put simply, if all animal fibres can be referred to as wool then what is to stop proportions of synthetic fibres creeping into that definition? One area of focus for Wovember, moving forward, could involve using our petition to make some changes to the guidelines as set out by the EU. What do you think? Suggestions for reworded legislation very gratefully received.

Use of the term ‘wool’
(Article 8 and Annex III of the EU Regulation)
12. The fibre name ‘wool’ can be used to describe either fibre obtained from sheep’s or lambs’ fleeces or a mixture of such fibres and certain fine animal hairs (viz alpaca, llama, camel, cashmere, mohair, angora, vicuna, yak, guanaco, beaver, otter). The indication ‘100 % wool’ may describe a mixture of, say, fibre from sheep’s or lambs’
fleeces and cashmere, though if the cashmere accounted for the greater percentage by weight of the product, it would make sense for the higher quality and more expensive cashmere fibre to be named separately, eg ’60 % cashmere, 40 % wool’ and ‘100 % wool’ are equally permissible.

Mending label available from leaf cutter designs. (click the image)

Mixtures containing fine animal hairs
17. Products containing a mixture of fibres from sheep’s or lambs’ fleeces and certain
fine animal hairs (viz alpaca, llama, camel, cashmere, mohair, angora, vicuna, yak,
guanaco, beaver, otter) may either be described as ‘wool’ or the exact nature of such
fine animal hairs may be specified.