Last week Vox published a deep dive on some of the greatest myths surrounding the fashion industry, and debunking some famous ‘stats’ about the impact of clothing manufacturing. It turns out that a lot of the things we thought we knew about fashion may be based on dodgy data! But one area where we do have reliable information is the state of recalls across Europe.
Happily, the data from January seems to continue the trend of recall numbers dropping from previous years. 2019 saw 171, down from 236 in 2018 and last month only 13 alerts were issued in total. While there will inevitably be some variation, if the next eleven months are roughly on a par with January, it would mean the lowest number of recalls in a year since 2008.
Reviewing the numbers
Unsurprisingly, strangulation was the top issue mandating recalls, cited in eight of the notifications last month. Outside of strangulation, the reasons for recall were injuries (3), chemical violations of the REACH regulations (3), and choking (1).
More than half of the notifications issued were for products originating in Turkey (8), while Italy, Switzerland, Pakistan, China, and Greece were all responsible for a single product each. While Turkey the country of origin for 27 notifications last year, we can reasonably expect it to once again be outstripped by China over the following months. The picture was similar in terms of the countries issuing the alert with Bulgaria responsible for the majority (8), followed by Cyprus (2), Sweden (2), and Germany (1).
Don’t treat children’s clothes with kid gloves
A key trend that we identified last year was the on-going issue of shoddy leather goods with unsafe levels of chromium – which can cause allergic reactions – and January was no exception with three different sets of leather gloves being recalled for precisely that reason.
Beyond the dangers of chemical contamination, the number one priority for manufacturers and retailers continues to be the safety of children’s clothing. Last year 87% of recalls were for products aimed at children as the dangers of injury or accidental strangulation are far higher. Businesses need to make sure that any corded hoodies, tops, or bibs they sell are in line with regulations and aren’t liable to get trapped, which could potentially lead to strangulation.
Overall, the fact that recalls are on a downward trend is encouraging and firms should be praised for doing more to safeguard the public. However, with many European countries looking to follow Sweden’s lead and introduce greater health and safety regulations and standards for the clothing industry, manufacturers and retailers can’t afford to rest on their laurels. It’s crucial to plan ahead and be prepared should the need arise.