The China Consumers' Association (CCA) has released the results of a recent study, in which it tested various fast fashion garments. The CCA is a national organization that was founded in December 1984 and is tasked with protecting consumers' interests by means of supervision of commodities and services. As part of the study, the organization tested 70 articles of clothing made by noted fast fashion brands, including Zara, Mango and Guess, which were purchased in-store in Beijing and Shanghai. Surprise, surprise: Over 30% of the samples failed to meet quality standards by exceeding various chemical content regulations, as well as failing to adequately meet labeling requirements (a serious offense in the U.S.).
The CCA's study highlights one of the things that we already know about fast fashion. In exchange for the quick turnover of trendy wares and low prices, fast fashion companies more often than not do not utilize proper quality control and labor standards. As a result, the clothing and accessories contain higher levels of chemicals and in some cases, their composition is not properly labeled. For instance, some clothes containing methanol, which is used to prevent shrinking and wrinkling and to brighten colors, had a pH greater than 7.5, which could irritate and inflame skin. Brands producing clothes that failed to meet quality standards were Marks & Spencer, Zara and Hotwind. Further, the composition of some of the clothes differed from what was printed on the label. According to the CCA report, "Some claimed to contain cotton, but no cotton was found in them. Brands that mislabeled their clothes were b+ab and Mango."
Side note: In order to sell garments and accessories in the U.S., brands must abide by various labeling laws that are enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Trade Commission. For instance, labels containing fiber content, country of origin, the identification of the manufacturer, importer, or other dealer, and care instructions must be present at the time the end user takes possession of the good. Labels containing care instructions must be attached permanently to the item. It seems that various fast fashion retailers certainly do not meet these requirements.
According to Li Yuanguang, a CCA official, "Fast fashion should not only be 'fast' and 'fashionable' but should also ensure quality."