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Calling Out Dubious Packaging Claims

Jennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEFJennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
We received a lot of thumbs up recently for an item in our HTT Extra enewsletter calling out some of the shenanigans entering the marketplace as retailers attempt to gussy up the marketing on de-speced product.
     Culprit No. 1 was Amazon, offering a polyester sheet set it labeled as "Egyptian Quality 1200 Count Luxury Solid Sheet Set." The price: $27. The product description identifies the construction as "100% Egyptian Quality micro fiber."
     More commonly known as polyester, micro fiber does not have a "thread count" as the term is commonly applied in the manufacture of cotton and cotton blend sheets. But the real lulu is the "Egyptian Quality" claim. Yes, there is some poly manufacturing in Egypt, but if Egyptian poly sets a world standard (as long-staple Egyptian cotton does) this is the first I've heard of it.
     Another nudge-nudge, wink-wink claim comes from Restoration Hardware, which this spring promoted a line of "Vintage Washed Belgian Linen Bedding," which packaging reveals to have been made in India. The Belgian claim is made because the threads were "made from Belgian flax seeds."
     After we sent out the HTT Extra piece, I heard right away from a couple of readers with other examples. While they are not home textiles examples, both exemplify hijinks not unfamiliar to the industry - questionable sustainability claims and "hide the feathers" fill claims.
     The first touches on organic cotton claims - in this case, a $12.99 tee-shirt on promotion at Stein Mart for Earth Day. The marketing copy states: "Tees are made from organic cotton, which is 90% less toxic than a conventional cotton garment."
     Our tipster, a professor at a well-known textiles university, noted: "You have to ask, if organic is 90% less toxic, then the non-organic shirt is TOXIC. The implication is that both shirts are toxic. And the big question is: Toxic to what and what test did they run to show a shirt is toxic?"
     The other tsk-tsk example came from a member of the Downmark, the Down Association of Canada.
     "On the front page of our website at www.downmark.com, we list fraudulent product we have picked up in the Canadian market, and had tested at the International Down & Feather Laboratory in Salt Lake City.
     "We have had serious failures by Home Outfitters, Wal-Mart, and numerous smaller retailers. Latest is a retest of a Jysk down duvet, which tested at 18% down. Previously one of theirs had failed at 57%, so they are getting worse."
More to come, no doubt.

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