Unveiling The Truth About Wedding Dresses
The Federal Trade Commission is trying to make sure that brides-to-be get what they pay for when they buy a wedding dress - including all the information that federal law requires on wearing apparel.
The disclosures -- including the manufacturer or seller, the fabric, the country where the garment was made, and cleaning instructions -- must be included on every garment offered for sale, says the FTC. But they're particularly important on wedding dresses, arguably the most expensive and memorable purchases of a lifetime.
"There's no question that most brides-to-be look at the price tag on the outside of the dress before they look at the information on the inside label," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But brides are telling us that they want the 'inside' information and that it's missing from some garments."
Bernstein said the emergence of discount ordering services -- either through toll-free telephone numbers or the Internet -- has spurred some retailers to remove disclosure labels from their gowns. It is not against the law to remove manufacturers' labels and replace them with a store's own labels, she said, but it is illegal to sell or show a gown that doesn't have the required information at all.
The FTC has issued a new brochure, "Wedding Gown Labels: Unveiling the Requirements," to alert manufacturers and retailers about the following disclosures required by law on all clothing offered for sale, including wedding gowns:
- The identity of the manufacturer, distributor or retailer, either by name or by registered identification number (RN). The FTC issues the RN, which consumers can use to identify a company should they have a complaint or a compliment to share. The FTC maintains an RN lookup service at its web site: www.ftc.gov
- The garment's fiber content. "This information is important to any shopper, and especially to brides," said Bernstein. "Who wants to pay the price of silk if the garment is polyester?"
- Federal law requires that clothes carry a label that identifies the country or origin.
- All garments must carry permanently affixed care labels telling consumers how to clean and care for them.
"We hope that bridal gown businesses will refer to our business education brochure to make sure they're complying with the law and providing brides-to-be with the information they deserve," Bernstein said.
Copies of the Facts for Business, "Wedding Gown Labels: Unveiling the Requirements" are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
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