How Is CPSIA Legislation Affecting the Garment Industry?

August 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

This short article, recently published in Impressions, is an observation made by our Product Manager, Mark Brouillard:

Editor’s Note: The following is an unsolicited editorial commentary provided by a screen printing industry veteran. As always, Impressions encourages you to do thorough research to make complete, informed decisions about your shop’s business practices when it comes to CPSIA legislation.

To gauge the effect of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 at retail, my wife and I recently decided to go do some “market research” to see if there has been a shift in garment decoration, specifically involving garments targeted at wearers ages 3 years old and younger. The short answer is, yes.

However, trying to find a printed shirt containing some type of screen printing ink was next to impossible. Instead of prints, we found patch work and embroidery. Even the little feet on pajamas have been replaced by cloth, instead of the little rubber ones from just a couple of years ago. We even found bibs that stated “PVC- and Phthalate-Free” on their hanging cards.

We then shifted our focus to apparel meant for wearers 5 years of age and older. (We skipped over clothing targeted for 4-year-olds, as it could go either way.) Interestingly enough, clothing for this segment also had changed. In the boy’s shirt section, roughly 30% of the T-shirts contained screen printing ink. Again, a lot of embroidery and patch work — and even some dye sublimation — was used. In the girl’s shirt section, about 15% of the T-shirts contained screen printing inks. Embroidery, patch work and patterned garments were found.

It wasn’t until we got to the sections of the stores with apparel for 12-year-olds did we see more screen printing inks on T-shirts, hoodies and other such apparel.

Remember, we went to three “big-box” retailers and a children’s-specific retail chain. My wife and I also have two grandsons — ages 2 and 5 — and we buy them lots of stuff, especially clothing (and toys). We first started noticing a changing trend in apparel decoration near the end of 2011, and even more at Valentine’s Day. By Easter, a complete paradigm shift was apparent.

So, is the CPSIA legislation affecting the garment industry? In my opinion, yes. Garment decorators seem to be manufacturing around the CPSIA regulations because it is probably easier (and in the long run, cheaper) to do more patch work and embroidery than to do screen printing. The testing requirements, intrusive amount of paperwork, and possible legal ramifications have made it so that screen printing on youth garments is too risky of a prospect.

Just my opinion.

Mark Brouillard, International Coatings’ product manager, has considerable experience in formulating and manufacturing industrial compounds. For the past 16 years, his focus has been on the formulation and product development of textile screen printing inks. Brouillard coordinates the company’s product development efforts and deployments. For more information, visit and read the company’s blog at

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of phthalate-compliant screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers.  For more information on our products, please visit our website at

   International Coatings:     The Intelligent Choice


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