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Spandex Gets AAFA Hot Around the Collar

The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) is once again trying to get spandex on a list of fabrications exempted from flammability testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The trade group says the spandex flammability testing needed to meet the Standard for the Flammability of Clothing Textiles unfairly burdens brands. It first responded CPSC’s public request for information on the issue back in 2019, saying that its members did thousands of tests on textile blends that included spandex and a material that was already exempt from testing. None of the tests failed to meet flammability standards, according to its reports.

Still, CPSC denied the request to add spandex to the exemption list, which includes surface fabrics weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more, along with all fabrics—both plain surface and raised fiber surface—made with acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester, and wool. CPSC said it didn’t have enough data to justify the exemption at that time, but would continue working with industry stakeholders and others to do a complete flammability analysis.

Now, AAFA is asking its more than 400 footwear and apparel brand members to submit any new data they have about the risk of spandex catching on fire. “We believe the time is right for CPSC to exclude spandex from flammability testing requirements,” AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar told Sourcing Journal, noting the $5,000 to $50,000 per year cost of testing, depending on the applications.

AAFA plans to respond to a recent CPSC proposal to amend the textile flammability standard. “As with other synthetic materials, which are exempt from testing, spandex inherently meets flammability requirements,” Lamar said. He went on to say that “decades of testing has conclusively shown this.”

“More testing only adds costs to tell us what we have long known without providing any product safety benefit,” he said.

The deadline to submit feedback on the issue to CPSC is Nov. 14.