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itself heard has come from woolgrowers who have stated repeatedly that they hope and expect that labeling all cloth of wool as to its fiber content will put up the price of wool.
We favor and indorse the Lodge-Rogers honest-merchandise act:
First. Because it is a general act designed to protect the public from misrepresentation, false statement, and false labeling of all commodities, not a single textile product. It is applicable equally to a kitchen utensils, a suit of clothes, or an automobile. It provides that in the purchase of any commodity in trade a misleading label, a false statement, or misrepresentation is contrary to law and punishable.
Second. It sets up no standards false or otherwise. It merely requires that a commodity when sold shall be what it is represented to be.
Third: It involves none of the expense and ramifications of compulsory labeling.
Fourth. It affords to the ultimate consumer a blanket protection which will protect, and opportunity for redress against the offending seller who offers something which is other than what it is represented, labeled, or stated to be.
We believe that a protective measure of some kind is essential; we believe that such a protective measure should be general as applied to all trade; we believe that such general protection is afforded the public in the Lodge-Rogers Honest Merchandise Act.
Spasmodically for the past 20 years countless hours of time and energy of the Congress have been devoted to hearings in connection with demand for labeling, legislation of some kind. The passage of the Lodge bill, which is patterned on the British merchandise marks act, a law in active and satisfactory operation in the United Kingdom for 30 years or more, should end this demand upon the Congress for labeling legislation.
For the reasons above set forth, we urge the rejection of the French-Capper bill and the immediate enactment into law of the Lodge-Rogers bill.
STATEMENT OF IRVING CRANE, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY ASSO
CIATED CLOTHING MANUFACTURERS OF NEW YORK (INC.).
Mr. CRANE. Senator, there has been so much said at the hearii yesterday and I have heard so much in a general way, that I am merely going to call your attention to a few points that occur to us particularly.
The CHAIRMAN. The purpose of the hearing is to assemble the data for and against the respective measures so that the members of the committee may have it as a matter of record to study and on which action inay be taken.
Mr. CRANE. I want first to call the attention of the committee to a resolution passed on March 1, 1924, by the Associated Clothing Manufacturers of New York (Inc.), which is as follows:
Whereas we, the Associated Clothing Vanufacturers of New York (Inc.), manufacturers of men's and boys' clothes are vitally interested in labeling legislation, and
Whereas we see it the movement for labeling legislation is most definitely expressed in the French-Capper bill, which provides for the compulsory labeling of all fabrics and garments in which wool is employed, and
Whereas we believe that the passing of this bill would work a great increase in the price of wool and a consequent increase in the cost of clothing to the consumer by creating falsely a demand for virgin wool in cloth over the more durable reworked wool in cloth; and
Whereas the cost of labeling and keeping of records would cost the clothing industry of the United States millions of dollars, which amount of overhead would ultimately have to be charged against the finished article and paid for by the buying public; and
Whereas the Lodge-Rogers Honest Merchandise Act which does not compel labeling, but which provides penalties against falsely labeling, misstating or misrepresenting not only cloth but all commodities of commerce; it is
Resolved, That the Associated Clothing Manufacturers of New York (Inc.) hereby urge upon the Congress the rejection of the French-Capper bill and the enactnient into law at the soonest possible moment of the Lodge-Rogers bill.
The city of New York is a city that produced $600,000,000 worth upward, annually of men's and boy's clothing, and our association feels that we are vitally affected in the conditions prescribed for the labeling of merchandise as set forth in the French-Capper Act. You will note that our resolution is opposed to the passage of the French-Capper bill and is in favor of the Lodge-Rogers bill. It is claimed that it would cost the clothing industry in the United States several millions of dollars per year in order to follow the conditions set up in the French-Capper bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any way to estimate how much that would be?
Mr. CRANE. Mr. Chairman, there actually is not, except, if you take an individual garment, the wool manufacturer must necessarily put on the cost of the labeling on the wool he sells to the manufacturer, add that to the cost of the garment, and that necessarily carries with it this overhead. That goes to the manufacturer who in turn must charge a profit on that charged in the garment, and I have heard it estimated that the cost of the label put on the garment would, when it reached the retail merchant, be about anyway from 8 to 15 cents each.
The clothing industry is working with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union of America, and they are very closely organized in the United States, and every single operation is charged for in the manufacture of garments.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, you think that that would not be absorbed by the manufacturer but would be passed on to the consumer?
Mr. CRANE. Not at all. We have had many past instances where the mere change of a seam has cost more money. The workers are not inclined to do anything more cheaply. It would mean a reduction of their scale in wages if they did.
That charge would in turn go to the retailer with an overhead charge, and it is quite possible that by the time the consumer received the garments the cost of the labeling from the clothing manufacturer would amount possibly to 30 cents or 35 cents. That would be the same cost whether the garment was purchased by the consumer at a price of $2 or at a price of $40 or $50. This would be a cost beside the cost of maintaining an elaborate system of record and other incidental bookkeeping expense.
There are various sections of the bill that would appear to set up conditions that would be very hard to enforce from the retailer's standpoint. For instance, he can have on hand clothing without labels and as I understand it from the bill he would not be charged with an offense for having such clothing on hand provided he has written guaranties from the manufacturers that the merchandise was manufactured under the conditions of the bill. There are dishonest manufacturers and retailers as well as there are dishonest men in other lines, and as a consequence of this section there would be great opportunity for the fraud, and the chances for conviction might be very limited.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you examined the bill so as to point out the sections you speak of?
Mr. CRANE. That particular section. I refer to is headed "section 15."
The CHAIRMAN. That is the Capper bill?
Mr. CRANE. Yes; the Capper bill is the only bill I am speaking of. The Lodge bill is satisfactory, generally, and any other legislation that will tend to honest dealing in merchandise will be perfectly satisfactory to us. To-day the clothing industry has developed to the point where the consumer relies wholly on the reputation of the concern he buys for.
With respect to the French-Capper bill labeling legislation, we I would like to say that the truth-in-fabric bill (so called) has a great. tendency to raise the price of raw wool, which in turn will increase the cost of woolen clothing to the American people. There is absolutely no demand on the part of the public for this legislation, and the campaign for its enactment covering a period of years has been initiated and supported by the woolgrowers' associations.
The purpose of this legislation is to make reworked wool odious in the minds of the consumer through the labeling of each garment as to its content of new or virgin wool and reworked wool. It has been repeatedly said, and it is exceedingly likely, that if this legislation is enacted, the woolgrowers' associations will initiate a nationwide publicity campaign urging the consumer to buy only fabrics made of new wool, to avoid all fabrics containing reworked wool, which was formerly known as shoddy. A campaign of this kind by the woolgrowers, together with such firms as would adopt the virgin wool label, would inevitably cause the consumer to distrust reworked wool, and it is expected that vastly more fabrics will be made of new wool exclusively, thus further enhancing the price of wool.
While many of those advocating this legislation have had only one purpose, that of increasing the price they will secure for their product, they have maintained that an admixture of reworked wool with new wool was for the purpose of deteriorating fabrics, and that they were therefore performing a public service by showing the consumer to what extent his purchase was made of new wool or of reworked wool.
As a matter of fact, the very reverse is true. When reworked wool is used in conjunction with new wool it is invariably used for the purpose of providing a better and more durable fabric than such as can be made at the same price where only new.wool is used. And at any given price a fabric employing both new and reworked wool is superior in wearing qualities and in appearance to the fabric made exclusively of virgin wool.
Take a cassimere cloth, for example, at $2 a yard made of virgin wool. On account of the high cost of wool the number of threads in the cloth must be limited by the cost of the material that enters the fabric, and the wearing qualities of the fabric are correspondingly kimited. But on account of the far lower cost of reworked wool a more generous use of that material can be utilized jointly with virgin wool to make a much firmer, better wearing, and better looking fabric than could be produced if made entirely of new wool at the same price.
In other words, brought down to its essence, reworked wool can be said to deteriorate a fabric only as against a very much higher cost fabric, but at any given price its introduction absolutely improves the fabric. Let us illustrate by stating concrete cases.
While overcoatings generally are at present largely made of virgin wool, due to the incidence of the fancy back coating, it is a wellknown fact that the best wearing cloths in the medium grade of allwool overcoatings are those that contain a percentage or reworked wool. The fabrics are made much firmer through its introduction. With respect to one well-known fabric which sold at $2 per yard, containing a considerable percentage of reworked wool it is the general verdict of the clothing industry that this fabric will outwear any fancy back made of virgin wool that was produced and selling for $4 a yard or less.
Compare any of the fleece-faced fabrics made of virgin wool now being so widely distributed, so far as their wearing qualities are concerned, with the kerseys, meltons, and friezes of which overcoatings were largely made until very recently—and all these latter fabrics contained a large percentage of reworked wool-and yet the consumer will get several times as long wear out of any of these latter fabrics as he will out of the fleece-faced virgin wool ones that are at present being sold freely.
Should we, therefore, through a label, warn the consumer to beware of these meritorious fabrics, to shake his confidence in them?
The marked advance in the price of wool will inevitably cause a recrudescence, if this legislation is enacted, of the one-and-one virgin wool fabric, a fabric that was made to some extent during the period of extreme high prices during the war, and was made in conformity with a mistaken desire to promote sales regardless of wearing qualities. Certain houses featured these fabrics so that they could say they were made of pure virgin wool. The experience of the trade with these goods was that they would wear for only a few weeks, when the surface of the cloth would be worn through to the warp or weft, and the dissatisfaction of the clothing industry with these garments was so great that they have been practically tabooed since. And yet if compulsory labeling legislation of the French-Capper type is enacted many manufacturers would have to resort to these goods if they wanted to show only goods that were made of virgin wool. The fabrics that have been substituted for these are fabrics made jointly of virgin wool and reworked wool. They are firm, good wearing clothes of first-class appearance. At any given price the consumer will get vastly more for his money if he buys this kind of a fabric than he would if he bought the virgin wool cloth.
The one fundamental consideration that must be kept in mind continually is not whether the fabric is virgin wool or part virgin wool and part reworked wool, but what is the construction of the cloth? That is the element that decides the wear. How generously have the picks and ends been put into the cloth? How closely has the fabric been woven? And with the high cost and limited world supply of wool it must be apparent to anyone that if only new wool is used it must be used sparingly in all fabrics of moderate price.
There is no more important factor in the economy of the world, so far as meeting the world's requirements of clothing is concerned, than the continued use of reworked wool. Coming under this title of reworked wool is what is known as the waste of both worsted and woolen mills. Every yard of cloth has a very large percentage of waste wool, which is reutilized in making meritorious fabrics in conjunction with new wool, and is indispensable to our finding an adequate supply of material to clothe the people of the world with woolen clothing.
This legislation proposes that every fabric shall be labeled at the mill, and every garment shall be labeled when manufactured, showing the quantity in percentage of virgin wool and reworked wool. There is no way of telling by analysis after a fabric is produced what the percentages of new wool and reworked wool are, and anyone that set out intentionally to deceive could do so with impunity. A subcommittee of the Interstate Commerce Committee, which devoted several days to a hearing on this bill, was in unanimous agreement that there was no way of ascertaining through test what the percentages of wool and reworked wool were after manufacture.
This legislation, instead of benefiting the consumer, would not only increase his cost of clothing, but would be confusing and misleading, causing him to reject those fabrics which would give him the best evidence in favor of those that had the virgin wool label, regardless of whether these fabrics could be expected to give wear or not.
It will add a sum that will run into millions of dollars to the cost of all of the distributers of woolen fabrics, from mills to retailers. Records must be kept showing each style and lot number, showing what the percentages of new and reworked wool are. The sewing on of the labels on each garment is an expensive addition to the overhead of every large distributer. In the last analysis all of these costs must be ultimately paid by the consumer.
It is almost certain that if this legislation is enacted a great many manufacturers of fabric as well as manufacturers of clothing will seek to trade upon a virgin wool label to the detriment of the consumer. Goods will be put out that have nothing to recommend them but the label, and the consumer will be fooled into buying merchandise that he ought to reject, because there is nothing to recommend the purchase but the label; the fabric itself may be virgin wool and yet possess no wearing qualities whatever.
Ninety-nine per cent of the business of the country to-day is conducted on the basis of “ dealer responsibility.” The consumer buys because he either has confidence in the maker of the cloth, the maker of the clothing, or the distributer. This legislation would introduce a new and misleading factor which has mischievous implications.
The CHAIRMAN. Does the committee wish to ask any questions of Mr. Crane? If not we will call the next witness.