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Restricted substances and the world of fashion

The avoidance of restricted substances is increasingly important for plating companies that work in the fashion field.

Governments, business associations and buyers for major fashion brands are increasingly attentive - and scrupulous - when it comes to restricted substances. This attention is the natural consequence of the attitude adopted by the general public, particularly concerned about environmental sustainability, product safety and the safety of those who manufacture or wear accessories.

This growing concern prompted the drafting of the RSL (Restricted Substances Lists), which indicate chemical substances that present varying degrees of danger and impact. These lists contain substances that can cause cancer or genetic mutations, substances dangerous to the reproductive and endocrine systems and chemical substances that are non-biodegradable, dangerous or strongly allergenic. In short, for each specific goods sector, the RSL identifies the chemical substances that should not be used for treating clothing and accessories.

These choices obviously also have a direct impact in terms of business. Today, the list of restricted substances is an important working tool, a guide to follow for those operating in the fashion or accessories production and supply chain. Companies that believe in sustainability and realise that these are elements able to open up new market segments, or to protect market shares already acquired, are making the necessary adjustments in this sense, above all because brands and stakeholders are becoming increasingly intransigent in this area.

But what is the RSL?

As well as showing which substances are harmful, the list also identifies methods for establishing the presence and the concentration of each substance, indicating not only choices that are prohibited, but also the proper control systems to be implemented. The RSL was created by the AAFA (American Apparel & Footwear Association) and subsequently supplemented with other more specific lists, such as the ZDHC MRSL (reserved for the manufacturing sector), which establishes the acceptable limits for prohibited substances such as any non-intentional contaminating elements - i.e. due to manufacturing processes - in the specific sectors of textiles, clothing and footwear. Also in this case, the list is valid internationally.

Lastly, each brand can establish its own list of prohibited substances and acceptable limit values, and each supplier intending to operate in the production and supply chain is called upon to comply with this list. In practice, in addition to adopting the RSL and ZDHC MRSL as a benchmark, each brand can decide to publish (sometimes also on its website) a PRSL, i.e. a list of its own clearly indicating the practices and processes the fashion house’s partners must comply with.

The role of Valmet Plating

Here at Valmet Plating we have sound experience in working with brands and operators in the fashion production and supply chain. For some time now, our laboratory has been conducting research to allow us to offer galvanic coatings and solutions in line with the RSL and with many of the restricted substances lists published by the main fashion houses. This knowledge also allows us to offer specific consulting services for those seeking to adapt to these standards (mainly plating companies, but also cataphoretic coating companies), who must be able to guarantee 100% compliance with the guidelines set by the American Apparel & Footwear Association and those established by the individual fashion brands.

In short

  • Fashion brands are increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability and safety
  • Brands and control societies have drafted a restricted substances list
  • Those operating in the fashion or accessories production and supply chain bus follow this list
  • The RSL also identifies methods for establishing the presence and concentration of each substance