A sizable handful of your favorite mall stores failed to pass quality tests in China, according to the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau.
Companies like American Apparel, Diesel, Forever 21, and H&M were found to be shipping in clothing that failed standards of color fastness, fiber content, and pH index. (Yes, clothes have a pH, too.) While it might be annoying when your new pink skirt rubs off on your white sofa, poor color fastness can actually irritate skin, not just your precious furniture. Likewise, a too-high clothing pH can cause skin allergies, according to the Bureau. While it's not like these issues are particularly life-threatening, failing quality standards isn't anything to be proud of as a retailer, especially when some of these companies (oh, let's see: Lanvin, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Lacoste) are selling clothes that don't come cheap.
Foreign companies that operate in China are under tougher and tougher inspection, according to the Times of India, for "corrupt practices, price fixing, sub-standard quality, improper hygiene, and violation of labor law."
It's unclear if these flawed clothing items are the same ones that are being sold in US stores, or if these retailers have a special send-the-bad-clothes-to-non-Western-countries policy. Either way, it's irritating that these profitable companies don't have higher standards for themselves — and it's not coincidental that laxness when it comes to quality standards often coincides with laxness when it comes to something much more serious: Labor laws.