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Rise of Hi-Vis Counterfeit Garments: Using Standards as a Solution

The battle against counterfeit goods is well known in the luxury industry. As production shifts overseas, companies have less control over their supply chains, leading to the rise of fakes. With the total global trade of counterfeit goods reaching nearly half a trillion dollars a year, no industry is immune to counterfeiting and IP infringement.

However, in the personal protective equipment (PPE) arena, counterfeiting poses more than just a branding and business challenge. It represents a human life safety concern. For example, high-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) is critical to workers in highway, roadway, and traffic zones. In such cases, HVSA helps alert vehicle drivers to the presence of workers in low-light, low visibility environments. Given the hazards of working in high-traffic areas, there is a huge safety risk for workers who wear HVSA garments that are non-compliant and fake.

ANSI/ISEA 107: Using Standards to Fight Counterfeits & Non-Compliance

One keystone document used to assess the integrity of HVSA garments is ANSI/ISEA 107: The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories. This standard provides the minimum performance requirements for high-visibility garments, as well as performance class guidelines for HVSA garments worn in different work zones.

Following and understanding these guidelines will be the first step to combating counterfeit, and non-compliant HVSA garments. Many items in the market fail performance requirements. Yet they are still sold and improperly marketed since qualities such as retroreflectivity are difficult to examine visually. The following three part summary will aid your understanding of the performance standard.

3 Components to Evaluate Compliance of Hi-Vis Garments According to ANSI/ISEA 107

Fluorescent Background Material: Under normal daylight, the fluorescent background—for example, fluorescent yellow—provides adequate contrast against a background to improve visibility.

Retroreflective Tape: This component plays a huge role in nighttime visibility. As its name suggests, retroreflective materials can bounce light back to its source. This quality ensures that the wearer is noticeable in all postures and orientations.

Design: Different garment types must contain a “minimum area of visible materials.” For example, an HVSA garment used for off-road zones constitutes a Class 1 garment. This classification requires a minimum area of 0.14 sq. m of fluorescent background material and 0.10 sq. m of retroreflective tape. Design features such as pocketing and logos affect the proportion of visible tape and background material. Thus, one must consider style variations when evaluating HVSA compliance.

Performance Class 2 Vests in Two Different Styles with Labels; Protecting against counterfeit
Pictogram of Performance Class 2 Vest in Two Different Styles

Vartest Laboratories keeps counterfeit HVSA Garments off the market

We leverage our comprehensive expertise in HVSA garment evaluation to help keep fake products off the market, ensure worker safety, and educate consumers. In May, Vartest CEO Adam Varley presented on counterfeit textiles at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s “Forum on Sustainable Labor Practices” AATCC Student Chapter event. A summary of his talk is featured in Applied DNA Science’s June newsletter.

For more information on our technical services for safety apparel, please visit our HVSA website. A summary of our PPE and HVSA capabilities, and third-party certification programs can also be accessed here.

Vartest CEO Receives Alumni of the Year Award at FIT!

We are proud to announce that Vartest President & CEO, Adam Varley, has been awarded the Alumni of the Year Award at the FIT TDM 2019 Dinner. The annual event is hosted through the Textile Marketing and Development Department, celebrating accomplishments of both alumni and seniors in the program. This award acknowledges Adam’s distinctive contributions toward the fashion and apparel industry through his achievements in textile testing.

Vartest publishes yarn technology whitepaper to AATCC Resource Center

SEM Image of Vortex spun yarn from Vartest Laboratories - Copyright 2018

Fascinated by what a ‘fasciated’ yarn is? Vartest recently published a whitepaper on the AATCC website to showcase our advanced capabilities in classifying yarn structures created by recent textile technologies such as Vortex spinning.  This work complements our expertise in identifying open end, ring spun, and air jet yarn types.

Download this whitepaper from the AATCC Resource Center.

Contact us now to learn more about our other yarn and fiber related testing services such as:

  • Staple Length Analysis
  • Yarn Count and Denier
  • Filament Count
  • Fiber Density
  • Cross-sectional Analysis

For more information, please visit our Fibers, Yarns & Fabrics page or contact us here.

Vartest in Action: Dynamic Seam Fatigue Testing

Dynamic Seam Fatigue (ASTM D4033) assesses the ability of a fabric to be sewn effectively for use on upholstery fabric. The cyclic impact of a weighted wheel over a fabric-covered foam block simulates repetitive stress onto a seat cushion. Just think: how many times this week have you crashed onto your couch after a long work day?

Similar to assessing a portion of your most comfortable reclining chair, a diner booth, or newly upholstered car seat, Dynamic Seam Fatigue testing measures resistance to yarn slippage.  This method is used across a variety of markets—contract & residential upholstery, home, hospitality, and automotive textiles to name a few.

How it works:

The Dynamic Seam Fatigue tester plunges a rubber-faced wheel 7,000 times onto a standard 7-SPI (stitch per inch) upholstery seam. Specimens are sewn in the warp to warp, filling to filling, and warp to filling direction. If after 7,000 cycles, the seams demonstrate no failure, the fabric is determined to have passed the criteria established by ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) and BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association). ASTM D4033-92 is used, modified by BIFMA X 5.4-2012 Seating Durability Test as the standard test method.

See the machine in action below!

How we can help:

Along with the fabric ratings, Vartest provides photographs of any failing specimens so that the Dynamic Fatigue test report can provide effective communication with the supply chain.