« ForrigeFortsett »
Mr. Mapes. Were they made up in any way to deceive or make it difficult for them to be analyzed?
Mr. Wood. No; they were all practical commercial fabrics. They were selected, naturally, with a view to bringing out the characteristic differences. For instance, the ones which contain reworked wool very largely were those kinds of reworked wool which have good fine, long fiber, and those selected containing new wool were naturally such as were made of new wool of short fiber, which would have the characteristics the analyst would think indicative of reworked wool.
Mr. Mapes. You think there would be the same difference in the analysis if you took different samples of suits of clothes which we have on here to-day?
Mr. Wood. Quite so. I say that because in every mill there is constantly going on the analysis of competing fabrics, with a view to finding out how the products of its rivals compare in value and merit with its own goods, and I have had to supervise and participate in a great many analyses of commercial goods selected for that purpose. While experts will make a good guess as to the percentage of snort staple or long staple, they can not definitely distinguish as to whether or not given fiber is new or reworked.
What the analyst relies upon are two characteristics: The length— and he is very apt to assume that if a fiber is short it is reworked, and if it is long he is almost sure to assume that it is virgin wool. These noils which are combed out of new wool he is likely to take for granted are reworked wool. On the other hand, this stock which is made from garnetted threads, which is of long fiber, he would probably assume to be new wool, and the most expert mill man can not decide definitely.
Mr. Mapes. That is an assumption and is not based on any analysis at all, is it?
Mr. Wood. Not at all; just on the length.
Mr. Mapes. I wondered what proportion of virgin wool, new wool, is of long fiber, and what proportion is made out of tags, tag locks, tops, and so on?
Mr. Wood. I have been trying to arrive at that. It is not classified in the census definitely, but by taking the percentage of clips made by the clothing manufacturers and tailors to the amount of cloth which they buy and multiplying by that rate the whole quantity of cloth cut up, I found that of new clippings there would be about 14,000,000 pounds a year, based on the 1921 census of consumption of goods. Of the thread waste and of the fine knit stock there would be, as nearly as I can make it—and it is only a crude estimate—probably about 10,000,000 pounds more. That would account for about 24,000,000 pounds.
Then besides that there are a great many other very excellent grades of reworked wool, such as knit stock.
Mr. Mapes. How much actual misbranding of clothing is there, do you find?
Mr. Wood. You mean as to fiber content? As to this question to which Mr. French's bill relates.
Mr. Mapes. Yes.
Mr. Wood. I have never heard of any. I think that question you had probably better ask of some of the representatives of the garment makers, who will testify here, because they buy the cloths that my colleagues and I make, and we probably are not competent witnesses on that subject. Our customers would be the better witnesses.
Mr. Mapes. Are there any fellows who buy almost exclusively this cheap virgin wool and put it into cloth and clothes and advertise it as pure wool?
Mr. Wood. No, sir; there would be no incentive now, but if there was a law requiring the labeling of fiber content there would be, because every garment, every yard of fabric, would have to be labeled. Then a premium would be put upon labeling cheap goods in a way that would get by the law.
Mr. Mapes. If a man could advertise his product as being made out of pure wool there would be the same incentive now, would there not?
Mr. Wood. He can get so much better quality for the same cost in reworked wool than he can in these inferior things which are useful for other purposes at the present time, that no man would prefer to use the inferior virgin wools where he can get for the same cost superior reworked wool, as long as there is no discrimination in the law.
Mr. Mapes. What effect do you think the labeling provision of the French bill would have upon the price of clothes made up of virgin wool?
Mr. Wood. That is a rather involved subject. I have given a great deal of consideration to it, but feel that there is so much to be said from political economy viewpoint that it is rather dangerous ground. A very competent witness at the recent hearing made the statement, with which I am inclined to agree, that those who have advocated this in the hope that it would increase the price of wool are only deceiving themselves. I am rather inclined to think he is right. We are producing at the present time in this country roughly about 250,000,000 pounds of wool suitable for clothing. We import upwards of 300,000,000 pounds. The total amount produced in the world for clothing purposes, is upward of 2,000,000,000 pounds, not counting the carpet wools. Now, I do not think that a law of this kind in the United States, on the limited amount of domestic wool that we have here, compared with our consumption, could do very much to raise the world price. Price is determined by the world
frice plus the cost of bringing the wool here, and the import duty, t does not seem to me that a law of the United States could have a very great effect on the world prices of wool when so small a part of the world product is grown in the United States. I speak on that subject with a great deal of caution, because it is in rather a speculative domain.
Mr. Mapes. How much does the element of knowledge of the business and ability to make a good purchase and so on enter into the work of a retailer in the clothing business?
Mr. Wood. I think it enters very largely, but even more largely than that, the question of the merits of woolen clothing is dependent on the judgment of the wholesale maker. I think the retailer depends less on his technical knowledge of the worth of clothes than he does upon the reputation of the wholesale clothing manufacturer from whom he buys. The wholesale clothing manufacturer must be expert in all those things.
Mr. Mapes. What effect would this legislation have upon that element in the business?
Mr. Wood. Presuming that the retailer's customers would buy virgin wool fabrics which is what the advocates of the bill intend and expect. His cheaper grades would have to be made of inferior virgin wool and he would have dissension in every case where any kind of dissatisfaction arose, such as the wear of the surface of the overcoat cloth I showed you. The public so generally believes that every fault in clothing is due to the presence of shoddy that if the label said "virgin wool" and the surface did not wear well, if the seams pulled apart or if the color faded, they would be back to the man from whom they bought it to complain and would feel sure the goods had been falsely labeled.
I think this must be borne in mind—this is outside of my field, but I can speak of it through general knowledge—there has grown up in the past 10 or 15 years an almost universal custom among the manufacturers of clothing to give a practically unlimited guaranty of the garments they make. I believe that all of the makers of good medium-priced clothing, as well as the finer grades, now follow that practice. If you buy a suit of clothes that has the name of a reputable maker in it, and it is unsatisfactory in any way at all, you can take it back to the retailer who will not raise any question as to the causes of your dissatisfaction; but will adjust the matter with you. I think your committee will have testimony that that is practically the universal practice.
I think the manufacturers of cloth would be inclined to welcome a compulsory labeling bill that required them to put the name of the mill and its location on the cloth, because, notwithstanding the additional expense, it would have a great advertising value. But that would not be appreciated by the garment manufacturer and the retailer, who wants to retain the advertising advantage for themselves. They want their own labels on the clothing they sell. Besides, if the mill names must be carried through to the consumer, the information the garments would have to carry would look very much like the dramatis personae which precede the showing of moving pictures: "Cloth by Worumbo, silk lining by Cheney, mohair lining by Farr Alpaca, interlining by Cox, buttons by Thompson, braid by Horstman, sewing silk by Cortecelli," and so on through a long list telling by what mill each component was made. But the one label that is of any value is the label of either the retailer who sells the goods—-sometimes they will only put their own in—or the label of the garment manufacturer who brings expert knowledge to the selection of fabrics and their manufacture into garments. Almost all clothing in this country that is sold at retail now has either one or the other of those labels, and such a label, voluntarily put on for advertising purposes, affords the only practicable guaranty that can be given.
Mr. Mapes. What is the argument for putting woven goods in this bill and not knitted goods?
Mr. Wood. I am afraid the answer to that question would have a. political aspect.
Mr. Mapes. We are not politicians here. Go ahead.
Mr. Wood. Well, though political it is not a partisan subject. The original measures introduced at various times before the war were very much more general. They included not only woven but knitted goods, silk, linen, rubber goods, and leather goods. But it was found that the opposition was very great, and so the proponents of this measure felt that it was probably better to defeat the enemy in detail, and the narrower they could make the opposition, the better. Now, it so happens that most of the woven goods are manufactured in the eastern part of the country and in a comparatively limited geographical area, while the knitting business is scattered quite widely over the country, and there are constituents of a great many Members of Congress, Senators who are in the knitting business in States where there is no weaving at all. When that question was pressed before in the Senate hearing, the proponents of the bill practically admitted that that was the reason and stated that if the French bill is enacted steps would subsequently be taken to amend it and make it include other kinds of goods.
Mr. Mapes. Is it your position that there is just as much evil to be corrected in the knitting line as there is the woven?
Mr. Wood. Practically the same. The raw materials are just exactly the same. There is the same opportunity for the use of reworked wool, good or bad; the same opportunities for the use of good or bad virgin wool.
Mr. Mapes. What proportion of cloth on the market is knitted and what part is woven?
Mr. Wood. Of cloth such as I showed you, I am unable to say at present, because it is so new a development that the statistics have not been separately classified in the census. We commonlv think of knit goods as rather loosely or openly made like sweaters, but recent years large quantities of knitted fabrics having the characteristic appearance of woven cloth have been made which can not readily be distinguished from woven goods. The production of such knitted fabrics has been increasing rapidly and very large quantities are now sold. No statistics are available as to the quantity. The census reports do not distinguish between these different kinds of knitted goods made.
Mr. Mapes. I apologize to you for asking you so many questions, but I would like to ask you one more. What is the difference in cost of an overcoat such as you displayed here, which you say is knitted, and one made of the same material that is woven?
Mr. Wood. I can not tell you exactly. The difference is almost wholly in the labor cost of weaving and knitting. The knitting machine produces the fabric a great deal faster, more yards per day. I should think that it might not go above 10 cents a yard, but it is enough to give a competitive value to that method.
Mr. Parker (presiding). Colonel Wood, will you be here in the morning at 10.30?
Mr. Wood. I have been here all the week, and I would very much like to leave to-day, but if you want me to remain over I will do so.
Mr. Parker. We will have to adjourn now until 10.30 to-morrow morning.
(At this point Colonel Wood requested the privilege of filing the following briefs and communications, in the interests of saving time, which was granted by the chairman: American Association of Woolen and Worsted Manufacturers; National Association of Worsted and Woolen Spinners; letter from American Association of Wool Blanket Manufacturers; letter from Arlington Mills.)
BRIEF OF THE LABELING LEGISLATION COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF WOOLEN AND WORSTED MANUFACTURERS
The various measures having to do with labeling legislation as applied to textiles now before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce of the House suggest two questions:
1. Is labeling legislation necessary?
2. If so, what form should it take?
For more than 20 years there has existed a minority demand for some kind of labeling legislation, usually originating with wool growers in so far as the demand applies to cloths made of wool. During all these years spasmodically committees of Congress have held hearings on different bills introduced on the subject.
So much has been said and written with respect to these bills that is now a part of your committee's records that is seems futile to embark upon a detailed technical consideration of the subject. Everything that could be said has now already been said and is available to the members of your committee.
As to the first of the questions suggested—Is labeling legislation necessary?— our answer is that we think it is not. The steady advance in the responsibility that one merchant owes to another carried through the different branches of the woolen industry has resulted in reducing fraud and deception to a minimum. The guaranty that retailers throughout the country give to their customers, the arrangements whereby these retailers come back to those who supply their wares when fraud or misrepresentation has been practiced, and the consequent confidence of the ultimate purchaser in the retailer all tend toward protection of the public from deception and fraud. There is also keen and highly developed competition, which ultimately makes repetitious misrepresentation impossible.
"Caveat emptor " as an admonition of commerce has been relegated to the archives. In its stead "satisfaction or your money back" has come to be the slogan of daily trade between the retail distributor and the ultimate consumer. This new philosophy of business permeates the whole industry. There has never been a time when standardization as applicable to both cloth and clothing was higher.
Much of the enterprise and activity of the American Association, which this brief represents, is directed toward the elimination of fraud and commercial laxity and the ultimate protection of those who buy cloth and make it into clothing.
All of these ramifications are part of daily commerce, and it is our conviction that no legislation likely of enactmetit will perceptibly improve existing conditions, first, because it is difficult to legislate merchants into greater honesty than they voluntarily practice, or are compelled by competition to practice; and, second, because of the details and ramifications that specific labeling will impel and the opportunity for frauds and deceptions under labels that is not now resorted to.
If, however, Congress determines to enact labeling legislation in some form, it then becomes necessary to consider what form will best accomplish the object intended. In this respect, so far as the woolen industry is concerned, the extreme left is represented by the French-Capper bill, and the extreme right by the Rogers bill.
The first is a compulsory act, under the terms of which the producers of cloth in which wool is employed would be compelled to label every yard in a way to indicate its fiber content.
The second, the Rogers bill, is a voluntary act. It does not compel the producer of cloth to label, but it does compel sincerity and honesty if he does label, and it compels him to state the truth, whether orally or in writing, if he is asked to state it. In a word, the Rogers bill, as its name implies, is an honest-merchandise act. It is intended to protect the public from false labels or misrepresentation, and in that, from the point of view of the cloth manufacturer, is practical. If there were doubt of its practicability, the fact that the British merchandise marks act upon which it is patterned has been in successful operation in Great Britain for many years should dispose of it.
In considering legislation of this kind the most frequent question asked is, 'What objection can there be to telling the purchaser of a suit of clothes what *t is made of?" The answer to this question is that with the best intention in the