A proposed class action claims Banana Republic’s SUPIMA V-Neck T-Shirts are not made from “100% Supima Cotton” as consumers are led to believe.
According to the 11-page case, testing performed on the t-shirt supports a “strong inference” that Banana Republic has used “a significant amount” of less expensive and lower quality cotton fibers in its purportedly “100% Supima Cotton” products. The suit alleges the retailer has misled consumers as to the quality of the cotton used in its V-neck t-shirts in order to charge a premium price for a product that is of a lesser value than buyers expect.
“Defendant sold more of the Product and at higher prices than it would have in the absence of this misconduct, resulting in additional profits at the expense of consumers,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit states that the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act requires manufacturers to accurately disclose the fiber composition of clothing. When it comes to cotton, the type of cotton used for a product can be determined by fiber length, with longer fibers resulting in “stronger, softer, and more durable” fabrics, the suit says. Per the case, Pima cotton is “extra-long staple” cotton, with fiber lengths of between 1.2 and 1.44 inches, and typically costs more than shorter types of cotton.
“Supima,” the suit says, is a trademarked term made from the combination of “superior” and “Pima” and used to market textile products made from 100 percent American Pima cotton, which is grown in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.
Given Pima and Supima cotton products cost more than textiles made with shorter cotton fabrics, manufacturers are incentivized to mix cotton byproducts and shorter-length fibers with premium Pima cotton in order to “gain additional profits at the expense of consumers,” the lawsuit contests.
Per the case, global standards body ASTM has developed a test to determine the length of fibers used in clothing. The lawsuit says that when Banana Republic’s SUPIMA V-Neck T-Shirt or “substantially similar products” were tested in accordance with the ASTM’s standard, the results revealed that most, if not all, of the cotton fibers used in the product were shorter than the 1.2- and 1.08-inch standard for Supima cotton. Moreover, even when adjusted by 25 percent to account for a reduction in length during manufacturing, only about 70 percent of the fibers were long enough to fall under the Supima classification, the suit alleges.
The case claims the test results “support the strong inference” that Banana Republic has not used 100 percent Supima cotton in the t-shirt product at issue, and instead included “a significant amount” of less expensive, shorter cotton fibers or cotton byproducts. According to the suit, no reasonable consumer would expect a shirt represented as containing “100% Supima Cotton” to contain less of the premium fabric than advertised, especially given Banana Republic’s reputation as a high-quality brand.
Ralph Lauren Corporation has also been named in two similar lawsuits that allege its purportedly Pima cotton products contain less of the premium fiber than represented.
The case against Banana Republic looks to represent anyone in Illinois, Iowa or Arkansas who purchased the SUPIMA V-Neck T-Shirt during the statute of limitations period.
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