Sadly, the horrific incident to Claudia Winkleman's daughter at Halloween, highlights the fact that there is far more at stake to a parent than just the base cost of the product, especially when there is now so much demand for parents to supply costumes for events regularly for school projects as well as for just dressing up at home.
Quite apart from the potential difference in quality of fabrics for garments, allowing a costume to be used for many years and passed down to other family members or becoming part of the dressing up box, there is also the issue of safety and the question as to whether mass produced items, imported from foreign countries always pass the same rigourous testing either before they arrive in the UK, or by the buyers before they hit the supermarket shelves or market stall rails.
Buying from a smaller business and knowing that your kids costume has been made in the UK and by what company may not have been important to everyone on a budget up to now but parents might now think twice about where they purchase their child's costume from and how much investment and research has gone into the costume's manufacture and more particularly, its safety.
When we first started our business, we wanted to ensure that we knew exactly where all of our products were made and by whom. As a small business, reputation is EVERYTHING. and part of that is delivering a quality product that will last and be value for money in the long run, if not the short term. We chose to retail Charlie Crow costumes for that reason.
Charlie Crow kids costumes all comply with Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC
Charlie Crow use the following harminised standards to demonstrate conformity;
EN 71- Part 1:2011 Physical and Mechanical Properties.
EN 71-1:2011 Labelling.
EN 71- 3 2011 Migration of certain elements.
EN 14682:2004 Safety of Children’s clothing.
BS 7907:1997 Code of Practice for the design and Manufacture of Children’s Clothing to Promote Mechanical Safety.
REACH Annex XIV.
Their packaging film complies with the folowing EC directives on packaging and packaging waste.
94/62/EC - 91/338/EC - 2002/95/EC - DIN EN 71-3 and DIN EN 1122
Toys that are sold within the European Union are required to bear the CE mark. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets the European Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), and has undergone a variety of product tests to ensure that it is safe for use.
The main European standard for mechanical, physical and chemical testing of toys is EN 71: Safety of toys. The standard is currently split into a series of 11 individual parts (see box 1), with the first three being of a more general nature. Part 1 covers general mechanical physical testing, part 2 describes flammability testing and part 3 deals with the migration of certain chemicals. The remaining parts are more specific in that they cover particular product types or more specialised testing procedures.
Part 2 of the standard is intended to reduce the risks of burn injuries associated with children being in intimate contact with certain kinds of toy. Most materials used in the production of toys will burn if exposed to an appropriate ignition source. Therefore, it is not considered practical to require toys to be non-flammable. Instead, the different test methods are based on a limited rate of spread of flame or maximum ‘after flame time’, which is intended to allow the child to drop the toy or become distanced from the product before serious injury occurs.
The standard concentrates on:
- clothes worn by a child as disguise costumes – for example, a nurse’s outfit
- toys a child can enter, such as play tents and tunnels
- soft filled toys – for instance, animals and dolls for cuddling by a child
- children’s masks and wigs.
There are various requirements that need to be achieved when testing the flammability of a toy, which are dependent on the type of product that is being tested. For some toys, the most important characteristic is the rate of spread of flame, which should be no more than 30mm/s. For other types of toy, the maximum flaming time is important (for beards, wigs and masks), as well as an absence of flaming debris or molten drips. Common to all is the prohibition of celluloid materials and pile fabrics that exhibit surface flash characteristics.
Prior to testing, certain types of toy should be washed or cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations where available, or soaked in water then drained and dried if no guidance is provided. Toys where the label or instructions specifically state that washing is not recommended have generally been tested as received. However, the new Toy Safety Directive includes a requirement for hygiene for toys intended for children under 36 months. These toys must be able to be cleaned (washable if textile toys), and they have to meet with requirements after this washing.
Testing is carried out in a specified flammability chamber after preconditioning in an environment at a temperature of 20±5ºC and a relative humidity of 65±5 per cent RH for at least seven hours. A small gas flame is applied to the sample for a specified period of time. Upon removal of the flame, the time of any continued burning is recorded. When required, the rate of spread of flame is determined by measuring the time for the flames to spread over a known distance – sometimes achieved by the use of marker threads that control automated timing equipment. Samples that burn more quickly than 30mm/s are considered to have failed, while certain sample types with a burning rate between 10mm/s and 30mm/s must display the following warning: ‘Warning! Keep away from fire’.
The masks which Theatrical Threads sell, also carry a CE mark and are covered by the above safety directive
There is a lot of good reasoning behind the idea that fancy dress costumes should have to comply with the same legislation as children's nightwear and be reclassified as clothing, rather than as toys.
In the meantime, we hope as customers that you will agree that sometimes you get exactly what you pay for - and whilst that may not mean a full wallet when your child required yet another costume for school, that paying just that little bit more may include more peace of mind....