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U.S. Recalls Skirts Imported From India : Retail: Consumer safety board says the two-layer rayon garment is highly flammable. More than 250,000 have been distributed nationwide.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Announcing the nation’s biggest ever retail recall, federal officials Friday warned that two-layer chiffon “broomstick” skirts imported from India should not be worn because they are highly flammable.

More than a quarter million of the skirts, which are part of the summer and autumn lines of more than 20 labels, have been distributed to hundreds of retailers across the country.

“The reason that this is such a dangerous item is not just that it burns but that it burns at such a fast rate,” said Ann Brown, chairwoman of the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, which ordered the recall. The skirts will burn faster than a newspaper, if ignited, officials said.

“Fortunately we found these dangerous two-layer rayon skirts in time,” she added, noting that no injuries have been reported, although the skirts have been imported from India for at least two years.

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The skirts are long and billowy with tiny pleats, made of rayon or rayon/cotton blend, have an elastic or drawstring waistband and sometimes have bells on the hem. The top layer is sheer and the lower layer is gauze-like. They have been priced between $6 and $80 at large chain stores and small boutiques nationwide. The reason the skirts are so flammable is that the fabric is so sheer, not because it is made of rayon.

“Don’t wear this skirt,” Brown stressed. “Take it back to the place you bought it.” Three hundred retailers are cooperating with the recall.

Mark Mosher, a spokesman for Cost Plus World Market, an Oakland-based retailer with 40 stores in Western states, said the chain had removed all the dangerous skirts two weeks ago. So far, no customers have attempted to return any of the skirts, he said, but refunds will be made with no questions asked.

Mosher said Cost Plus, which is also one of the importers of the skirts, is doing everything possible to comply with the recall and it has taken a scarf made of similar material off its shelves, even though it was not ordered to do so.

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“The company is extremely happy that no one has been hurt,” Mosher said. “The company will make sure it never gets into this situation with a dangerous piece of clothing again.”

The skirts were recalled based on the Flammable Fabrics Act, which was passed in 1953. Manufacturers and importers are responsible for seeing that their products comply with the law, which specifies how long an item of clothing must take to burn to be considered safe for consumers.

The commission became suspicious that the skirts might be dangerous when a textile expert, who does not want to be named, called Patricia Fairall, a compliance officer at the commission.

There are many ways the skirts can be ignited, Brown said. “A cigarette could drop on them, or cigarette ash could set this on fire. A lighter. Brushing near a campfire. Brushing against a stove.”

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The commission named 18 of the stores where the skirts have been sold:

Abraham & Strauss Basement, Ames Ladies Wear, Annie Sez, Bealls Outlet Stores, Burlington Coat Factory, Cost Plus, Dayton’s, Filene’s Basement, Gantos, Hudson’s, Jean Nicole, Loehmann’s, Marianne, Marshalls, Marshall Field’s, One Price, Ross and T.J. Maxx.

The brand labels involved include:

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2 Kool Look, Ann Simone, Carla Freeman, Casual Designs by RAVIA, Exclusif, Fbi, Founded 1976 D II K by K.V.M., Giallo Napoli, Gold Star, LaGebi, Masone II, Minti Mode, Papillon, Phool, Renuka, Short Circuit, Steed Import Inc., Vile Parle, Xessorium and Zero Zero.

All but two of the 22 importers of the skirts are complying with the recall. The commission is still negotiating with the others. The U.S. Customs Service has been instructed to prevent any more of the skirts from entering the country.


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