Global Compliance

Aug 09, 2013

Global Compliance

As the primary trade association for the U.S. apparel and footwear industry, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) represents more than 75% of the U.S. apparel and footwear industry and its more than 1,000 world-famous name brands. Each year, our industry imports more than two billion pairs of shoes and 20 billion garments to sell in the United States.

When we get dressed each day, we wear more than clothes and shoes.  We wear all of the product safety compliance challenges that our industry most overcome to make clothes and shoes possible. With more than 98 % of the footwear and nearly 98% of the apparel sold in the United States produced globally, it is important to fully understand all of these important compliance issues to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

To help educate the global apparel and footwear supply chain about these challenges, AAFA returned to Dongguan, China, on Thursday, March 21, 2013, with our International Product Safety and Environmental Compliance Conference. The conference brought together industry leaders to educate overseas factories and suppliers on the numerous regulatory standards, restricted substances lists, chemical management programs and sustainability issues required of supply chain operations.

This trip marked our third visit to Dongguan over the last few years, and each time AAFA looks forward to seeing our members and other industry professionals as we cover issues relevant to apparel and footwear companies competing in an ever changing regulatory environment. 

During this conference, AAFA released the 12th edition of the AAFA Restricted Substances List (RSL). 

The AAFA RSL, first released in the summer of 2007, is the first of its kind. The list covers chemicals and other substances whose presence in a product is restricted through a government regulation or law. The list identifies the most restrictive iteration of that regulation worldwide. Every six months, the publication is reviewed, updated, and the latest version is made available for free at

This twelfth release has been updated to reflect changes spurred by the European Union’s REACH program, as well as other state and international regulations.

AAFA remains committed to providing the U.S. apparel and footwear industry with a variety of tools to help make sound sourcing decisions. The AAFA RSL assists the industry in creating an even safer and more sustainable supply chain.

The AAFA RSL is available in four languages: English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish. In addition to the global RSL, AAFA will continue to offer training sessions and workshops on regulating restricted substances in apparel, footwear, and textile products, as well as product safety, sustainability, and environmental compliance issues.

In addition to ensuring product safety and adherence to environmental regulations, the U.S. apparel and footwear industry maintains the highest commitment to ensuring all workers in the global apparel and footwear industry are treated with fairness and respect. At the same time, the mounting reporting requirements and disclosure mandates are proving difficult to manage. Instead of shying away from these responsibilities, AAFA has worked with its membership to create helpful tools and resources to take the guess work out of corporate social responsibility.

Now accessible at, AAFA members and the industry at large have easy access to three new corporate social responsibility resources, along with a growing tool box of additional resources addressing product safety, chemical management, restricted substances, labeling, and global retail growth, are available on the AAFA website at

Please visit for all of our upcoming educational and training programs.


Kevin M. Burke is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.Since he joined AAFA in June 2001, AAFA has grown its membership base, its member programs, its financial position, and its standing on Capitol Hill. Burke currently serves as chairman of Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), and sits on the board of the AAFA Education Foundation, the Bryce Harlow Foundation, the Canadian American Business Council, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation. He is also a member of various political and trade association CEO groups in the Washington, D.C. area. Get connected with him


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