The T-Shirt's small print

Material specifications in PIM

It’s about the fine print and finding the bad lenses in the package. More concretely: What do material specifications on sewn-in labels in garments have to do with the rules and regulations of a PIM system?

The text on sewn-in labels in our garments can be quite long. Not only information on proper care and washing can be found there, but also information on the company, the country of manufacture and the proportions of the fabrics used are listed there. The fact that this is the case and what the labels have to look like is regulated in the EU's Textile Labelling Act. [1] This regulation prescribes rules for the "designation of textile fibers and the related labeling and marking of the fiber composition of textile products" (p.1).  

This regulation obliges all EU countries to implement it and thus all those who trade in or manufacture textile products to label them correctly. This is to ensure that products sold in the EU meet high health, safety and environmental standards. Non-compliance may result in warnings.

The substances used in a T-shirt must first and foremost be identified by the producers of the shirts by means of a label (permanent, easily readable, visible and accessible (p. 7)) or an instruction leaflet. For this purpose, the EU provides a list of terms to be used. The terms must correspond 1:1 to the list and may not be abbreviated. This is one of the prerequisites for selling and trading products on the market. Online retailers are also obliged to inform potential customers directly and presently about the substances used in the online store before purchase. (p.8) This is usually done on the respective product pages (PDP - Product Detail Page).

Interim conclusion  

  •    EU regulation obliges labeling of material details.  
  •    Labeling of the materials used in the product itself and in the online store before purchase  
  •    EU specifies permitted designations for textile fibers

In order to meet the legal requirements and counteract the risk of a warning notice, eCommerce retailers can maintain and manage the labels via a PIM system. The implemented rules in such a system allow the definition of criteria for each input field (e.g. title length, use of spaces, upper/lower case, etc.). In this way, non-permissible entries are identified as errors and ensure the basis for high data quality.

Sources of product information

A possible path of material specification information into a Product Informatione Management system.

In order to understand why errors can occur in the first place, it is worth taking a look at a possible scenario involving the sources of a fashion retailer's product data - specifically material specifications. Where does these information actually come from and what are the possible cycles or workflows?  

In the first step, the company receives product information from manufacturers and/or suppliers, for example as an Excel or PDF document. Depending on the IT landscape and workflows, this product information is automatically or manually entered into the company's enterprise resource planning system. Depending on the degree of modernization, this enterprise resource planning (ERP) system has options for automating processes, but these are at the level of the flow of goods, not at the level of the product data. The focus here is more on purchase prices, margins, warehouse capacities, ordering processes or financial accounting. Errors can occur at the level of product information.

An ERP can be one of the main suppliers of material information. Another supplier of relevant product information can be an external service provider such as a photo studio. For example, this studio records the data of the label in the respective article. Direct access of the service providers to the Product Information Management system can streamline the input workflow here.

Material details in OctoPIM

Two sets of rules are conceivable in our concrete case of material specifications.  

On the one hand, there is a rule that allows only those terms that come from the list of permitted terms of the EU regulation (exact list, [1] - p. 14). On the other hand, it is the sum of the indications of the proportions of the textiles used. (Ex. 100% cotton or 90% cotton and 10% spandex).  

Thus, the bad lenses can be found in the package as soon as these rules are violated. The team around the product care can quickly intervene and correct.

List of textile fiber names in OctoPIM

Let's take a concrete look at the OctoPIM to give the small print a home.  Here, base families define the lowest common denominator of attributes for a group of physical products. In a base family 'clothing', for example, the attribute material can be created in addition to color, size or name. The concretization of the possible attributes occurs in the product area. This is therefore the place where the list of possible materials can be formulated.  



The workflow for creating the possible names of textile fibers could look as follows:  

  • Base family: Create attribute material details  
  • Family: Concretize attribute via list (cotton, linen, silk, jute, ...)
  • Product: Select concrete material for physical article

Different material shares are created under the Material attribute in the family.

The material proportions defined in the family are specified in the product for the respective articles.

The workflow for defining the proportion distribution of textile fibers can be solved according to the current state of the system, in which all possible distributions are listed in the attribute list. Thus, material mixtures such as 90% construction,wool, 10% spandex are also included.


With the help of a Product Information Management system, material data can be maintained as product attributes at a central location. This central maintenance ensures complete, consistent, high-quality data quality.


[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011R1007-20180215