EFF Logo


Standards & labelling

  1. Affiliation with ethical standards bodies and labelling initiatives
  2. Fair trade labelling
  3. Organic standards
  4. Eco-labelling
  5. Multi-label boutiques with ethical buying policies

1. Affiliation with ethical standards bodies and labelling initiatives

There are a number of organisations which work with fashion designers, organisations and businesses to facilitate, support, or monitor sustainable practices and standards.

The Ethical Fashion Forum works with fashion businesses through its Ethical Policy Framework, to encourage and support progressive ethical standards.


MADE-BY is an independent consumer label for fashion companies who continuously improve and are transparent about the social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the whole supply chain of their collections.

  • The MADE-BY label gives consumers the assurance that a brand produces with respect for people and planet to its best efforts.
  • MADE-BY offers fashion companies. advice and support for gradually improving the social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the whole supply chain of their collections.
  • MADE-BY assists suppliers in achieving social or environmental certification and in sourcing sustainable materials such as organic cotton by means of the MADE-BY network of farmers, spinners and fabric suppliers.


The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is the global representative body of over 350 organisations committed to 100% Fair Trade. The WFTO operates in 70 countries across 5 regions; Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North American and the Pacific Rim, with elected global and regional boards, to create market access through policy, advocacy, campaigning, marketing and monitoring.

WFTO has developed 10 principles for fair trade organisations, which members must adhere to. These principles are concerned with reaching the economically disadvantaged, transparency and accountability, capacity building, promoting Fair Trade, and improving the situation of women, child labour, working conditions, the environment and the payment of a fair price.

All WFTO members are required to pass through a monitoring process, which is based on a self assessment against the 10 Principles of Fair Trade. The aim of monitoring is to check the performance of our members against the standards, in order to improve their practices and set goals for the future.


(vendors in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America)

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade union organisations. The purpose of the ETI is to promote and improve the implementation of corporate codes of practice which cover supply chain working conditions. The ultimate goal of the ETI is to ensure that the working conditions of workers producing for the UK market meet or exceed international labour standards. The ETI has corporate members, trade union members, and NGO members. A number of large high street retailers in the fashion sector are members of the ETI. ETI membership is also open to companies in any other industry sector.

Corporate members of the ETI must commit to a set of membership criteria, including the ETI base code , must monitor and verify compliance with this. Performance with regard to monitoring practice and implementation of codes must be reported annually to the ETI.


2. Fair trade labelling

Fair trade standards for seed cotton (the raw cotton, before ginning) were developed in 2004, and fair trade labels for seed-cotton were launched in France, Switzerland and the UK in 2005.

These labels certify that cotton producers have received a fair deal for their work. For further details, see the Fairtrade Standards for Seed Cotton from the Fair trade Labelling Organsation (FLO) website, www.fairtrade.net

It is important to note that the fairtrade standards associated with these labels only cover the cotton production process, and do not provide fair trade guarantees for the garment production phase.

However, the label does require a social compliance assessment covering the processing and manufacturing. If a piece of clothing carries the FAIRTRADE Mark, this means that it was made with at least 50% Fairtrade-certified materials (non-cotton materials such as accessories or elastic fibres do not have to be Fairtrade). However 100% of the cotton in this piece of clothing is Fairtrade. Processors and manufacturers are required to produce evidence that minimum national and international legislations with respect to labour rights are adhered to.

Currently there is no fair-trade label which covers the whole garment production process from start to finish, although the Fair trade Labelling Organisation is working to develop this. To get more information on the social standards behind fashion labels (how workers are treated in the supply chain) which promote themselves as ethical, look out for affiliation with ethical standards bodies and labelling initiatives – see above.

3. Organic standards

There are a number of labels which certify organic standards in clothing, including the Soil Association label and the EKO label.

It is important to note that if a piece of clothing bears a label saying 100% organic cotton- this normally refers to the cotton itself only, and does not include the processing and manufacturing phases (spinning, weaving, dying, manufacture)

What can you expect from a 100% certified organic cotton t-shirt?

  • 100% of cotton fibres are certified organic- no synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilisers have been used
  • The garment does not contain ANY conventional cotton: no farmers have suffered from pesticide poisoning to produce the garments cotton fibre.
  • The cotton is guaranteed GM-free.
  • The garment contains a maximum of 10% synthetic or man-made fibres (with restrictions- for elasticity in socks, for example)

For more information visit the Pesticide Action Network site to download “My Sustainable T-Shirt Guide to Organic, Fair Trade, and other Eco Standards and labels for Cotton textiles”

4. Eco-labelling

There are close to 100 different labels addressing environmental or social sustainability, or consumers’ health, in the textile and clothing industry. Those labels have been developed by either public institutions (national or supra-national), private certification agencies, NGOs, industry federations, or by retailers themselves.

Two of the most common Eco-Labels which can be found in Europe are the Oko-Tex standard 100 mark, which looks particularly at health standards, and the European Eco-Label for Textile Products, which looks particularly at reducing water pollution during the supply chain for textile products.

For further information visit the Pesticide Action Network site to download “My Sustainable T-Shirt Guide to Organic, Fair Trade, and other Eco Standards and labels for Cotton textiles”

5. Multi-label boutiques with ethical buying policies

There are several multi-label boutiques/ retailers which carefully evaluate the fashion products and businesses they stock to ensure that they meet specific standards. Check websites for information on their buying policies.


BAFTS The British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) is a network of independent fair trade shops across the UK, many of which stock garments and accessories. BAFTS promotes fair trade retailing in the UK, seeks to raise the profile of fair trade on the High Street and provide a point of contact and communication for the exchange of ideas amongst BAFTS members.


Many other European countries have national networks of fair trade shops. Details can be found at www.worldshops.org

More information

Useful links