Can We Really Trust Certifications Within The Fashion Industry?

With so many labels and certifications out there, is it possible to know them all and even completely trust them? What guarantees us their transparency and efficacy?

When it comes to certifications, the subject can be full of information and a little bit vague at the same time.

The main problem about certifications within the fashion industry is that there isn’t just one organization controlling and certifying the whole process and supply chain; instead, we have too many different organizations that control and verify different areas of the clothing industry.

Let’s break it down first to the different certifications and their approaches.

Ethical certifications:

  • Fair trade mark: The principal certification for a fairer industry. It guarantees better remuneration for producers, better working conditions all while respecting the environment.


  • Max Havelaar Fairtrade Certified Cotton: It guarantees better remuneration for producers and workers. It’s the only certification to apply a guaranteed minimum price.


  • Fair Wear Foundation: Their labor practice code identifies 8 working norms based on the conventions of the international labor organization and the universal declaration of human rights.


  • Certified B-Corporation: The only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance, from supply chain and input materials to employee benefit.


  • WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production): The WRAP program certifies facilities for compliance with the 12 WRAP Principles which assure safe, legal, and ethical manufacturing processes.


  • BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative): An industry-driven movement that aims to monitor and assess workplace standards across the global supply chain.

Sustainable certifications:

  • OEKO-TEX 100 Organic and Ecological Textiles: One of the most popular labels. It certifies that the textiles don’t contain any harmful substances.


  • GOTS Global Organic Textile Standard: International certification that guarantees the organic origins of the textiles. It controls that the process of production and transformation of the fabrics are environmentally friendly and respectful of their workers.


  • ECOCERT: It guarantees that clothing is respectful of the environment during all its life cycle.


  • EUROPEAN ECOLABEL: It controls that the products are respectful of the environment, based on the UE regulations.


  • GSR Global Recycled Standard: International norm that establishes the certification of recycled contents, of the control chain, environmental and social practices, and restrictions on the chemical compositions.


  • FCS Forest Stewardship Council: It promotes responsible management of forests by ensuring that social, environmental, and economic issues are respected.


  • Cradle to cradle: It develops the notion of “upcycling”. They conceptualize the life cycle of a product or service to be infinite.

Cruelty-free certifications.

  • Leaping Bunny: Internationally known, they have strict requirements and criteria and perform independent audits.


  • Peta’s beauty without bunnies: The most popular and used cruelty-free certification.


  • Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF): independent, non-profit organization with strict certification criteria. They have as well a list of vegan, vegetarian, and palm oil-free brand's list.

Vegan certifications.

  • PETA-approved vegan: It certifies individual products, entire collections, or entire brands, as well as fibers and materials, clothing, accessories, and home furnishings.


  • The vegan trademark: It certifies individual products, either clothing, cosmetics, retailers, or food.

Vegan & Ethical certifications

  • F.A.K.E. Certification: The founder of the F.A.K.E. movement (Jonathan Ohayon) takes the time to interview every brand (over the phone) that is a part of the movement (the FAKER designers) and ask them many questions to make sure that they share good values (AKA Vegan and Ethically made).

As one can see, there are certifications and labels for different areas and they are also divided by social, responsible, biodiversity aspects, but there is not one single label that can guarantee that they will treat every single aspect of the issues we can think of when it comes to the fashion industry.

So, what’s even the point of certifications?

The answer will be to guide us into the more convenient choice of our own.

Unfortunately, they won’t do all the work for us and give us all the answers we need but they can serve as guidelines for our necessities and doubts. It’s harder work for us because we must be sure that just one single brand can tick all or most of the boxes and that’s research to do on our own but if we are engaged and want to be responsible, it comes as some sort of routine and habit once you are used to it.

Should we always rely on certifications?

Yes and no.

Certifications are here to make sure that the production of clothing is ethical, sustainable, healthy, engaged, and we do need them for us, the clients, to be conscious about it and be certain that we can trust a brand. At the same time, it’s always good to not completely rely on them, not a hundred percent. In today’s world certifications have become some sort of a trend, you see them everywhere and in everything and they work out for you to have a clear mind on your consumerism choices, but they can just be words nowadays (not always just to clarify) more than concrete actions.

We can’t be 100% sure of the accuracy of certifications. For example, some big factories can be certified “ethical” but use smaller contractors, to help them create different garments, that are not using ethical practices.

No brand can be blindly trusted, especially for some lifelong labels that don’t audit enough and never by surprise.

So, what can we do?

Research, as we said, it is hard work, but it needs to be done.

Another good option is local and small companies. Certifications can be costly when you are just a brand-new company and just because you cannot afford the label doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not ethical. The lack of certification on local or small companies doesn’t mean we have to avoid them.

The best way to forge an opinion about a brand is to directly reach it out about its ethical standards and analyze the responses given (if given), using the methods given in the former article (“How to make sure a brand is Ethical?”).


In the end, this is some sort of a “Am I getting the right vibes from the brand?” Your instinct combined with an investigation about the brands and their certifications will always remain the safest way to create an entrusted relationship with your favorite or future favorite brands. Where certifications are a part of the solution, they are not the solution as a whole.

georgina servin
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