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Ethical Fashion Labelling

We list ethical clothing certification schemes that you can trust.

Seeking certified organic and fairly traded clothing is an easy way to avoid the confusion posed by the term ‘ethical brand’.

But ethical clothing is often adorned with a range of positive sounding labels that are not always easy to understand.

This may include a clothing label that just says ‘organic’ or ‘fair trade’ without any further information or evidence of independent accreditation or certification.

As high street shops begin to add some fair trade and organic cotton lines, you may start seeing more of these terms on the clothes you buy.

Here are the most commonly used labels and the highlights of what their standard means, to help you cut through the confusion.

Soil Association Organic logo


The Soil Association certifies clothing to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), an international standard. A textile product carrying the GOTS label 'organic' must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibres, whereas a product with the label 'made with organic' must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres.

Plus the label guarantees that the garment isn't made with any genetically modified products. Around 13% of cotton grown worldwide is GM cotton (genetically modified)

Some social standards are also incorporated into GOTS standards for all textile processing and manufacturing stages. For example, no forced or child labour is used and workers are paid a living wage.

Our quick guide to organic fashion highlights some of the best organic brands.

Fairtrade International Logo

FAIRTRADE mark (all materials)

If you see the FAIRTRADE mark on a garment it means that all the raw cotton has been sourced from a Fairtrade-certified producer organisation.

Those growing the cotton received a better price. Workers on farms received fair pay and conditions. Fairtrade retailers also pay a ‘Fairtrade premium’, which goes into a communal fund for farmers and workers to use as they see fit.

It’s also been produced in a registered supply chain where there’s full traceability of the cotton at every stage of a garment’s production from the spinning of the cotton to assembly of the finished item. This mark also excludes the use of GM cotton.

The mark can be used on 100% cotton clothing, or clothes with a blended fabric if 100% of the cotton was Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade mark is issued by Fairtrade International. The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK member of Fairtrade International.

Our quick guide to fair trade fashion lists a number of FAIRTRADE brands.

Fairtrade International has a guide to all the different marks it uses.

FAIRTRADE textile production logo

FAIRTRADE Textile Production Mark

Whenever you see the FAIRTRADE mark on an item of clothing with the words ‘FAIRTRADE TEXTILE PRODUCTION’, it indicates that Fairtade standards were met during production, e.g. in the factories and cotton mills.

This mark can be used alongside the one for Fairtrade cotton, indicating that it was fairly traded at every stage of the supply chain.

Fairtrade Cotton logo

FAIRTRADE Mark (some cotton)

If you see the FAIRTRADE logo with an arrow next to it, it means that the company sourced Fairtrade cotton through a mass balance system (i.e. sourced enough Fairtrade cotton to cover the production of the garment, but at some stage in its supply chain mixed it with conventional cotton for other products)

World Fair Trade Organisation logo

WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark (company mark)

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is another fair trade labelling organisation.

A garment carrying the WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark shows that the company which makes the garment has successfully passed the WFTO Guarantee System process.

This is an audit of the company’s entire supply chain according to the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, with criteria based on the 10 Fair Trade Principles and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.

The WFTO label doesn’t guarantee a certified product, but signifies that a company is making efforts to improve working conditions in its supply chain.

Our quick guide to fair trade fashion explains how to distinguish these labels from the greenwash.

Fair Wear logo

Fair Wear Foundation (company mark)

Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is an independent, non-profit organisation that works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for garment workers. FWF members agree to work towards implementation of the FWF Code of Labour Practices and to having all their factories independently monitored.

The FWF code comprises eight labour standards based on ILO Conventions and the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights. BAM, Kuyichi and Nudie Jeans are all listed as members.

The FWF label doesn’t guarantee a certified product, but signifies that a company is making efforts to improve working conditions in its supply chain.