With sustainability becoming a more important factor in purchasing decisions, many consumers are beginning to check their clothing labels to see whether they carry more information than just the fabric composition and care directions. Growing interest surrounding the environmental and social impact of clothing is causing more consumers, brands and retailers to seek out for credible “eco-labels”. Looking for details on sourcing, how and where products are made and shipped, 84% of consumers (IBM) say brand trust is important when selecting a product with sustainability in mind. Adding an eco-label is one way to reinforce sustainability efforts and further educate concerned consumers, leading to an increase in sustainable labelling within the fashion industry in recent years. But what constitutes an eco-label, and how do consumers know which ones they can fully trust?
An eco-label is a voluntary tag that certifies a garment or product as sustainable by listing its full credentials. According to the Ecolabel Index, an independent global directory of ecolabels and certification schemes, there are currently more than 450 different eco-labels (Ecolabel Index) across 25 different sectors on the market. Organizations ranging from the Better Cotton Initiative, Global Organic Textile Standard to the Fairtrade Foundation and OEKO-Tex Standard all work with manufacturers and retailers to share information via labels. These details cover various ethical and environmental issues to offer consumers more clarity and transparency concerning how and where the end product was made. With 88% percent of consumers (Forbes) looking for brands to help them make more sustainable decisions, according to a recent Forbes study, the need to include trustworthy, sustainable labels or swing tags on garments is bigger than ever before.
Although the majority of these eco-labels have emerged over the past two decades, each certification adheres to a different standard which sometimes can be confusing for consumers to comprehend which label is reliable. A report from the Changing Markets Foundation found that “despite the proliferation of different initiatives, there is no overarching scheme that satisfactorily addresses sustainability performance across the whole supply chain”. As many of these eco-labels only cover one aspect of the supply chain, they lack full transparency into the life-cycle of a product and its total impact.
One way forward for fashion eco-label and certifications to set the bar higher is by placing transparency, independence, a holistic approach with high levels of traceability and continuous improvement first. This is why leading sustainable fibre manufacturer – Lenzing Group, devised a unique system, the Lenzing E-Branding Service, to provide retailers and brands an efficient way to highlight their use of responsible and ethically sourced products.
Supporting the notion that transparency is the first step towards building a more sustainable textile industry, the Lenzing E-Branding Service is a digital platform that verifies the company’s fibres by offering full traceability from raw fibre all the way through to the finished product. By using the Lenzing E-Branding Service to apply for fabric certifications, licenses and order TENCEL™ swing tags from Lenzing’s flagship textile brand, manufacturers and retailers can use the system to track their products and enhance their own supply chain transparency.
With millions of TENCEL™ swing tags currently in the global fashion marketplace today, consumers have direct access to where the garment was made, what processes and technology were used and more about the retailer’s supply chain process through a QR Code. However, manufacturers and retailers must first acquire a license to use the TENCEL™ brand in their end product with Lenzing to ensure standards are kept to the highest level. Once they have the license, they have official permission to feature the TENCEL™ brand logo on their product or swing tag. The presence of the swing tag acts as a guarantee and reassurance that the final product was ethically produced and makes it easier for consumers to search for and identify sustainable garments.
“Consumers today are eager for more information from fashion brands concerning their supply chain, the materials used and their environmental commitment to reduce environmental impact,” comments Florian Heubrandner, Vice President Global Textiles Business at Lenzing. “While they wish to make conscious and sustainably focused purchasing decisions, yet they can only do so if they recognise and can trust the label or packaging of what is in the final product. This shows that transparency in the supply chain is becoming even more important from this point of view.”
Photo credit: Lenzing