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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hu

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Fashion Certifications


Not all certifications are created equal. Certifications can be a long-winded spiral of information, and often hard to understand. On one hand, they can be incredibly trustworthy and useful third-party supporters towards a more transparent and accountable industry. On another, some certifications have no clear governance process and can be bought.


As a company that has a direct focus on keeping fashion brands accountable, we have a vested interest in supporting an ever more transparent industry. Lets have a look at some of the benefits and considerations for certifications you might encounter when shopping online:



The Positives


Third-party verification can support and debunk brand claims

In an era where greenwashing and misleading marketing tactics run rampant, certifications serve as a beacon of truth. They provide consumers with tangible evidence that brands are adhering to specific environmental or ethical standards. By undergoing rigorous assessment processes, brands can earn certifications that validate their sustainability claims, helping consumers make more informed purchasing decisions. Furthermore, certifications also act as a deterrent for brands engaging in deceptive practices, as they risk losing credibility and consumer trust if their claims are proven false.


Certifications serve as an added layer of trust and governance to the manufacturing and production process

In an industry plagued by opaque supply chains and ethical ambiguities, certifications play a crucial role in holding brands accountable. By adhering to recognized standards and protocols, brands demonstrate their commitment to responsible manufacturing practices. Certifications encompass various aspects of sustainability, including fair labor practices, environmental stewardship, and animal welfare. By obtaining certifications, brands signal their dedication to upholding these principles, thereby fostering greater transparency and accountability throughout the fashion supply chain. Moreover, certifications provide assurance to consumers that their purchases align with their values, enabling them to support brands that prioritize social and environmental responsibility.


The Negatives


Not all certifications have a transparent process

While certifications are intended to provide clarity and assurance to consumers, not all certification processes are transparent or easily understood. Some certification bodies may lack clear criteria or standards for evaluation, making it difficult for consumers to discern the legitimacy of a certification. Additionally, the assessment processes and decision-making criteria employed by certification bodies may not be readily accessible to the public, further contributing to the lack of transparency. Without transparent processes, consumers may find it challenging to trust the validity and reliability of certifications, undermining their effectiveness as a tool for informed decision-making.


Anyone can make a certification

The proliferation of certifications can be both a blessing and a curse. While reputable certifications are backed by established organizations with stringent evaluation processes, the absence of regulatory oversight means that virtually anyone with an interest can create a certification. This lack of oversight opens the door to certification schemes that prioritize profit over principles, allowing brands to obtain certifications without regard to institutional or transparent goals. As a result, consumers may encounter certifications that lack credibility or meaningful standards, leading to confusion and skepticism regarding their legitimacy.


So what are the top certifications to watch for?



People


1. Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certification ensures that products have been produced in accordance with fair labor practices and environmental standards. It guarantees fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain.

2. B-Corp Certified

B-Corp Certification is awarded to companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B-Corp certified companies are committed to balancing profit with purpose and using business as a force for good.

3. OEKO-TEX

OEKO-TEX certification ensures that textile products have been tested for harmful substances and are safe for human health. It sets standards for the use of chemicals in textile manufacturing and promotes environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.


Planet

1. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

The GOTS certification ensures that textiles have been produced using organic fibers and meet strict environmental and social criteria throughout the entire production process. It prohibits the use of toxic chemicals and promotes sustainable practices from farm to finished product.


2. The Global Recycled Standard

The Global Recycled Standard certifies products made from recycled materials and ensures the traceability and integrity of the supply chain. It sets requirements for the use of recycled content, social and environmental practices, and labeling and marketing claims.

3. Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

Cradle to Cradle certification evaluates products based on their environmental performance and circularity. It assesses factors such as material health, recyclability, renewable energy use, water stewardship, and social fairness to promote products that are safe, healthy, and sustainable throughout their lifecycle.

4. Bluesign Standard

The Bluesign Standard certifies textiles that have been produced with minimal impact on the environment and human health. It evaluates the entire production process, from raw materials and chemicals to water and energy use, to ensure compliance with strict environmental and safety standards.


Animals


1. Leaping Bunny

The Leaping Bunny certification is awarded to cosmetic, personal care, and household product companies that have committed to producing cruelty-free products. It guarantees that products and ingredients have not been tested on animals at any stage of the manufacturing process.


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