Ingredient cerfiticates –labels for an ingredient of a product or to highlight a certain aspect of the manufacturing process– are becoming more and more common in fashion. Reasons for this include the establishment and high visibility of certain ingredient certification marks in the market like the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and the successful partnerships of some of these labels with big fashion players. Worth mentioning is the Raw for the Oceans collection by G-Star Raw launched in 2014 in cooperation with Bionic, a company that transforms fibers made from recycled plastic into durable textiles.

For brand management consulting firm Braind, consumers trust ingredient certificates in many cases as a seal of quality and trust. During a consumer study carried out among 1,800 consumers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2014, Braind obtained an overwhelming conclusion: 93% of all participants considered ingredient labeling representing a business standard, a sustainable or ethical production, a certification or a secure transaction as more or equally important for them in the future.

Certainly, they provide additional information on a certain aspect of a product to build additional trust; consumers, for their part, find relief on this identification and the overall product image is more positive. Once all these functions are fulfilled, consumers have an increased willingness to buy and a higher consent to pay a higher price for an item. Brand loyalty will be created leading to more frequent repurchase activities. These conclusions are all included within Braind’s latest report ‘Who made my clothes?’ which also warns against the challenges ahead for ingredient branding.

Firstly, the firm points out that the market is highly fragmented and each of the many labels or standards out there cover only a segment of the demands for fair fashion. Whether the labeling focuses on materiality, production methodology or resources, only those that go through a brand-building process and achieve to become relevant to their respective target audience will get consumers seeking them actively.

A second burden for ingredient certifications is that the access to the bulk consumers is in danger, as large high-street retailers are trying to establish their own sustainability solutions, such as Swedish juggernaut H&M with their Conscious Collection, where garments are made of 100% organic cotton.

At the light of these difficulties, Braind emphasizes the need to end the current scattered landscape of subordinated labels and activities and supports more holistic and independent standards –less ingredient labels, but with more scopes of action and thus a stronger market impact, so that a breakthrough in the demand chain for fair fashion may happen.