After you’ve designed stunning garments that you are sure will take the market by storm, the last thing you want to hear is that it can’t be sold in your target market because it’s missing a label. Or it’s missing vital information on the label. Clothing labels are an important element in fashion design, and they require more careful consideration than simply their placement on a garment. They are needed not only to comply with various country regulations but also to serve as a vital piece of information that consumers rely on. Your label must basically give clear instructions to help the customer care for the garment. At the same time, this will serve to help establish your brand identity.

Consumer protection agencies in the United States, Canada and Europe have care labelling requirements of varying stringency. A simple “made in China” tag won’t suffice anymore in most countries. While no two countries have the exact same regulations governing the labelling of clothing, the standards of the United States are a good standard to follow. By ensuring you meet these requirements, you’re less likely to encounter problems importing into the US and elsewhere, as US requirements cover most requirements worldwide.

This article will go over some basic legal requirements for clothing labels.

United States Requirements

In the United States, the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission) and the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) are the authorities managing the labelling requirements for textile and apparel products. The FTC handles the administration of care labelling requirements in this country, while the CPB handles the control and inspection of textile products entering the United States. The requirements are quite stringent and businesses that don’t comply with the provisions set forth in the laws mentioned above may face monetary penalties. The FTC can issue administrative orders to avoid violations from recurring, but if these orders are ignored, you stand to face a civil penalty of $16,000 per violation. A care label must include:

     Country of origin (where it was made)

     American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Care Labels (see below image)

     English Language

     Fibre Content (ie. 99 per cent cotton, 1 per cent spandex)

     Manufacturer/dealer identity

EU Requirements

EU textile regulations are not as strict as in the United States but still have some guidelines, depending on the country. In general:

     Country of origin is not required

     Care instruction labelling is not required

     Manufacturer identification is not required

     The label should not contain abbreviations, except those of mechanised processing codes

     Language of the target market/s must be used

     Fibre composition must be included

For the rest of the world, contact the local authorities in the country in question. Ensure to ask the following questions:

  1. Is the country of origin mandatory for labels?

  2. How does the fibre composition need to be described?

  3. Which language is necessary?

  4. Do I need written or graphical care labels?

  5. Do I need to include warning labels or text?

Multiple Country Labels

Labels can be made in a way that they are compliant with the regulations of several countries at the same time. Many large fashion brands meet both US and European Union textiles labelling standards simultaneously. It is only necessary to create a label file that includes all of the information required for each country. The US Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) has created a useful chart of general labelling requirements to make sense of varying international standards. See the image below:

Working with Clothing Manufacturers

As long as you cover your bases with regard to regulations, you are free to design your labels as you please. Garment factories often have set labeling practices for garments, but as long as you give clear instructions, these can be tweaked to include potential brand logo design or other artwork or details. Whilst his process is simple, ensure you provide the following to your garment manufacturer:

  • Label files in .ai or .eps format

  • Print position for garment

  • Colours required

  • Dimensions

  • A Font file

  • Label material

  • Label design

A note about Children’s Clothing

The United States and Europe apply the same labelling requirements for clothing for adults and children. However, the EU has very strict safety requirements for apparel that are made for children, surrounding dyes, metals etc. In the UK, all new and used children's nightwear must have a fire hazard information label. Clothing made from fabrics that are too highly flammable must not be supplied. Australia on the other hand does not differentiate between labelling requirements for adults and children.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is re-published with permission from