Do you know how to read the composition labels of the clothes you buy? If the answer is no, this article is for you! Composition tags are those little bits of fabric inside your clothes that contain valuable information. Understanding this information will allow you to make smarter choices when it comes to fashion and maintaining your wardrobe. Let’s go!
Have they always existed?
Let’s start with a bit of history (don’t worry, it’ll be quick and fun). Composition labels first appeared in the early 20th century, when governments began to require manufacturers to inform consumers about the composition of their products. Since then, they have become an essential element in ensuring that we choose clothes that correspond to our needs and our values.
Know how to read composition labels for informed choices
These labels are veritable goldmines of information. They tell you the composition of the materials, the maintenance instructions and often the country of manufacture. Some brands even go so far as to specify environmental and ethical certifications. Here is a short guide to the elements you can find on your labels:
- The composition of the materials : This is arguably the most important part of the etiquette. It tells you the percentages of the different fibers present in the garment. It can be cotton, wool, polyester, silk, etc.
- Maintenance instructions : These small symbols represent instructions for washing, drying, ironing and dry cleaning your garment. Following these instructions guarantees you an optimal lifespan for your clothes.
- The country of manufacture : This information can be important if you wish to favor local production or if you are attentive to the working conditions of the workers.
- Environmental and ethical certifications : Some labels, such as GOTS or Oeko-Tex, guarantee that the garment has been manufactured with respect for the environment and workers.
To stop being fooled by brands!
Learning to read composition labels is also ESSENTIAL for buying clothes at the right price. By understanding the materials used, you can avoid paying too much for less expensive or inferior materials. For example, you wouldn’t want to pay top dollar for a polyester garment when you were thinking of buying silk, or spend an excessive amount of money on a low-end polyamide when you were thinking of buying a quality cotton jersey fabric. Being informed about the compositions makes it possible to make judicious choices and to make the most of your clothing budget.
What are the main materials that you can find in store?
Cotton: softness and versatility
Cotton is a natural fiber widely used in the textile industry. Its softness, absorbency and hypoallergenic character make it a popular choice for many garments. However, traditional cotton production requires large amounts of water and pesticides. For a more ecological choice, choose organic cottonwhich uses agricultural practices that are more respectful of the environment.
Wool: warmth and durability
The wool, of animal origin, generally comes from sheep fleece. It is recognized for its insulating properties, which provide pleasant warmth, and its resistance to wear. To ensure wool is ethically and sustainably sourced, look for animal welfare and responsible resource management labels.
Polyester: lightness and ease of maintenance
Polyester is a synthetic fiber widely used in the manufacture of clothing for its lightness, its resistance and ease of maintenance. However, it is derived from petroleum and its production can have a negative impact on the environment. Moreover, it is not not biodegradable and contributes to microplastic pollution. When choosing polyester clothing, choose recycled polyester to minimize your environmental impact.
Silk: elegance and comfort
We hear a lot about silk but in the end do we really know this fiber? Silk is natural of animal origin, produced by silkworms and highly valued for its luxurious feel, elegance and ability to regulate temperature. However, the production of silk can raise ethical concerns due to the way the silkworms are treated. Look for brands that use ethical or plant-based silk, such as synthetic spider silkto take advantage of its advantages while respecting your values.
Linen: freshness and durability
Particularly appreciated for its freshness, its solidity and its biodegradable nature, linen is a natural fiber of vegetable origin, resulting from the flax plant. Namely that the cultivation of flax requires little water and pesticides, which makes it an ecological choice. But if you want to go even further, look for environmental certifications such as the European Flax label.
Lyocell: softness and innovation
Lyocell is a plant-based fiber made from wood pulp, usually eucalyptus or beech. This innovative material is soft, breathable and hard-wearing. It is produced through a process of closed-loop manufacturing, which means that the chemicals used are recovered and reusedthus minimizing the environmental impact.
Polyamide: resistance and versatility
Polyamide is a family of synthetic fibres, the best known of which is nylon. It is made from petroleum-derived polymers and is characterized by its strength, lightness and ability to dry quickly. Polyamide is often used in sportswear, underwear and swimwear due to its abrasion resistance and elasticity. However, like other synthetic fibres, its production can have a negative environmental impact and it contributes to microplastic pollution.
Viscose: softness and fluidity
Viscose, sometimes likened to rayon, is a man-made fiber made from cellulose, usually extracted from wood. It is appreciated for its softness, its fluidity and its ability to drape elegantly. Viscose is often used in the manufacture of light and airy garments, such as summer dresses, blouses and scarves. But to ensure that your viscose is produced responsibly, look for certifications such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), which guarantee sustainable management of forests and water resources.
Leather and its vegetable alternatives: tradition and evolution
Leather is a material of animal origin, obtained from the skin of various animals. So, you will understand, the production of leather can have an environmental impact and raise ethical concerns in animal welfare. Fortunately, many vegetable and synthetic alternatives to leather are available. Sustainable options include vegetable leather made from materials such as pineapple (Piñatex) or mushrooms (MuSkin). These alternatives offer a similar aesthetic to leather while being more environmentally and animal friendly.
The impact of our clothing choices on the world
By learning to decipher composition labels, you will not only be able to extend the life of your clothes, but also contribute to a more sustainable and ethical world. By choosing quality materials, favoring environmental certifications and respecting maintenance instructions, you will reduce your ecological footprint and support brands committed to a better future.
The power of information!
Knowing how to read clothing composition labels is an essential skill for making informed fashion choices. The information contained on these labels will allow you to select clothes adapted to your needs, your values and your lifestyle. So the next time you go shopping, take the time to consult these precious labels and decode them. Your wardrobe and the planet will thank you!