Federal Trade Commission Labeling Requirements for Clothing and Accessories

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") require and enforce labeling laws and acts in the United States. “In general, textile and apparel products sold in the United States must be labeled with the following information: the fiber content, the country of origin, the manufacturer or dealer identity, and the care instructions.” (ITA).

What needs a label?

Put simply: all apparel and accessories need labels per federal law. Apparel products that contain wool, leather, or fur have additional requirements, as do footwear products. These requirements are governed by the FTC, which is responsible for furthering consumer protection by ensuring that businesses provide information regarding the contents and origins of consumer goods. (FTC).

It should be noted that certain states have specific labeling requirements, including those that concern flammability and children’s products. California state law is notoriously very strict in terms of labeling requirements.

What do labeling requirements entail?

Federal labeling requirements for fur, textile and wool products require that garments and accessories have a label listing the fiber content, country of origin and identity of the manufacturer.

Additionally, the FTC's Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers to attach care instructions to garments.  “Labels for clothing must have a washing instruction or a dry-cleaning instruction. If the item can be washed and dry-cleaned, the label needs only one of these instructions. However, you may want to consider that consumers like having washing instructions for items that can be washed. If you prefer, you can give instructions for both washing and dry-cleaning.” (WeWear). Labels containing care instructions must be attached permanently to the item.

Is there a standard for sizing in the United States?

No. There is no standard for sizing.

What are the requirements for a product to be labeled as "Made in the USA"?

In order for a garment or accessory to be permitted to bear a "Made in the USA" label, apparel and textile products must originate in the United States or be only “one step removed” in the supply chain. For apparel, this means the fabric must be manufactured in the United States. For fabric, the underlying textiles, such as yarn, must be manufactured in the United States in order to list it as the country of origin. According to FTC standards, footwear has to be “all or virtually all” made in the United States to claim it as the country of origin. (WeWear).

Note: The "Made in the U.S.A." labeling standard as mandated by California state law (which holds that companies can only use the "Made in the U.S.A" label in California if “the product is 100 percent made in the U.S.") takes precedence over a national standard overseen by the FTC, which allows manufacturers to use the “Made in U.S.A.” label on clothing that is “all or virtually all” made domestically -- the latter is a much easier standard to meet. (TFL).

When do you need to label?

Labels containing fiber content, country of origin, identification of the manufacturer, importer, or other dealer, and care instructions must be present at the time the end user takes possession of the good. The labeling requirements do not apply until the products are ready for sale to consumers. As such, “items shipped or delivered in an intermediate stage of production and not labeled with the required information must include an invoice disclosing the fiber, country of origin, manufacturer or dealer identity, and the name and address of the person or company issuing the invoice.” (ITA).


“Failing to provide reliable care instructions and warnings for the useful life of an item is a violation of the FTC Act. Violators are subject to enforcement actions and penalties of up to $16,000 for each offense. In enforcement actions, the FTC contends that each mislabeled garment is a violation. Since 1990, the FTC has brought 16 enforcement actions; 15 were resolved by settlements and one was litigated. Penalties have ranged as high as $300,000.” (FTC).