The footwear sector is a diverse industry covering a wide variety of materials and products from different types of men's, women's, and children's footwear, to more specialised products like snowboard boots and protective footwear.
The European Union has directed EU countries to align laws relating to the labelling of materials in footwear, protecting consumer interests, and reducing the risk of fraud for consumers and industry. EU legislation on chemicals and personal protective equipment may also affect footwear.
Directive on labelling of materials used in footwear
In 1994, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union issued an important directive for the internal market for footwear. This Directive introduced a common labelling system for the main components of footwear sold in the EU.
It harmonised the diverse laws and regulations that had previously existed in EU countries relating to the labelling of materials. These diverse laws and regulations were creating barriers to trade.
Directive 94/11/EC specifies that labelling must give consumers information on the composition of the three main parts of footwear:
the lining and sock;
the outer sole.
The composition can be given using pictograms or written indications for specific materials:
Only materials covering at least 80% of the surface area or 80% of the volume of the outer sole need to be labelled. If no single material accounts for at least 80%, information should be given on the two main materials used.
This legislation protects consumer interests by reducing the risk of fraud for both consumers and industry.
A European Ecolabel was established for footwear in 1999. It applies to all categories of footwear, including sports, occupational, children's, men's, and women's; and specialist footwear for cold, casual use, fashion, and indoors.