As green fashion becomes the hottest trend so does the legitimacy of green marketing claims. The New York Times came out with an article titled "A World Consumed by Guilt" discussing the various nuances in the green fashion industry and complexities involved in "sustainable products". While it is easy to criticize that green products are too expensive, I can speak from experience that manufacturing using sustainable products is a completely uphill battle and anyone who is embracing it in whatever capacity is taking an important challenging first step.
There are so many variables ranging from the transportation costs of a product to where it was manufactured and under what conditions, that it is almost a no win situation in trying to claim green. However, whether it is products made from organic cotton or recycled materials, the transparency of where and how the product was created is important information that most companies should be open in providing. Patagonia which has been leading the sustainability movement in clothing does an awesome job of this through its Footprint Chronicles. If it is simply a generic label of "eco-friendly" be wary and inquisitive.
As The Federal Trade Commission strives to revise its green marketing claims in 2008, it is up to consumers to begin asking smart questions about the products they purchase and using your money in ways that support your values. If you care about the type of material - ask about it. If you care about fair trade and manufacturing - ask. Chances are that the salesperson will not know, but if enough people ask, then that will ultimately be communicated to the powers that be and if nothing else, at least you are shopping with a conscience and doing what you can do, which is the best starting point to create change. And try to support those smaller vendors that are embracing innovation to bring us products with a purpose and a conscience, even if it costs a bit more:-)