Resuming the ‘Understanding Textile Standards’ series, today we’ll have a look at the eco-fair fashion’s most prominent and important standard: GOTS 4.0 and some of their certified brands.
It seems almost as though more people are interested in trying to build a more sustainable, green, and ethical wardrobe these days. Good!
And where the brands’ statements may lack trustworthiness, the textile standards provide much more clarity. And so you know who’s who, we’re discussing the most important standards with examples in this new series called Understanding Textile Standards. <– You’re welcome to go back to the start page of the series to see what labels have been covered so far.
Textile standards fall into two categories: independent and manufacturer owned. GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard – is the most renowned and important independent standard. The GOTS Working Group consists of four member organisations, in alphabetical order:
IVN (Germany), JOCA (Japan), OTA (USA), Soil Association (UK).
Certification with GOTS (version 4.0 has become effective in March 2015) is possible under two grades of labelling: grade 1 ‘organic’ and grade 2 ‘made with X% organic’, which is similar to the food inustry regulations of organics.
Grade 1 ‚organic‘: ≥ 95% certified organic fibres, ≤ 5 % non-organic natural or synthetic fibres
Grade 2 ‚made with X% organic‘: ≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non-organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (respectively 25% for sportswear and hosiery), as long as the raw materials used are not from certified organic origin, a sustainable forestry management program or recycled.
What’s in it for a brand?
+ Trustworthiness with consumers: GOTS is considered the strictest standard – they operate with compulsory criteria only;
+ GOTS is accepted globally in all major markets;
+ requirements are recognised world-wise and span the complete value chain from raw material harvesting to processing, manufacturing, packaging, trading and distributing in a socially responsible and environmentally safe way.
What can be certified?
Finished products such as garments and accessories, fabrics, fibres and yarns, home textiles and personal care products and basically any product made from at least 70% certified organic and natural fibres. So, from a mattress to a cotton pad.
Caution: the devil’s in the detail – a brand that sells non-GOTS-labelled garments but claims to use GOTS fabrics is not automatically GOTS-certified!”
Organic certifiable fabrics are: cotton, silk, flax (linen), and wool.
Since GOTS 4.0 the prohibited fabrics incllude virgin polyester, conventional cotton and angora wool.
Leather (and leather-made products) can’t be GOTS certified.
When you buy a GOTS-certified product, you have the assurance that:
+ All fibres were produced/ processed without contact to conventional fibre
+ All chemical processing is regulated to ensure non-toxicity and biodegradability
+ While GOTS has no standards for organic farming and animal husbandry, it demands that at least 70% of the fibers used must be of organically-certified materials which in turn means – organic livestock farming standards
+ Toxins and allergens are prohibited: pesticides, heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes, chlorine bleaching, azo dyes that release carcinogenic amine compounds, printing using aromatic solvents and plastisol printing methods using phthalates and PVC; PVC, nickel and chrome for accessories; PVC for packaging materials
+ Paper/ cardboard must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC
+ The production and processing need to meet environmental policies so that workers are not exposed to toxins
+ Minimum social criteria (based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation ILO) must be met at any stage including a ban on child and forced labour
+ A dual system of on-site audits and residue testing ensures that the end product meets all given criteria
Congratulations if you’ve made it to here 🙂
Now, where do you find GOTS-certified fashion brands or, if you’re the crafty-creative type, GOTS-certified fabric?
First, the GOTS database has a decent search function to check your favourite brands.
Tip: always choose one country, otherwise you’ll be looking at a loooooong list 😉
If talking about my personal GOTS-faves:
1. Fabric/ yarn: if you’re based in Berlin, Siebenblau is THE address.
My latest purchase: 50€ worth of a GOTS-certified blue denim dyed jersey for a DIY summer dress
2. Grüne Erde offers GOTS-certified (grade 1 and grade 2) fashion that’s wearable and nice, as well as home textiles that range from cosy landhouse to classic
My latest purchase: bed linen
3. Lana carries quite classic – no hippie appeal – women’s and kids’ fashion
My latest purchase: none yet
4. gotsutsumu business clothes made in Europe from GOTS-certified fine wool
My latest purchase: none yet, wishlist only 🙂
4. A fave of mine when it comes to fancy printed tees, as below: Armedangels
My latest purchase: 2 printed t-shirts (wolf, peacock feather)