Navigating the lexicon of ethical and sustainable fashion can be confusing at times. Especially when trying to decipher which brands are ‘doing good’ by people and planet.
Consumers may have different priorities and standards when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion, whether it be fair pay, animal welfare, organic or recycled materials.
There are a number of certifications you can look for to help you decide whether a brand aligns with your values.
I have compiled a list below, of just some of the certifications I have encountered, identifying what they do, how they may align with your values, and which brands to look out for.
What: Certified B Corporations are a community of 2788 companies, covering 150 industries in 64 countries with 1 unifying goal of using business as a force for good, taking into account the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. B Corp certified business meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
If you value knowing where your clothing comes from, the fair treatment of the industry’s workers and the wider community, and the environment look out for Certified B Corporations.
What: The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is an improvement guide for designers and manufacturers, examining products through five quality categories; material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Based on these categories, a product receives either a Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum achievement level.
If you value a circular fashion system, where water- and energy-efficient raw materials are utilised to create long-lasting products that are able to be reprocessed into new products, or returned harmlessly to the earth, look out for Cradle to Cradle certification.
What: The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is working towards a more sustainable system of global cotton production. The BCI aims to reduce the environmental impact of cotton, and improve the livelihoods and economy of cotton producing areas.
If you value sustainability at all, whether it be from an environmental, social and economic perspective, look out for the Better Cotton Initiative.
What: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a leading global standard for organic fibres, covering the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres.
If you value traceability, environmentally friendly farming practices involving no GMOs, artificial fertilisers, or agro-chemicals, animal welfare, and safe working conditions, look out for the GOTS.
What: The Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX is a global testing and certification system that identifies and eliminates potentially harmful substances, such as carcinogens, heavy metals, formaldehyde and allergy–inducing dyestuffs. Testing and assessment applies across the production process, being conducted on raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used.
If you value textiles that are produced in a way that is safe for the people and in environmentally friendly conditions, then look out for Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX.
What: Bluesign certification standard represents a solution for sustainable textile production. The system traces every textile’s path along the manufacturing process, from consumer safety, water and air emissions and occupational health, with a particular focus on the reduction of harmful substance usage, making improvements at every stage.
If you value textiles that are produced in a way that is safe for the people and in environmentally friendly conditions, then look out for Bluesign.