Certifications that Every Sustainable Fashion Brand Should Know

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
March 11th, 2022
3:07 PM

Certifications are very useful tools that help brands communicate and transmit to their customers their actions and practices in terms of sustainability.

When we talk about sustainability we talk from a perspective of the entire life cycle of the product, from how it is grown, extracted and transformed raw materials, transport and distribution to stores or establishments for marketing, the use given by the customer and its subsequent recycling or use. With the passage of time, consumers have acquired a notorious education in sustainability and demand that the products purchased have guarantees of environmental, social and ethical responsibility. This guarantee, which determines that clothing is sustainable, is granted through certifications regulated by various standards. Focusing on the consumption and guarantee of products from the textile industry, it should be noted that the weight of fashion in the Spanish GDP is 2.7%, higher than that of other traditional sectors, and contributes to 4.2% of active jobs in the labor market. For this reason, there are currently numerous certifications that accredit and provide security to the consumer about the origin of the material, the social responsibility of companies or energy efficiency among many others. Here is a list of textile labels that can help you make a more sustainable and responsible choice.   Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) GOTS is one of the most trusted ethical certification standards out there, known for its worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers. The organization was founded by four prominent organizations: Organic Trade Association (OTA, USA), Internationaler Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft (IVN, Germany), The Soil Association (UK), and Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA, Japan). GOTS defines world-wide recognized requirements that ensure the organic standard of textiles, unifying these standards across countries and stages of production. It verifies the organic status of 70% of textiles, in cotton, hemp, wool, and linen. If you buy from a brand that is certified organic, you can trust that the garments are made with cotton that is ethical and sustainable.   Bluesign Bluesign is based on five principles (resource productivity, consumer safety, air emissions, water emissions and occupational health and safety). The Bluesign standard has a holistic approach that takes into account the above five pillars, it enters into the certification of products and product ranges. It does not certify companies.   Cradle 2 Cradle Cradle to Cradle is a multi-attribute quality standard that evaluates the safety of a product in relation to human and environmental health. It assesses the design of a product as well as the practices employed in the manufacture of a product. It also includes an evaluation for the reuse of materials through recycling or composting. The materials and manufacturing practices of each product are evaluated in five categories: Materials Health, Materials Reuse, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, Water Management and Social Equity. The main objective is to eliminate the concept of waste and encourage the development of products for closed-loop systems. That is, to contemplate the life cycle from manufacturing to disposal.   EU Ecolabel EU Ecolabel encourages companies to market products and services that are more environmentally friendly. It is based on the evaluation of the impact of the product or service on the environment throughout its life cycle. It includes the extraction of raw materials, production, distribution and final disposal. It is a voluntary certification, whose goal is to address the main environmental impacts in the textile industry and promote the reduction of water pollution related to key processes along the textile chain, reducing the use of dyes and toxic agents and promoting adequate wastewater treatment.   B Corporation Brands that are certified B Corporation meet the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility as well as public transparency. Used as a model for transparent, public business practices, the standard reinforces corporate accountability. To receive this certification, businesses have to achieve a verified score on the B Impact Assessment, which evaluates the brands’ impact on their workers, customers, community, and environment. B Corporation’s ranking system allows for brands to improve their ethical standards, however, it’s worth mentioning that carrying this certification alone doesn’t mean that a clothing brand is “sustainable”.   OEKO-TEX 100 Standard OEKO TEX 100 is a certification held in the highest regard throughout the fashion and apparel industry. This standard is awarded to clothing brands that don’t use textiles that contain toxic chemicals, especially important for those of you looking for children’s casual or sleepwear. OEKO-TEX employs a four-tier system based on verifying legal chemicals, searching for illegal chemicals, chemicals that are considered generally safe, and safe chemicals. This standard also ensures safety for its workers, and customers who search for this certification can feel assured the clothes are safe for the people who wear them and also for those who made them.   Better Cotton Initiative The Better Cotton Initiatve is a non-profit organization and is the world’s largest program for sustainable cotton. Specifically, the group works to provide the best possible working conditions for those who produce it, in addition to improving the economic development of where the cotton grows. Through the Better Cotton Initiative, farmers receive training on sustainable farming practices, and the group also ensures the credibility of sustainable cotton.   Fair Trade Fair Trade most often applies to food products, but it also applies to clothing. It means that employees throughout the supply chain have been paid fairly for their work and products. One of the main pillars of sustainability is that people are put first and foremost, especially those in less-developed parts of the world. Companies that are certified Fair Trade are required to pay sustainable prices, and the organization helps to develop the farmers’ communities to support the local area overall. Some Fair Trade certified brands you may know are Patagonia and prAna.   PETA-Approved Vegan Recognized all over the world, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), is committed to ensuring the well-being of animals. Brands that are approved by PETA promise that they use zero animal products in their collections, with strict monitoring and compliance with these restrictions. It’s worth mentioning that participants carry out their own monitoring, and there are no third-party audits ensuring that brands are being 100% truthful. Look out for other types of certification to make a well-informed decision on your purchase.   Global Recycle Standard (GRS) The Global Recycle Standard is a certification that certifies that production processes throughout the supply chain have been subjected to appropriate measures to ensure the integrity of the final product. Its objective is to ensure the recycled content in a product. The Global Recycled Standard is based on tracking and tracing by way of monitoring and control throughout the value chain of the products finally certified.