There are so many different types of world recognised accreditation bodies for different types of manufacturers and products. It can be tricky to find and decide on the right ones to suit your business. The next thing to consider is the cost benefits of complying with the criteria to show the world you stand for the same values and that you also have the stamp of approval from these accreditation bodies.

Most Designers, Buyers and Consumers recognise the importance of ethical and sustainable values within the apparel industry and look to bring this into the forefront as a benchmark of a conscious and responsible collection. Quality, eco-friendly fibres are now seen as an investment by consumers, with 42% of millennials saying they want to know what goes into products and how they are made before they buy.

Below is a breakdown of some of the major sustainable and ethical stamps of proof that as a factory you prioritize those values. Below is a description and a breakdown of each of them.

Applicable to Fibre Producers and Textile Manufacturers

Woolmark

This is applicable to fabric manufacturers and fibre producers. The Woolmark Licensing Program is a quality assurance and product certification program for textiles. This provides a stamp of proof and approval that the textile/ garment is of the highest quality up to Woolmark standards. For more than 50 years, the Woolmark brand has adorned more than 5 billion products since the creation of the original mark in 1964. Products with the logo certify the quality of fibre content to both consumers and the supply chain.

Main categories: 

There are three main categories for Woolmark Certification

Pure new wool

Products created with 100% new wool.

Wool rich blend

Products created with between 50% and 99.9% new wool.

Wool blend performance

Products created with between 30% and 49.9% new wool.

Main criteria: 

To  ensure consumers are receiving quality wool products, Woolmark asks brands and textile makers to undergo rigorous testing. Yarns, fabrics and garments are independently tested in order to qualify for Woolmark certification. 

The five tests of Woolmark certification: Wool Content, Colourfastness to light, Durability, Wash testing and Colourfastness to liquid.

  1. Wool content – assess the wool’s purity, to verify the product is 100% what is claimed to be.
  2. Colourfastness to light – expose the wool to the harshest light – for up to 10 hours – to assure its colours are lasting.
  3. Durability – subject the wool to extreme pressures – push, pull and stretch it to its physical limits – to measure its strength. 
  4. Wash testing – wash the wool in hard, unforgiving machines to ensure no shrinkage and no loss of shape.
  5. Colourfastness to liquid – take the wool and test it, intensely, against the very liquids it would normally meet over its lifetime.

Learn more about the Woolmark  product specifications to see if this is right for you. If you would like to progress contact Woolmark to become a licensee

EcoNyl

This is applicable to fabric manufacturers and textile sourcing as Econyl is a trademarked product and sold by Aquafil a fibre manufacturing company. As well as being a solution on waste, ECONYL® regenerated nylon is also better when it comes to climate change. It reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 80% compared with the material from oil. For every 10,000 tons of ECONYL® raw material, it saves 70,000 barrels of crude oil and avoids 57,100 tonnes  of of CO2 eq. emissions. The consumer needs to be educated that the textile is of the highest quality as well as meets the standards of sustainable nylon production which is a huge selling point to the environmentally conscious consumer buying the garments.   

Find out more: about the trademark fibre, email the APPAREL department ntf@econyl.com

OEKO-TEX®

This is applicable to fabric manufacturers and fibre producers. Oeko-Tex is a registered trade mark, representing the product labels and company certifications issued and other services provided by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology.  The testing and certification process on which the standards are based guarantees maximum consumer safety.

Main categories: 

There are six main categories for OEKO-TEX® standards.

The Made in Green Label identifies textiles tested for harmful substances and which have been manufactured under sustainable and socially responsible conditions. 

All types of textiles that have been tested for harmful substances, from yarns to the finished product, may bear the Standard 100 product label. 

The product label Leather Standard is specifically tailored to leather articles which have been tested for harmful substances. Certification can be awarded for semi-finished products, finished leather, leather fibre materials up to finished articles and accessories.

STeP certifies production facilities that manufacture textile products and leather articles are under sustainable production conditions. 

The analysis tool for companies in textile and leather production, optimises and monitors chemicals management and wastewater quality in context of the Greenpeace DETOX campaign.

The ECO Passport identifies chemicals, colourants and auxiliaries used in the textile and leather industry which are not harmful to health and are environmentally friendly.

Main criteria: 

To become certified there are various criteria your manufacturing business will need to comply with the first part of the step is to fill in the Application Form. But essentially the process can be broken down into these four parts: 

Validity – If you have successfully undergone the certification process for STANDARD 100, you can label your products accordingly for 12 months.

Costs – License fees are charged for the certification. Depending on the amount of testing involved, this includes the laboratory costs and costs for visits to your factory. 

Extension – You can request an extension of your STANDARD 100 certificate at any time from your responsible institute for your company.

Continuity – As holder of a STANDARD 100 certificate, you agree to undergo regular audits by the OEKO-TEX independent testing institutes. The mandatory company visits take place in a 3-year cycle.

GOTS

This is applicable to fabric manufacturers and fibre producers. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. The final products may include, but are not limited to fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.

This certification requires the entire textile supply chain to be involved. Fibre producers must be certified according to a recognised international or national organic farming standards that is accepted in the country where the final product will be sold. All operators up to garment making and finishers have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid GOTS scope certificate to have the stamp of approval. 

Certifiers of textile supply chain operators may be accredited to the following scopes:

  1. Certification of mechanical textile processing and manufacturing operations and their products
  2. Certification of wet processing and finishing operations and their products
  3. Certification of trading operations and related products
  4. Release of positive lists of chemical inputs (s.a. dyes and auxiliary agents) to the chemical industry

Search for the relevant Certification Body Office and their contact details so  that they may provide information with regard to GOTS certification.

Entities that receive a GOTS scope certificate are free to advertise their certified status on the market. They further become listed in the public GOTS database on the website.