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20 Sustainable Fashion Certifications to Look For

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As consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of their choices on the planet, the demand for sustainable fashion is on the rise. But how can you be sure that the clothes you’re buying are truly eco-friendly? 

That’s where sustainable fashion certifications come into play. These certifications serve as a beacon of assurance, guiding conscientious shoppers towards brands prioritising style and sustainability. 

Join us as we delve into ethical and sustainable fashion certifications and uncover the key players in fashion sustainability.


Why Do Sustainable Fashion Certifications Matter?

In the bustling world of fashion, where trends come and go, the concept of sustainability is gaining traction like never before. But why exactly do sustainable fashion certifications matter in this ever-evolving landscape? Let’s break it down:

Ensure Ethical Practices

Ethical fashion certifications guarantee that workers in the production process are treated fairly and ethically. From fair wages to safe working conditions, these certifications assure that human rights are upheld throughout the supply chain.

Reduce Environmental Impact

A sustainable fashion certification focuses on minimising the environmental impact of clothing production. By promoting practices such as organic farming, water conservation, and waste reduction, these certifications contribute to a healthier planet.

Transparency and Accountability

Certifications create transparency by requiring brands to disclose information about their production processes. Consumers can make informed choices by supporting brands with verified sustainability credentials, encouraging accountability within the industry.

Drives Innovation

Sustainability certifications inspire brands to innovate and adopt eco-friendly practices. From experimenting with alternative materials to implementing renewable resource solutions, certified brands drive positive change.


What Are the Major Sustainable Fashion Certifications?

Holistic Sustainable Fashion Certifications

Cascale (formerly Sustainable Apparel Coalition)

Cascale

Cascale is a global alliance of brands, retailers, manufacturers, and NGOs committed to improving the environmental and social performance of the apparel and footwear industry. It developed the Higg Index, a tool suite that measures and scores a company or product’s sustainability performance.

This comprehensive approach considers environmental aspects such as water and energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, chemical management, and social aspects like labour conditions and worker well-being. 

By participating in Cascale’s initiatives and obtaining Higg Index scores, fashion brands can identify areas for improvement and work towards sustainability, ultimately transforming the industry into a sustainable mainstream commodity.

Cradle to Cradle Certified™

Sustainable Fashion Certifications - Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle Certified™ represents a paradigm shift in sustainable fashion, emphasising circular economy principles, and environmental stewardship. This certification evaluates products based on their health, material reutilisation, water stewardship, and social fairness. 

By encouraging the use of recycled materials and renewable energy sources, Cradle to Cradle Certified™ fosters innovation and sustainability within the clothing industry. 

Environmental Fashion Certifications

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

Better Cotton Initiative

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) spearheads efforts to transform the global cotton industry by promoting more sustainable practices from farm to fashion. BCI provides training and support by working closely with farmers to help them adopt more environmentally friendly and socially responsible farming methods, including reducing water usage and pesticide application. 

Through its rigorous standards and verification processes, BCI-certified cotton ensures transparency and traceability in the supply chain, fostering a more sustainable future for cotton production.

Bluesign®

Bluesign

As a pioneer in sustainable production practices, Bluesign® is the textile industry’s leading alliance, focusing on ecological and social criteria throughout the production chain. With its global supply chain approach, Bluesign® certification ensures that materials are responsibly sourced and that production processes minimise unnecessary environmental harm. 

By partnering with fashion designers, brands, and suppliers, Bluesign® develops social and sustainable solutions. Through strict criteria and comprehensive auditing, Bluesign® empowers the fashion industry to adopt sustainable practices.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting a responsibly managed forest worldwide. Through its certification system, FSC ensures that wood and paper products come from forests that meet rigorous environmental, social, and economic standards. 

FSC certification involves thorough audits and assessments of forest management practices and compliance with FSC’s principles and criteria. This certification is crucial for the clothing industry, which often relies on wood-derived materials such as viscose and cellulose fibres, ensuring that environmental aspects are considered throughout the production process.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Global_Organic_Textile_Standard

GOTS is a beacon in sustainable fashion certification, addressing ecological and social criteria throughout the entire textile supply chain. It aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that materials like cotton are sourced ethically and sustainably. 

This independent certification sets criteria for using harmful chemicals, emphasising renewable energy and responsible water usage in production processes. GOTS-certified products support smallholder farmers in developing countries, fostering a global community committed to environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.

Global Recycled Standard (GRS)

Global-Recycled-Standard

The Global Recycled Standard is an international verification model that certifies products made with recycled materials. Developed by Textile Exchange, GRS evaluates the entire production chain, ensuring that recycled content is traceable and verified and that environmental and social criteria are met during processing and manufacturing. 

This certification is particularly relevant to the fashion industry, where using recycled materials can significantly reduce the environmental impact of clothing production. By obtaining GRS certification, fashion brands demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, circular economy principles, and reducing reliance on virgin resources.

OEKO-TEX Standard 100

OEKO-TEX

The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification is a trusted symbol of safety and sustainability in the textile industry. With its mission to eliminate harmful substances, this certification ensures that textiles are free from chemicals that could pose risks to human health and the environment. 

Through rigorous testing and verification processes, OEKO-TEX-certified products guarantee they meet stringent environmental standards, promoting sustainable fashion practices. By addressing the harmful impact of chemicals and promoting responsible production practices, OEKO-TEX plays a vital role in creating sustainable clothing and beyond.

Textile Exchange (formerly Organic Exchange)

Textile-Exchange

Textile Exchange specifically focuses on organic cotton production. Textile Exchange aims to manage global cotton production responsibly while supporting smallholder farmers and mitigating environmental impact through initiatives such as the Cotton Initiative and partnerships with organisations like Cotton Made in Africa (by the Aid by Trade Foundation). 

Textile Exchange contributes to the fashion industry’s transition towards more sustainable materials by advocating for sustainable farming practices and facilitating the adoption of organic cotton.

Social and Ethical Fashion Certifications

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

ETI

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a global non-governmental organisation focusing on social accountability and responsible business. ETI ensures that workers are treated fairly and work under safe conditions. 

By collaborating with trade unions, brands, and suppliers, ETI develops businesses by prioritising fair wages, decent working hours, and freedom of association. Through its advocacy and support, ETI strives to eradicate harsh or inhumane treatment in the textile industry, fostering a culture of societal responsibility and ethical clothing production worldwide.

Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA)

Ethical Clothing Australia

Ethical Clothing Australia is an accreditation body that promotes ethical manufacturing practices in the Australian fashion industry. Its mission is to ensure that local garment workers receive fair salaries and work under safe conditions. 

ECA certification involves rigorous audits of clothing factories and supply chains to verify compliance with Australian workplace laws and ethical standards. By partnering with ECA-certified manufacturers, fashion brands support ethical manufacturing and contribute to the welfare of workers in the Australian garment industry.

Fair Wear Foundation

Fair Wear

The Fair Wear Foundation is a non-profit organisation committed to improving labour conditions in garment production facilities worldwide. With its mission to fully practice fair trade, the Fair Wear Foundation conducts audits. It supports its member brands, ensuring compliance with stringent criteria. 

Fair Wear Foundation addresses child labour, forced labour, and discrimination by working closely with suppliers and manufacturers and promoting responsible accredited production practices.

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certified is a globally recognised certification that ensures producers and workers in developing countries receive fair compensation and work under safe conditions. By promoting fair trade cotton and other raw materials, Fair Trade Certified supports farmers and sustainability in the textile industry. 

With its emphasis on social responsibility and ethical trading initiatives, Fair Trade Certified products contribute to the well-being of workers and communities. By choosing Fair Trade Certified products, consumers can support a sustainable fashion ecosystem that values social accountability.

Social Accountability International (SAI) SA8000

SAI

SA8000 is a leading certification standard that promotes human rights, fair labour practices, and safe working conditions worldwide. By establishing strict criteria for labour standards, including health and safety, freedom of association, and non-discrimination, SA8000 certification ensures that workers are treated ethically and work under fair conditions. 

SA8000 empowers organisations to prioritise responsible and ethical clothing production through its comprehensive auditing process and continuous improvement approach.

Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

WRAP

WRAP is a globally recognised certification program that promotes ethical and responsible production practices in the textile industry. 

With its emphasis on labour standards, health and safety, environmental practices, and legal compliance, WRAP certification ensures that manufacturing facilities uphold strict ethical and sustainable production criteria. 

WRAP helps companies develop business solutions prioritising worker welfare and environmental stewardship by conducting audits and guiding member brands.

World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

World Fair Trade Organization

As a global non-governmental organisation, WFTO promotes fair trade principles in international business and supply chains, including the fashion industry. As the only international verification model focused on social enterprises, its mission is to ensure that producers, artisans, and workers receive fair salaries, operate under safe conditions, and have sustainable livelihoods. 

By obtaining WFTO certification, a fashion brand demonstrates its commitment to ethical practices, fair treatment of workers, and sustainable development. 

This international verification model fosters transparent and equitable business practices within global supply chains, making it a trusted symbol for consumers seeking ethically-produced fashion.

Animal Welfare Certifications

Fur Free Retailer

Fur Free Retailer

The Fur Free Retailer certification symbolises a commitment to animal welfare within the clothing industry. The Fur Free Retailer certification contributes to the movement toward a more responsible and cruelty-free fashion by promoting fur-free alternatives and encouraging consumers to make compassionate choices.

By pledging not to use fur in their products, brands and retailers demonstrate their dedication to ethical fashion practices. 

This certification aligns with the values of organisations like PETA, which advocate for the humane treatment of animals. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

PETA

PETA is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to advocating for the ethical treatment of animals in all industries, including fashion and food industry. 

Through its campaigns and initiatives, PETA raises awareness about animal cruelty in fashion and promotes alternatives to animal-derived raw materials. The organisation’s cruelty-free certification, represented by the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo, helps consumers identify products that do not contain animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. 

By partnering with brands and retailers, PETA encourages adopting ethical and sustainable practices prioritising animal welfare, and promoting a compassionate clothing industry.

Responsible Down Standard (RDS)

RDS

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification ensures the ethical treatment of ducks and geese in the down and feather industry. Developed by Textile Exchange, the RDS prohibits practices such as force-feeding and live-plucking and requires traceability throughout the supply chain. 

By certifying products with the RDS logo, brands and manufacturers demonstrate their commitment to sourcing down and feathers from suppliers. 

The RDS certification promotes transparency and accountability in the down industry, helping consumers make informed choices about the products they purchase.

Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)

RWS

The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certification ensures the ethical treatment of sheep in the wool industry. Developed by Textile Exchange, the RWS prohibits mulesing and requires adherence to strict criteria for animal welfare and land management. 

By certifying products with the RWS logo, brands and manufacturers demonstrate their commitment to sourcing wool from farms prioritising sheep’s welfare and the environment. 

The RWS certification promotes transparency and accountability in the wool industry, fostering a more humane and sustainable approach to wool production.


Final Note

As we move towards a greener future, embracing fashion sustainability and supporting brands with reputable sustainable fashion certifications is key. 

So, the next time you’re shopping for a new wardrobe addition, remember to look for those trusted symbols of ethical fashion certifications – because style should never come at the expense of our planet.

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Ellora Sharma

Ellora Sharma is a 26-year-old fashionmonger from Leeds. She discovered her love for fashion through the many intricate and flashy designs found in the Bollywood films she religiously watched when she was younger (and continues to watch to this day). She has since developed an affinity for colourful and distinctive clothing, and loves to experiment with her style on the daily. She wants to help others find the same kind of joy and fun in clothing as she has.

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