Navigating the world of sustainable fashion certifications can be tricky and it can seem that there’s an infinite number of logos, regulations, and organisations to look out for. If it sends your head into a spin, don’t worry, you’re in the right place. At Tripulse, we’re passionate about making sustainable fashion simple and transparent.
In this post we’ll introduce you to 7 sustainable fashion certifications you need to know:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
- The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Climate Neutral Certified
- Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX
- Sustainable Textile & Leather Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX
But before we dive into the details, let’s establish why you should be looking out for them in the first place…
What is sustainable fashion and why is it important?
Sustainable fashion is an approach to manufacturing, selling, and consuming clothes that considers their social and environmental impact. The term encompasses working conditions, waste, packaging, carbon emissions, water usage, fabric choice…and the list goes on!
So, why is it important?
Due to the resources and energy required to make and deliver clothes, the fashion industry contributes to 10% of all global greenhouse emissions and uses enough water to quench the thirst of 110 million people for an entire year. In terms of ethics, fashion is notorious for mistreating labourers, with new lines dropping faster than underpaid workers can keep up. And did you know that the toxic chemicals in many fabrics can make their way into your bloodstream, causing health problems?
Sustainable fashion is important as it’s a way to create a brighter future for the industry.
Watch out though! With companies latching onto the rise in conscious consumerism, greenwashing is rife and brand transparency can leave a lot to be desired. This is where certifications come in. Awarded by external parties, after extensive criteria, they’re a useful indicator of whether a not a brand is truly sustainable.
Sustainable fashion certifications
There are many ethical fashion certifications out there, each with its own regulations and standards to pass. To save you scouring through them all (if that’s even possible!), we’ve gathered 7 top ones to watch out for, categorized by focus on social, environmental and health impact.
If you’ve only heard of one from this list, it’s likely to be this one. The Fairtrade certification protects the rights of farmers and workers in developing countries around the world. Important to remember - it applies to products sourced from developing countries only as they often lack the necessary protection and policies that exist in developed countries. For products sourced from Europe, Fairtrade doesn’t apply.
That said, many companies with a traceable supply chain don’t use this certification, as they know their factories treat workers fairly and are based in the EU. For example, all our supplies are based in Europe and comply to strict social and environmental standards.
2. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
GOTS can only be awarded to textiles made from a minimum of 70% organic fibres. As well as environmental regulations, it sets a strict social standard based on the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) guiding principles.
Our production partner in Portugal is GOTS certified.
BLUESIGN is an independent organisation that helps manufacturers find more sustainable and safer alternatives at every stage of production. If a product is BLUESIGN certified, it means all negative environmental and social impacts were kept to a minimum.
4. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
This one applies to fabrics made from wood fibres. The FSC is a global NGO that advocates for sustainable and responsible management of the world’s forests. If a material or product is FSC certified, it confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
The wood used in Tencel, the fabric we use in our activewear, is certified according to this sustainability criteria.
5. Climate Neutral Certified
Just as it sounds, Climate Neutral Certified means a company is proven to neutralise their carbon emissions through measuring, offsetting and reducing carbon emissions and has reached net zero carbon emissions in all its operations.
At Tripulse, we set out to have low C02 emissions from the very start and we’re proud to say we became Climate Neutral Certified in 2021 and invested in a number of sustainability projects. As we are going the extra mile and compensate even more than we “take”, we are even Carbon Negative.
6. Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX
Despite its sci-fi sounding name, STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX is actually one of the best-known labels for textiles. It confirms that it has been thoroughly tested for harmful substances and you can be confident it’s safe for human use. It has four four different classes ranging from skin- to no-skin contact textiles.
7. Sustainable Textile & Leather Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX
Also by OEKO-TEX, is STeP. The STeP certification takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability and analyses a company using 6 modules, including chemical management and safety.
Our suppliers and production partners in Portugal and Germany are STeP certified, and so adhere to OEKO-TEX’s specific social, environmental, and health standards.
The problem with certifications
It’s important to note that, whilst good, certifications aren’t perfect. Here are two key reasons why:
- They don’t cover everything - being certified in one thing doesn’t mean every aspect of a brand is sustainable. Equally, there might be some sustainable initiatives a brand implements that aren’t covered in a certification.
- They can cost a lot – ethical brands are often small and self-funded and so, especially when starting out, they simply can’t afford certifications. Since we want to encourage a shift at the industry level, it would be a shame to disregard the good work brands are doing because they haven’t got the labels yet.
It’s important to seek true transparency by looking for clear information on a brand's website and asking them questions on emails or social media.
At Tripulse, we’re proud of the sustainable fashion certifications we’ve already achieved, but we know that’s only a small part of the full picture. Sustainability is at the heart of every decision we make, whether it’s covered by a certificate or not, and we promise to continue to work towards a more sustainable fashion industry.
Shop our sustainable activewear and be part of the change.
- GOTS: https://global-standard.org/
- BLUESIGN: https://www.bluesign.com/en
- Climate Neutral: https://www.climateneutral.org/