Eco-fashion Explained – the facts behind the labels

When it comes to today’s kids’ fashion, trends and best-selling brands play a vital role when selecting the latest pieces for a seasonal wardrobe upgrade. However, another crucial factor that’s been growing in importance over the past years is how and from what the clothes and accessories you fill your child’s closet with, have been made.

Eco-friendly manufacture, along with organic materials, are becoming of utmost importance for a growing number of parents. But what exactly do all these acronyms and logos stand for, and how do you know which is which?

We have compiled a short reference guide to help you understand what hides behind the seals and make more informed decisions when selecting pieces for your little ones.

  1. EU Organic Logo

EU Organic Logo
EU Organic Logo

This particular product logo ensures that its respective product has been grown using sustainable production. The logo is mainly used to help consumers identify organic products more easily. However, since it mostly regulates the criteria for origin and production, the EU organic logo does not cover the ecological and social aspects.

  1. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Logo
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Logo

GOTS is regarded as the number-one standard for textile processing of organic fibres. In addition to processing and production, it also includes ecological and social criteria. So, what do you need to know about GOTS, other that it stands for something organic?

First of all, this universal standard covers everything from processing and manufacturing to packaging and labelling, and finally to trading and distribution of all textiles that are made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers, including but not limited to yarns, fabrics, fibre products, clothes and home textiles.

When it comes to production and manufacturing criteria, only the product that contains at least 95% of certified organic fibers can be labelled “organic” according to GOTS, as opposed to its second label grade, “made with organic” which is applied to products made of at least 70% certified organic fibers.

In regards to the environmental criteria, the number of restriction is even higher. No PVC, no chrome or nickel, no toxic heavy metals or GMOs, no chlorine bleaching or aromatic solvents – the list goes on…

Last but not least, the social criteria which are based on the set norms of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) must be met and abided by all processors and manufactures. This means that the working conditions have to be safe and hygienic, that the employment is chosen freely, that there are no excessive working hours, and especially, no child labour.

In summary, only those products that are produced in full compliance of set criteria can carry the GOTS labels, of which there are two, as quoted per the official GOTS website:

  1. Label-grade 1: organic – at least 95% of certified organic fibers, less than 5% of non-organic natural or synthetic fibers
  2. Label-grade 2: made with X% organic – at least 70% of certified organic fibers, less than 30% of non-organic fibers with a maximum of 10% synthetic fibers (25% for socks, leggings and sportswear), as long as the raw the raw materials used are not from certified organic origin, a sustainable forestry management program or recycled.
  1. OEKO-TEX® Standard100

OEKO-TEX® Standard100
OEKO-TEX® Standard100

It may sound like a mouthful, but this standard is in fact one of the more important ones, as it covers all stages of production, from textile raw materials to intermediate and end products. These include raw and dyed yarns, finished fabrics and knits, as well as ready-made articles, such as clothing, household textiles, bed linen, etc.

In order to meet all requirements, each type of products is tested for harmful substances – illegal substances, legally regulated substances, known harmful chemicals – according to the actual use and purpose of each respective textile. Below you will find a more detailed description of the resultant four product classes, each with its particular set of requirements. These are listed in the order of skin contact proximity, quoted directly from the official website:

Product class I: Textile items for babies and toddlers up to 3 years (clothing, toys, bed linen, terry cloth items, etc

Product class II: Textiles used close to the skin (underwear, bed linen, t-shirts, etc)

Product class III: Textiles used away from the skin (jackets, coats, etc)

Product class IV: Furnishing materials (curtains, table cloths, upholstery materials, etc)

In order for each type of product to receive the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, all product components must meet the required criteria without exception, from sewing threads and lining to outer material.

  1. Fairtrade Certified Cotton

Fairtrade Certified Cotton Logo
Fairtrade Certified Cotton Logo

According to the official Fairtrade website, Fairtrade is about “about better prices, decent working conditions, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.” So what does it actually mean? By now the Fairtrade icon is definitely recognizable and well known throughout the world. However, few can explain from the top of their head what exactly this logo stands for. Most importantly, it indicates that the product’s components (cotton, for example) have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade economic, social, and environmental standards. As a result, Fairtrade stands for protection of the workers’ rights (no discrimination, decent working conditions, no bonding or illegal child labor) as well of the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price (which covers the cost of sustainable production in particular region) and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.

As you can imagine, the detailed criteria for each of these logos is rather lengthy and complex, so for those of you interested to learn even more, we encourage you to visit the official websites of each respective standards. As for the rest, we hope that this article helped you understand a little more about the world of eco-conscious production and organic manufacture.