A Quick Guide to Certificates and Eco-fabrics: What Do They Mean and Why Are They Important?

Certification in the fashion industry is informative in that it can give us some valuable insight into the production process behind the fabric our clothing is made of, where it was produced, and even tell us a bit about the people involved in the manufacturing process.

A few reasons certificates are important, are:

  • They guarantee what they claim, so if you’re expecting your clothing to be vegan and cruelty-free, the certification guarantees that it indeed is.
  • It ensures that the clothing meets the indicated criteria to a certain standard, and that it has passed quality and authentication tests.
  • It essentially shows that what you are buying is ethical, consciously made and mindful.

Some of the certificates you may come across include:

  • OEKOTEX – tests textiles for harmful substances and ensures there are none present.
  • GOTS – (Global Organic Textile Standard) ensures materials are truly organic.
  • PETA Vegan – ensures the material meets stringent standards of being cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Fairtrade – ensures everyone involved in the manufacturing process is treated fairly and paid a fair wage.
  • Ecovero – ensuring that the material has the lowest possible impact on the environment based on the use of wood sources, ecological production processes, and supply chain transparency.

Sustainable fabrics can also be confusing to a new buyer, with some unusual names and sometimes even more unusual compositions. Being used to the few common kinds of fabrics we come across in our daily lives which are mostly made of synthetic, plastic fibres, a fabric made out of pineapple seems extraordinary and may even beg the question: how is that possible? Indeed, these fabrics are revolutionary in a world all-consumed by plastic and toxic chemicals which find themselves in our clothing regularly.

A few of the fabrics we may encounter in the sustainable fashion scene are the following:

  • Organic cotton: grows in ‘live soil’ and needs to be cultivated without pesticides for at least 3 years in order to receive the BIO certification; it also needs to be processed within the international guidelines for ecological production.
  • Wool: from certified organic livestock farming, which doesn’t include mules or chlorine. The ecological farming of livestock places high demands on animal welfare and ensures that the animals are treated humanely.
  • Tencel: extracted from eucalyptus trees, is 100% of natural origin and is 100% biodegradable in nature. TENCEL is a new name for Lyocell cellulose fibre from Lenzing. absorbs twice as much moisture and, unlike synthetic fibres, releases it back into the atmosphere, thus significantly improve the skin’s ability to breathe under it. It significantly prevents the growth of bacteria and does not contain any chemicals which can cause the development of allergic reactions.
  • EcoVero: the purest, most environmentally friendly viscose that can be produced today. This innovated cellulose fibre comes from European forests and is produced locally in Austria through Lenzing.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo viscose is obtained from bamboo itself, which is naturally antibacterial, and no pesticides are used in its cultivation.
  • Recycled: Nowadays, a vast amount of materials can be recycled, including nylon, cotton, PET, leather, polyester, tires and many more. Instead of throwing out plastic bottles, they can be melted down, cleaned and turned into yarns and fabrics for clothing.
  • Piñatex: Piñatex is a natural vegan leather made of pineapple leaf fibres. The suppliers of pineapple fibres are predominantly farmers from the Philippines, so Piñatex gives local farmers the opportunity to profit from the waste that would normally end up as part of compost.
  • Eco Leather: The production of ecological leather has a minimal impact on the environment. Residue of genuine leather from the food industry is used. There is no surface treatment as in regular leather production.
  • Modal: a type of viscose fibre – or rather, a fibre obtained from beechwood cellulose. It is a 100% biodegradable material and does not require the consumption of large amounts of pesticides or thousands of litres of water for its production, like cotton.

Hopefully this short guide can be of use to you next time you’re browsing and shopping for sustainable fashion, and can help you better understand how your clothing is made and where it came from.

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