How to become an ethical fashion brand and the certificates you need to gain.

Firstly, and most importantly, you must think what does an ethical business means to you? Once you know that, then we can begin to discuss the certificates and how you can get them.

What is an ethical business?

There is no one definition of an ethical business. Ethics come from a person’s values which are as unique as we are. But when you are a business owner, it is your job to determine what those values are.

Ethical businesses try to minimise any negative impact they make on society or the environment and often known as a social enterprise as oppose to an ethical business. But when it comes to ethical fashion, transparency is key.

What are the requirements of an ethical fashion brand?

When applying for certain accreditations and certifications, there are some things you must consider. However, ‘ethical’ covers such a wide range of topics and values, it is impossible to list everything single one. Here are some things you should ask yourself as an ethical fashion brand:

  • Are we honest and transparent?
  • Do we consider our use of materials?
  • Do we provide good working conditions and regular audits?
  • Are we environmentally conscious?
  • Do we offer our customers quality, long lasting products and schemes to increase the longevity of our products?
  • Are we diverse and size inclusive?
  • Do we support and advocate for causes we believe in?
  • Am I supporting my local area?

Ethical fashion certifications to consider and how to get them

  • GOTS Certified

The Global Organic Textile Standard sets the standard for textiles made from organic fibres. These products adhere to strict environmental and social criteria and must contain minimum 70% organic fibres.

Apply here: https://global-standard.org/certification-and-labelling/how-to-become-a-certification-body

  • Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX

A third-party textile certification that tests all levels of processing. Finished or raw yarns, knitted fabrics, accessories and lots more can all be tested to their strict criteria and Standard 100 Certified.

Apply here: https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/our-standards/standard-100-by-oeko-tex

  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

The largest independent facility certification program in the world focussing on apparel, footwear and sewn products. This certification is for the factories, not the brands, certifying each factory based on its compliance to their 12 core principles. Their principles are based on international workplace standard local laws and workplace regulations.

Apply here: https://wrapcompliance.org/about/

  • EcoCert

This certification provides agricultural training and helps made plans to move to more organic practices.  EcoCert certifies that textiles made with organic grown materials abide with the Organic Content Standards, making them traceable and with integrity of raw materials during all stages.

Apply here: https://www.ecocert.com/en/home

  • Fairwear Foundation

A fairwear foundation membership means a brand must follow steps based on the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights. This means, employment must be chosen freely, over the age of 15, equal opportunities for all, fair wage and safe working environments. Based only in Europe.

Apply here: https://www.fairwear.org/

  • Cradle 2 Cradle

This certification focuses on the organic health of garment materials from its recyclability, water efficiency and the social responsibility behind its production. It also promises that everything grown is then planted back into the ground eventually, focussing on lifecycle.

Apply here: https://www.c2ccertified.org/

  • The Ethical Trading Initiative

This is seen as the first step to an ethical fashion brand and a way to pledge improvements. Set up in the 90’s after the human rights abuse within the fashion industry was exposed, ETI focus on the protection of workers’ rights in the global supply chain.

Apply here: https://www.ethicaltrade.org/

Whilst there are many certifications available for aspiring ethical fashion brands, it is worth remembering that many ethical fashion brands are small businesses, many without the funds to purchase these certifications.

As long as you remain transparent and true to your values and the values of your customer, you can be an ethical fashion brand.

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