There are literally be dozens of possible standards and certifications for any given aspect of the garment supply chain – so how do you choose which ones are right for your brand or business?
Here are the nine main standards and certifications to look out for, what they mean, and how to decide if they are right for you:
Name: ISO 9001 (2015)
Created by the International Organization for Standardization, this is one of the most widely used quality management systems.
A manufacturer must demonstrate its ability to consistently produce products that meet customer and regulatory requirements, in addition to an assurance of applying the outlined quality management system in its operations.
As a brand, you know that a manufacturer with an ISO 9001 certification will have a robust quality management system in place.
FLOCERT is a global certification and verification body for Fair Trade products and assures fairness across global supply chains. In addition to certifying ethical standards for businesses, FLOCERT often gets involved in the process of making businesses more sustainable, by offering recommendations and helping to design sustainability plans.
FLOCERT monitors the companies throughout the process to ensure that they stay on track towards their goals.
Name: Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP)
WRAP implements the following 12 principles; compliance with local laws, prohibition of forced labour, prohibition of child labour, prohibition of harassment or abuse, compensation and benefits, hours of work, health and safety, prohibition of discrimination, freedom of association, environment, security, and customs compliance.
Brands who want to ensure that the workers making their products are working in safe conditions should look for WRAP certification. These manufacturers will be following best practices related to the established labour regulations in their country of operation, with the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization in mind.
Name: Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)
Fair Wear Foundation works with brands, factories, trade unions, NGOs and governments to verify and improve workplace conditions. FWF represents over 120 brands, bringing together the key components needed to make a sustainable improvement to workplace conditions.
Brands should check if their manufacturers are certified by FWF if they prioritize having safe working conditions where their products are made.
FWF keeps track of the efforts made by the companies it certifies, and works to increase the effectiveness of efforts made by companies through sharing expertise, social dialogue and strengthening industrial relations.
Bluesign focuses on legal compliance in relation to environmental health and safety. It combines aspects of consumer safety, water and air emissions and occupational health, with a particular focus on the reduction of harmful substance usage at early stages of production.
Brands who want their textile products to be sustainably made while also meeting stringent consumer safety requirements should only work with BlueSign certified manufacturers.
This certification is designed to protect human rights in the workplace through social accountability.
Organizations with an SA8000 certification are audited to encourage them to develop, maintain, and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace. Brands working with these companies can trust that best practices are being used during the entire production process.
Name: Fair Trade
Created by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), and dedicated to providing farmers and workers in developing countries with higher wages and improved working conditions.
For organisations to meet these standards they must demonstrate their willingness to apply fair trade practices across the entire supply chain, not only in their purchasing. If you are a brand that prioritizes ethics and equal opportunity for people in different parts of the world, this certification is a good indication that your manufacturer shares your values as well.
Name: Standard 100 (OEKO-TEX)
OEKO-TEX® tests for harmful substances in textiles; the more intensive the skin contact of a product and the more sensitive the skin, the stricter the human-ecological requirements that need to be complied with.
The STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels. It also includes accessory materials.
This is a great certification to look for if you are making products for users, such as babies, who are likely to have sensitive skin
Name: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
Most commonly used with organic cotton, GOTS is known for being the world’s most predominant processing standard for testing and verifying organic materials. It also provides a consumer label.
To qualify, textile products must be at least 70% organic fibres. There are also strict environmental, toxicological and social criteria, and a detailed quality assurance system. A manufacturer with this certification is clearly dedicated to protecting the environment while producing high-quality organic fabrics.
Be sure to verify that the claimed certification is genuine. Most certification bodies keep an up to date database of their members on their websites, where you can verify that a company’s certification is genuine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gus Bartholomew is co-founder of Supplycompass.
Supplycompass is tech enabled end-to-end production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international manufacturers. It enables brands to find their perfect manufacturing partner at home or overseas. Brands can create tech packs, get matched with a manufacturer and use the platform to manage production from design to delivery. Supplycompass works with brands and manufacturers to embed responsible and sustainable practises in their businesses and deliver value and create opportunities for growth.