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Sustainable Fashion: Certificates That Matter

sustainable fashion certificates

At KRSTN NDRSN, social responsibility matters.

But what does social responsibility even mean, really? It's more than just a trend or box to check off on a list.

Social responsibility is a critical part of our business and mission. It's related to the impact we make in the world through manufacturing more responsibly and more sustainably. It's about building long-lasting partnerships built on trust, respect, and communication. It means leaving the world in a little better shape than we found it in. It means treating our factory partners with the dignity they deserve because there is so much more power in working as a team that is united with one common goal. Social responsibility is our commitment to empowering ourselves, our partners, and each other to do better with this world in any way possible.

We are determined to leave a positive impact on the fashion industry and, ultimately, the world.

We believe that sustainable practices are the best practices and strive to 'Go Green' in every way we can. We also have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure all of our working relationships are as ethical and responsible as possible.

A large part of operating ethically, as a fashion designer and small business owner, is working with factories committed to sustainable and ethical practices. One way to tell which factories are socially responsible is to review and confirm the certifications they have.

It's so important to confirm each company's credentials with a certifying body because, unfortunately, certifications can be easily faked. Having a credential logo on the company's site isn't enough proof; you need to confirm.

The list below features 9 of the most important certifications that a factory could have. It's unlikely any factory you find will have all of them, but you should try to find factories with a few of them to ensure ethical operating practices. Certifications are expensive and require maintenance to keep them up to date, so you should check to ensure their certifications are in good standing.

First Up….

Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

sustainability in fashion

WRAP ensures that manufacturing is "safe, lawful, humane, and ethical."

In other words, WRAP basically checks to ensure that companies comply with a variety of laws and regulations. These include child labor laws, the prohibition of harassment and abuse, customs compliance, and more. WRAP is a very comprehensive certification, and it's a great sign if a factory is WRAP certified.

WRAP has high standards and 12 principles that it abides by which gives a pretty solid overview:

  1. Compliance with Laws and Workplace Regulations

  2. Prohibition of Forced Labor

  3. Prohibition of Child Labor

  4. Prohibition of Harassment or Abuse

  5. Compensation and Benefits

  6. Hours of Work

  7. Prohibition of Discrimination

  8. Health and Safety

  9. Freedom of Association & Collective Bargaining

  10. Environment

  11. Customs Compliance

  12. Security

Fair Trade

socially responsible designer

Fair Trade is a more niche certification, which is not always super common in the fashion industry. Regardless, Fair Trade aims to make trading relationships, practices, and deals as fair as possible for typically marginalized workers. Specifically, Fair Trade is a certification that establishes a fair deal for workers and farmers in developing countries. This means you can feel confident your farmers aren't being taken advantage of, as that is a frequent occurrence in non-Fair Trade operations.

You can read more here:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

certificates to promote sustainable fashion

This certification focuses on ethical forest management and is FSC certified, which means that you're compliant with environmental and social standards in the market. As it relates to fashion? Think about your shipping boxes. Or even more, think about man-made cellulosic fabrications like viscose rayon, modal, lyocell, and all the rising upstarts within this realm. Using FSC-certified packaging, your company will be taking a more significant stance towards saving the rainforests and preventing deforestation.

Specifically, this certification "ensures that wood-based products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits." Items bearing the FSC label mean that the materials originate from legal & sustainable sources, so it's easy for consumers to identify.

OEKO-Tex Standard 100

sustainable fashion designer certificates

This international certification tests textiles for residual harmful substances left on garments after the manufacturing process. The OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certification is exceptionally rigorous, as it tests for numerous regulated (and various unregulated) substances.

So, when a garment is verified as Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, everything in it, literally everything from the lining to buttons to sewing thread - has passed testing for residual harmful substances.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)