What is GOTS?

October 20, 2021

cotton GOTS
Source: Canva

GOTS? You have probably seen these four letters many, many times. Here is what they mean.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a global textile processing certification for organic fibres. Actually, one of the most widely spread ones. This standard ensures responsible manufacturing and limited use of chemicals.

The beginning

The history of GOTS dates back to the beginning of the 21st century when four international organisations from the US, the UK, Germany and Japan united their efforts and created the GOTS guidelines. These founding organisations were: 

  • The International Association of Natural Textile Industry (IVN)
  • The Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA)
  • The Organic Trade Association (OTA)
  • The Soil Association (SA)

After four years of negotiations, in 2006, they officially established the “Global Organic Textile Standard” with the main goal of creating a common approach to the certification and labelling of organic textiles.

Universal adoption

Since its introduction, GOTS has gained universal recognition and the number of certified facilities grew to 10,388 in 2020. A remarkable growth was marked in both 2019 and 2020 when the number of GOTS-certified facilities went up 34.8% and 33.8%, respectively, year-on-year. Currently, the GOTS-certified facilities are located in more than 70 countries. In 2020, the countries and regions with the largest growth in GOTS certification were: China (up 114%), Sri Lanka (up 103%), Hong Kong (up 87%), France (up 82%) and Portugal (up 49%). “The growing interest of leading retailers and brands in garments, which are produced and certified according to the GOTS, has created an increasing demand for GOTS products,” as information on GOTS official website points out.

Additionally, as its popularity grew on an international level, GOTS replaced the more than 10 other standards:

  • North American Fiber Standard – Organic Trade Association (USA)
  • Guidelines ‘Naturtextil IVN certified’ – International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany)
  • Standards for Processing and Manufacture of Organic Textiles – Soil Association (England)
  • Certification and Standards for Organic Cotton Products – Japan Organic Cotton Association (Japan)
  • EKO Sustainable Textile Standard
  • Control Union Certifications (formerly Skal International, Netherlands)
  • Standards for Organic Textiles – Ecocert (France)
  • Organic Textile Standard – ICEA (Italy)
  • Standards for Organic Textiles – ETKO (Turkey)
  • Organic Fiber Standards – Oregon Tilth (USA)
  • Standards for Processing of Organic Textile Products – OIA (Argentina)
number of GOTS facilities
Number of GOTS-certified facilities, 2006-2020 Source: Global Organic Textile Standard

How to earn a GOTS label?

There are two GOTS label grades, depending on the percentage of organic fibre in the product: 

  • GOTS Organic: products that contain no less than 95% certified organic fibres. 
  • GOTS Made with Organic: products that contain no less than 70% certified organic fibres.

Depending on the GOTS label, up to 30% of the fibre content of the products may be made of non-organic fibres which could be recycled synthetic fibres, which are made with recovered industrial waste (e.g. polyester, polyamide) or regenerated fibres, which are made with natural materials like wood cellulose (e.g. lyocell). 

Prohibited are the following fibres: conventional cotton, conventional angora hair fibre, virgin polyester, acrylic, asbestos, carbon and silver fibres, mulesed wool and any other not explicitly permitted fibres.

Additionally, GOTS products must not include more than 10% synthetic fibres. There are some exceptions, however. For instance, products like leggings and socks are allowed to contain up to 25% synthetic fibres in order to not compromise on the moisture-wicking abilities of the products. 

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