ORGANIC: The majority of fibre in all of my yarns and fibre tops must come from certified organic farming. Wherever possible, the entire supply chain should be accredited by the Global Organic Textile Standard, GOTS.
CRUELTY-FREE: Animal health & welfare must be ensured at all levels by organic farming standards. Mulesing is not permitted.
ETHICAL: No child labour, no discrimination, no slavery.
TOXIN-FREE: Allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemical residues are not allowed. Our minimum requirement is OEKOTEX100 certification, but the much stricter GOTS is always preferred. For that reason, all my dyes and mordants are GOTS-approved.
100% NATURAL: I use only natural dyes and natural fibres. All my dyes and mordants are compliant with by the Global Organic Textile Standard, GOTS.
NO SUPERWASH: A 100g skein of "superwash" wool can be 20g plastic (the coating to prevent wool from felting) and only 80g wool, yikes! In my yarns and fibre tops, I permit only virgin wool and wool treated with the GOTS-approved enzymatic anti-felting and anti-pilling treatment Lanazym, which is entirely plastic-free and toxin-free.
In order to support small farms and communities, I purchase eri silk from a community project in Meghalaya, and finest pashmina directly from Vishwanath. Every spring, he combs the family's Changthangi goats to harvest this luxury fibre, and spins it by hand.
These yarns are not certified organic, because certification fees are unaffordable for single families and small businesses.
Photo credit: Catherine Allié, Ladakh
- The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most comprehensive international textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire supply chain. Criteria for production include organic fiber content, use of heavy metals, restriction on bleaches, dyes, procedures to minimize waste and no PVC packaging of the products. The social criteria include no forced labor, no child labor, safe and hygienic working conditions, protection of wages and working hours, no discrimination. I prefer this standard over any other.
OEKO-TEX is a test and certifying system for textile that focusses on restricting the use of harmful substances in textile manufacturing. The demands are very strict and are monitored regularly (although GOTS is even stricter). A certificate has to be renewed every year. Although the label focusses on the health aspect of the textile product, the guidelines for the use of harmful substances also has interfaces with the ecological dimension of sustainability.
Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) and Seal International (part of SFA). Both encourage the adoption of responsible production practices that minimise environmental impact of animal fibre production, safeguard herder livelihoods and meet high animal welfare standards. They are the minimum requirement for the portion of cashmere, yak, and camel fibre in my otherwise organic blends, because an organic farming certification is often impossible for the nomadic and semi-nomadic herders in the Gobi desert.
- The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. It provides the wool industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers, ensures that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic respect for animal welfare of the sheep and respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare. The RWS requires all stages of production to be certified, beginning with the wool farmers and through to the garment manufacturers. The RWS is an ideal addition to organic farming standards, and some of my wool is certified organic and RWS.