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Organic cotton – the question of authenticity

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Organic cotton – the question of authenticity

As the fashion industry continues its shift towards a more sustainable footing, organic cotton is becoming an increasingly popular fibre choice. Organic cotton has a plethora of benefits; it’s grown from non-GMO seeds, it eliminates the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and it uses natural farming practices that support healthy soil, increase biodiversity, and reduce the fibre’s water footprint. As such, it has many advantages over conventional GMO cotton, which no longer fits into the industry’s sustainability-conscious landscape.

Verifying authenticity

However, for a garment to be sold as organic, it must of course be organic. As most brands and retailers buy finished garments rather than fibre or fabric, they must rely on organic certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Organic Content Standard (OCS). Both certifications require complete chain of custody certification, while GOTS includes environmental and social requirements for fibre processing.

Worldwide, non-organic cotton is still the norm, and in some major cotton-producing countries, up to 95% of cotton is genetically modified, with the use of toxic and synthetic chemicals widespread. This makes accidental contamination a very real issue. There are other issues too. With demand outstripping supply and organic cotton traditionally commanding higher prices, there can be an incentive to substitute non-organic for organic fibres or mix the two together.

Since the difference isn’t visible, testing is the only way to know whether a switch has happened. Verifying the organic status of garments also protects brands, retailers, or sellers from potential reputation damage when making invalid organic claims.

A new era of testing

Testing by a laboratory, on both raw materials and finished garments, is thus an important aspect of certification.

In 2019, the ISO/IWA 32:2019 “Screening of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in cotton and textiles” was developed by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), and Textile Exchange as a widely accepted testing method for GMO detection in cottonseed, leaf, cotton fibre and cotton fibre-derived materials.

Eurofins is one of the few labs that can test all the chemical parameters of GOTS as well as GMOs according to ISO/IWA 32:2019. On top of state-of-the-art GMO technology and knowledge, around 200 pesticides and 250 toxic substances will be screened to ensure the cotton is farmed in eco-friendly practice.

What it means for the fashion industry

Occasional headlines of invalid organic cotton claims or in some serious cases organic cotton fraud underscore the need for verification and the importance of robust processes throughout the supply chain. Organic farming is as much a process as an end product and one that is infinitely kinder to people and planet. Transparency protects brands, it protects consumers and, ultimately, the farmers.

On 15 April, Eurofins will be hosting a one-hour webinar where a GMO testing expert and a garment testing expert will walk you through information about organic cotton testing and share
their insights from their experience supporting different customers in assessing their organic cotton products. Whether you are an established retailer, a new brand, designer,
online store selling organic cotton, or you want to explore using organic cotton, we warmly welcome you to join us. Save your seat now: attendee.gotowebinar.com

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Fashion

Nilit partners with The Ocean Foundation

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Image: Sensil Facebook

Nylon brand Nilit has partnered with The Ocean Foundation on its Blue Resilience Initiative.

Joining The Ocean Foundation’s Blue Resilience Initiative, the collaboration aims to protect essential ocean meadows and other coastal habitats. According to Nilit, marine grasslands are being damaged at the rate of two football fields per hour. As important oceanic ecosystems, the grasslands help to reduce global warming by taking CO2 from the atmosphere.

Nilit, which also owns sustainable brand Sensil, has previously stated that protecting the oceans and reducing CO2 is part of its Total Product Sustainability Program. Recently, it reduced CO2 emissions at its main facility, and has utilised clean energy techniques at its manufacturing plants.

“NILIT and The Ocean Foundation can affect both sides of the ocean health equation and, together, make a more substantial impact on the well-being of our oceans and our planet,” said head of global marketing at Nilit, Sagee Aran.

The Ocean Foundation’s Blue Resilience Initiative focuses on coastal reconstruction and providing carbon offsets for foundations, corporations, donors and events. Its work notes the ecological and social impact that coastal areas have on the world, with man made infrastructure degrading nature’s natural defense mechanisms. The Blue Initiative seeks to restore and protect these coastal habitats.

“We are excited to join in The Ocean Foundation’s crucial work to protect the marine ecosystems that sustain life in the oceans and on land,” said Aran. “The Ocean Foundation investment, we have expanded our vision far beyond the traditional supply chain structure so that we can more rapidly and effectively bring about positive environmental impact.”

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Nordstrom and Nike partner with Black Owned Everything

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Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

Multibrand retailer Nordstrom has launched a partnership with marketplace Black Owned Everything, a platform promoting Black-owned businesses, and its founder Zerina Akers.

The collaboration sees Akers and Nordstrom come together on a curated selection featuring four Black-owned brands, displayed alongside new Nike and Jordan collections in the Nordstrom x Nike dedicated online space.

Labels included in the curation are William Okpo, Sammy B, L’Enchanteur and handbag designer Brandon Blackwood.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

“When we launched Black Owned Everything back in February of this year, partnerships like Nordstrom x Nike were exactly the type of activations I had in mind to amplify the reach of the Black designers whom I work with and mentor,” said Akers, in a release.

She continued: “This intersection of well-established brands and emerging designers is where the progress of Black Owned Everything’s mission takes place.

“The inclusion of these selected designers is a big step for their individual career paths and an even bigger step in the right direction for the American marketplace and beyond.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

“This curation is a fun mix of fashion and lifestyle pieces for the people who are keen to street trends and enjoy functionality.”

Simultaneous with the online presence of the collection, Black Owned Everything merchandise will also be available at four Nordstrom x Nike pop-ups in US-based Nordstrom stores.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
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Sustainable flea market site Farly to launch in UK

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Image: Farly
Image: Farly

Fashion marketplace Farly has announced it is set to launch in the UK on November 11, bringing its flea market approach of resale to new vintage-loving consumers.

Marketed as a virtual flea market, the site hopes to reinvent shopping in a fun and carefully curated way. Its concept revolves around virtual shop windows and mood boards intended to inspire visitors.

Farly looks to appeal to independent sellers, small retailers, artists and curators, providing potential users with the option to design their own shop window through image uploads and editing tools, helping to enhance their offering.

Image: Farly
Image: Farly

“As the world prepares for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) summit this November, the importance of climate change and looking after our planet has been more prominent than ever,” stated Farleigh Hungerford, Farly’s founder, in a release.

She continued: “Farly only encourages the sale of vintage, pre-loved and second-hand items and we really encourage sellers to have sustainability at heart, from packaging to thinking about the origin of the product all the way to the end of the items’ life cycle.

“Farly adds to this message with the core values at the heart of the business, encouraging users to re-use, recycle and restyle.”

The platform will also feature a reward system, called Farly Points, where sellers can earn points through promoting sales from curated items in their virtual shop windows. Building up points can contribute to discounts for users with the monetisation of their displays.

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