About Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

IVN firmly believes that the Global Organic Textile Standard defines the minimum parameters that textiles must meet to be considered sustainable. GOTS is an internationally established standard that sets global requirements regarding ecology and social accountability for textiles.

This inter­na­tio­nally known and globally applied standard is awarded by GOTS gGmbH, of which IVN is co-owner.  There­fore GOTS is only indirectly an IVN standard, even though IVN played a major role in its incep­tion. The quality seal IVN ZERTIFIZIERT, now no longer in use,  was the inspi­ra­tion for this standard and was in large part integrated into GOTS.

GOTS requi­re­ments are slightly lower than those of NATURTEXTIL IVN ZERTIFIZIERT BEST. They repre­sent what IVN considers to be the minimum requi­re­ments for products to be considered honestly and authenti­cally sustainable.  As both standards use largely the same formu­la­tions, follo­wing the diffe­rences between BEST and GOTS.  You will find the defini­tion of BEST quality seal here: BEST Guide­lines

Goals of these standards

The goal of both standards is to formu­late requi­re­ments that assure a sustainable produc­tion of textiles throughout the entire produc­tion chain and thereby offer credible and reliable product security for consu­mers.  Whereas GOTS focusses on trans­la­ting requi­re­ments into indus­trial scale produc­tion, IVN BEST is aware that its stricter standards cannot be met by every product. BEST seeks to formu­late the highest currently achievable standards as concerns environ­mental protec­tion, social accoun­ta­bi­lity and consumer safety whereas GOTS offers a sustaina­bi­lity standard for mass produc­tion.

Product range

GOTS only awards its label to products that are comple­tely certi­fied in all their compo­n­ents.  By contrast, IVN BEST allows a partial label­ling in the sense of indivi­dual product compo­n­ents.  For example, a baby carriage whose textile compo­n­ents inclu­ding the roof meet BEST requi­re­ments can be labeled with BEST on the appro­priate parts.  This is not possible for GOTS.

Proportion of organic natural fibres

The most signi­fi­cant diffe­rence between the two standards is the minimum share of certi­fied natural fibres in the finished product.  A GOTS labeled product must consist of at least 70% natural fibres. In other words, at most 30% can be synthetic fibres or rayon. The 70% natural fibres must origi­nate from certi­fied organic farming or animal husbandry (kbA or kbT).

GOTS offers 2 levels of labels: the GOTS „organic“, wherein 95% of compo­nent fibres must origi­nate from certi­fied organic farming (kbA) or certi­fied organic animal husbandry (kbT) and the lower level „made with“, in which only 70% is organic natural fibres.

BEST has only one label, speci­fying that only products contai­ning 100% organic fibres can be labeled. With suffi­cient justi­fi­ca­tion, GOTS also allows the use of natural fibres origi­na­ting in certi­fied organic produc­tion „in conver­sion“.

Remaining fibres

For GOTS, the remai­ning 30% of  fibres not origi­na­ting from organic produc­tion can be conven­tional natural fibres (with the excep­tion of cotton and angora), sustainable regene­ra­tion fibres (from raw materials generated by sustainable forestry or organic farming or recycling-waste products) or recycled synthetic (polymer) fibres origi­na­ting in pre- and post-consumer waste fabrics  Other regene­ra­tive and synthetic fibres are only allowed up to a level of 10%.

Pretreatment, dying, printing, finishing

BEST only allows bleaching with oxygen. GOTS mandates bleaching through oxygen only for cotton. For other fibres, excep­tions can be made as long as the substances used meet the basic chemical standards as defined for GOTS.

Merce­ri­sa­tion is allowed for GOTS but not for BEST as long as the chemi­cals used meet the basic standards defined for GOTS.  This is also true for brigh­te­ners.

The selec­tion of dyes and helping agents is stricter for BEST than for GOTS. BEST excludes all dyes based on heavy metals with the excep­tion of iron. GOTS makes an excep­tion for iron and also for copper (up to 5% of total weight for blue, green or turquoise dyes).

Similarly, the selec­tion of dyes, pigments and helping agents used in printing is more restric­tive for BEST. BEST excludes dyes contai­ning heavy metals with the excep­tion of iron. GOTS also allows an excep­tion for copper. Any additives contai­ning more than 1% perma­nent AOX are excluded for BEST. GOTS makes an excep­tion for these for yellow, green and purple pigments.

There are also diffe­rences regar­ding the range of finis­hing processes and agents. GOTS allows synthetic agents to the extent that they meet basic chemical requi­re­ments. BEST allows synthetic additives only for softening and felting and expli­citly excludes silicone-based additives to soften or finish as well as additives that contain aminoe­thyle­tha­no­lamin and flame-retar­ding additives.  These are accepted by GOTS.

Notions and Accessories

Sewing threads: BEST only allows sewing threads of 100 % natural fibres or polyester thread covered with natural fibre. GOTS allows sewing thread made of synthetic or regene­rated fibres.

Pockets: BEST allows pockets to be made of fabrics that can be up to 30% synthetic. GOTS also allows 100% regene­rated or synthetic fabrics and fibres.

Embro­idery and labels: BEST allows only natural fibre or rayon. GOTS allows recycled synthe­tics.
For lace, ribbons, edging, cords, lining, appli­ca­tions, both standards require a minimum of 70% natural fibres.
For BEST, The remai­ning 30% must be free of GMOs, which typically excludes conven­tional cotton. Synthetic and regene­rated fibres are allowed. GOTS excludes the use  of conven­tional cotton and angora for these articles and speci­fies that synthetic fibres must be recycled fibres and that regene­ra­tive fibres must origi­nate from sustainable genera­tion.
Buttons, snaps, buckles, zippers: BEST only allows natural raw materials and metal that does not contain chrome or nickel.  GOTS also allows plastics and regene­rated materials.

Minimum social standards

Safe and clean working condi­tions
GOTS applies the minimum social standards formu­lated by the Inter­na­tional Labour Organiza­tion (ILO). BEST speci­fies additional requi­re­ments: escape and rescue plans are to be prominently posted, fire extin­gu­is­hers are to be avail­able, escape routes and assembly points are to be designated. An area for breaks and rest areas are to be made avail­able separate from working areas. A person trained in first-aid must be designated for each 10 employees and there must be space for a worker to lie down.

There is to be no child labor
Unlike GOTS, BEST formu­lates compre­hen­sive protec­tion for working children. However, there is no general ban on new hiring of children. As long as children and teenagers are in their growth phase, they may not be subject to heavy manual labor. Daily and weekly work hours are limited (8 h/day, 40 h/week). Breaks are mandated (4,5–6 h: min. 30 min., as of 6 h: min. 60 min). GOTS does not allow new child workers. Children already employed are not protected as compre­hen­si­vely as for BEST.

Decent wages
BEST requires that employees be offered a job contract at the time of hiring speci­fying their wages for a parti­cular time frame.

Ban on exces­sive work hours
BEST adds requi­re­ments regar­ding breaks and special leave to the standards formu­lated for GOTS.  A right to special leave for berea­ve­ment is assured.

To download a compa­rison of IVN quality seals, click here.

Details of the Global Organic Textile Standard is avail­able here and the Label­ling and Licen­sing Guide here.