Many of our products use terms to describe what the fabric is or how it is made. Some products are associated with industry-recognised standards and frameworks to ensure the ethical and social impacts of their actions are accounted for*. We have put together this glossary of the key terms used in describing our products to provide a better understanding of the terminology used.
*These are correct to our knowledge from the information provided by suppliers.
Organic cotton is grown and farmed without the use of pesticides, eliminating highly toxic substances from the environment. This has long-term benefits for both humanity and the planet, which is why it is often seen as more environmentally friendly compared to conventional cotton.
Recycled polyester (often called RPET) is obtained by melting down existing plastic and re-spinning it into new polyester fibre. Pre-consumer recycled content is material that has never reached the end-user, having been diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process, which could include waste from the spinning of yarn or the cutting of garments. Post-consumer waste includes plastic PET bottles, industrial fishing nets as well as some used clothing, this diverts plastic from landfill. Methods of recycled polyester may be mechanical (melting plastic and then extruding into yarn) or chemical (going back to the monomer or polymer phase before extruding yarn). The benefits of recycled polyester include giving a second chance to materials by deferring them from landfill, and that the carbon footprint per tonne of fibre compared to virgin polyester is an estimated 32% lower.
This can come in two forms:
Pre consumer waste: Cotton waste from the manufacturing cutting room is recycled back into cotton which can be used in apparel production. The offcuts are sorted into different colours and shredded down, then finely spun into yarn to make clothing. This can be done by using organic or non-organic offcuts. Either way, turning a ‘waste’ material back into something usable is a great sustainable practice.
Post consumer waste: A cotton garment that has served its intended use and has been discarded for disposal, having completed its life as a consumer item. Cotton waste is processed with stripping machines that break the yarns and fabric into smaller pieces. The amount of energy, water and chemical products is much less than if virgin cotton had been used.
‘Spun Dyed’ or "Dope Dyed" relates to the process of colour dyeing polyester. The colour dye is added directly to the polyester chips prior to them going through a heating process, where they are melted and extruded to form yarns. These yarns are then woven together to make clothing. Spun dye is in addition to using recycled polyester to cut down on the water and chemicals used to dye fabric and has a reduced impact when compared to traditional methods where fabric is dyed in large vats of water and treated with chemicals needed to dye the fabric.
It takes at least three years of farming a field without pesticides to be able to classify it as organic. There are now initiatives to encourage farmers to go organic by allowing them to sell their crops while they are in the process of becoming certified as organic, and this cotton is called transitional cotton.
By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.
The aim of Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is to define worldwide recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles – from the harvesting of raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, to labelling – to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Oeko-Tex is a registered trade mark, representing the product labels and company certifications issued and other services provided by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology. Most notably known for STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, one of the world's best-known labels for textiles tested for harmful substances. It stands for customer confidence and high product safety.
The amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) Audit is an industry-driven movement that aims to monitor and assess workplace standards across the global supply chain.
SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) is a social audit that assesses a site based on their organisation's standards of labour, health and safety, environment and business ethics. Sedex believes these are key areas for assessing an organisation's responsible business practices and meeting social compliance.
Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, formerly Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production is an organization whose stated aim is promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world. It certifies factories according to twelve "Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production Principles".
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. They can affect both the wearer of the garment and the environment when it washes or rubs off from jackets. It has accumulated in measurable levels in snow, ice and water around the world. For some PFCs there is evidence that they cause harm to reproduction, promote the growth of tumours and affect the hormone system.