The starting point for the development of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was the Intercot Conference 2002 in Düsseldorf (Germany). In a workshop, attended by representatives of organic cotton producers, the textile industry, consumers, standard organisations and certifiers, the need for a harmonised organic textile standard that would be globally recognised, was discussed. At that time, numerous different standards and draft standards existed in the niche market of organic textiles. These different standards represented an obstacle to the international exchange and recognition of organic textiles. Simultaneously, they caused confusion among (the few) producers, retailers and consumers who were interested in this field.
As a result of the workshop, the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard was founded with the aim to continuously work on harmonising the various different standards and approaches, as well as to develop a set of global standards.
Since 2002, a number of organisations and experts have periodically participated in this work. A compromise was needed to find consensus over points that some organisations considered to be 'non-negotiable'. Not all standard organisations that participated in the process ended up signing the 'Agreement' formally establishing the Working Group.
The International Working Group constituted of the four founding organisations:
Finally, after four years of negotiation, the "Global Organic Textile Standard" was established in 2006 and the first certification completed.
Taking into account the demand from the retail market to show their compliance with GOTS by having a logo on certified organic garments, the International Working Group finally developed such a label. It decided on its usage and on the main features of the licensing system at its meeting at Biofach in February 2008. During the IFOAM textile conference in Modena, Italy, in June 2008, the label was presented to the public for the first time.
Presentation of a synopsis of leading organic textile standards at the 'Global Standards' workshop; formation of the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard
Foundation of the Global Standard gemeinnützige GmbH (Global Standard non-profit limited liability company), in charge of managing the Global Organic Textile Standard Programme.
More than 2.800 facilities are certified under GOTS and 12 certification bodies are approved to offer GOTS certification.
A database containing the GOTS certified entities and their product categories is introduced on the re-launched website.
The number of facilities certified under GOTS exceeds 3.000.
More than 840.000 workers in more than 3.800 facilities certified under GOTS.
Since its introduction in 2006, GOTS has gained universal recognition, has made numerous similar standards that previously existed redundant and has become the leading standard for the processing of textile goods using organic fibres, including environmentally oriented, technical and social criteria.
As the International Working group declared it a condition for certification bodies to drop any own organic textile standard, in order to be approved for GOTS certification, not only the respective ‘Founding Organisations‘ standards, but also numerous standards set and used by certification bodies finally disappeared from the market.
Thus, GOTS replaced the:
After the enormous growth of certified facilities between 2006 and 2009 (2006: 27 certified facilities, 2008: 1.977, 2009: 2.811), a consolidation phase was entered in 2010, with a small decline (to 2.754) in certified facilities by the end of 2010. Besides the economic difficulties facing the textile industry in general, the introduction of the Certified Suppliers Database in early 2010 (that had more than 120.000 search requests in its first year) meant that buyers (brands, retailers and their wholesalers) first looked for suppliers who were already certified before considering that new suppliers and supply chains acquire certification. This meant that the existing certified entities were receiving more orders for certified textiles than before, although data was not collected to quantify this effect. In 2012, the number of certified facilities started growing again partly because licensees worldwide are getting more and more diverse orders for GOTS goods, and thus, they apply certification for more production lines, processors and manufacturers.
Since 2014, there has been a remarkable growth in certified GOTS facilities. In 2018, the number increased by 14.6% from the preceding year. This can be attributed to consumers and retailers recognising and accepting GOTS as a premier sustainable standard that meets ecological, as well as social criteria. It is the preferred standard for certified organic textiles. We are aware of the responsibilities that come with this and remain committed to pursue the path laid down by the founding organisations of GOTS.
The entities participating in the certification system include processing, manufacturing and trading companies along the entire textile supply chain and range from small-scale units up to the largest vertical integrated enterprises, mainly producing for the North American, European and Japanese markets. The growing interest of leading retailers and brands in garments which are produced and certified according to the GOTS has created increasing demand for GOTS products.
At present, seventeen certifiers are approved under the GOTS scheme, assuring applicants worldwide accessibility to the certification system. Find contact details of all approved certifiers here.
The global nature of the textile industry required a common approach to the certification and labelling of organic textiles, in order to move them from a niche to a mainstream market and to generate awareness, as well as recognition in the retail market and among end consumers. The four founding organisations behind GOTS took on the responsibility of developing a global standard and adapting it in preference to their own 'home-grown' schemes. The GOTS label has both benefited from and contributed to a remarkable growth in the use of organic fibres (especially cotton). The Global Organic Textile Standard now sets the benchmark for an international common understanding of environmentally friendly production systems and social accountability in the organic textile sector. In the future, Global Standard gGmbH will continue to do its best to maintain GOTS as a transparent and reliable system, on which the industry, retailers and consumers can rely.