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The GOTS Story

The Start

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.

The Main Steps Developing the GOTS System

August 2002

Intercot, Düsseldorf

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
July 2004

Innatex, Wallau

Four standards organizations - IVN, OTA, Soil Association and JOCA - sign an "agreement" that defines the common mission and decision-making and implementation procedures.

May 2005

Intercot, Chicago

The four organisations agree on the 1st version of the Global Organic Textile Standard and its implementation scheme.
October 2006

Launch GOTS certification system

June 2008

IFOAM Conference, Modena

Version 2.0 of GOTS and the GOTS label are introduced to the public.
August 2008

Foundation of the Global Standard gemeinnützige GmbH

Foundation of the Global Standard gemeinnützige GmbH (Global Standard non-profit limited liability company), in charge of managing the Global Organic Textile Standard Programme.

December 2008

Launch GOTS Manual for Implementation

Introduction of the ‘Manual for the Implementation of GOTS’ that provides official interpretation guidance and clarifications for specific GOTS criteria.
December 2008

2,000 GOTS facilities

Almost 2,000 facilities are certified under GOTS.

May 2009

Release Approval Procedure & Requirements for Certification Bodies

The ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’, defining GOTS specific accreditation requirements, is released.
June 2009

Release Licensing and Labelling Guide

The ‘Licensing and Labelling Guide’, containing the final licence conditions, is published.
January 2010

2,800 GOTS facilities

More than 2,800 facilities are certified under GOTS and 12 certification bodies are approved to offer GOTS certification.

March 2010

Launch Certified Suppliers Database

A database containing the GOTS certified entities and their product categories is introduced on the re-launched website.

March 2011

GOTS Version 3.0

Version 3.0 of GOTS is published.
January 2013

3,000 GOTS facilities

The number of facilities certified under GOTS exceeds 3,000.

March 2014

GOTS Version 4.0

Version 4.0 of GOTS is published.
January 2016

840,000 workers in GOTS facilities

More than 840,000 workers in more than 3,800 facilities certified under GOTS.

January 2017

1.4 Million workers in GOTS facilities

More than 1.4 Million workers in more than 4,600 facilities certified under GOTS.

March 2017

GOTS Version 5.0

Version 5.0 of GOTS is published.
January 2018

1.8 Million workers in GOTS facilities

More than 1.8 Million workers in 5,024 facilities certified under GOTS.

March 2018

New GOTS logo

A revised GOTS Logo is released. The old logo continues to be a registered trademark of GOTS, with the change to the new one being gradual.
January 2019

2.02 Million workers in GOTS facilities

More than 2.02 Million workers in 5,760 facilities certified under GOTS.

January 2020

7,700 GOTS facilities

More than 7,700 certified facilities reported under GOTS (a growth of 35% from 2018 and over 3,10 million workers covered under the Standard in 2019. Over 23,800 chemical inputs are approved for GOTS processing.

April 2020

GOTS Version 6.0

GOTS version 6.0 and corresponding Implementation Manual released.
February 2021

10,300 GOTS facilities

New high: More than 10,300 GOTS certified facilities in 2020, an increase of 34% with more than 3 million workers in 72 countries

February 2022

12,388 GOTS facilities

12,338 certified facilities (+19%) were reported in 2021, despite the continuing limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Implementation Status of GOTS Certified Facilities

graphic displaying growth in GOTS certified facilities

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:

  • North American Fiber Standard - Organic Trade Association (USA)
  • Guidelines 'Naturtextil IVN certified' - International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany)
  • Standards for Processing and Manufacture of Organic Textiles - Soil Association (England)
  • Certification and Standards for Organic Cotton Products - Japan Organic Cotton Association (Japan)
  • EKO Sustainable Textile Standard
  • Control Union Certifications (formerly Skal International, Netherlands)
  • Standards for Organic Textiles - Ecocert (France)
  • Organic Textile Standard - ICEA (Italy)
  • Standards for Organic Textiles - ETKO (Turkey)
  • Organic Fiber Standards - Oregon Tilth (USA)
  • Standards for Processing of Organic Textile Products - OIA (Argentina)

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, sixteen certifiers are approved under the GOTS scheme, assuring applicants worldwide accessibility to the certification system. Find contact details of all approved certifiers here.

Summary of the GOTS-Story

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.