Market grows into organic clothes

DEMAND for organic textiles in Australia is increasing, with consumer awareness and certification keys to propel the industry to the next level.

Penguin Cute Tee Front

Fair trade organic clothing label 3Fish is one of the leading organic textile wholesalers in Australia and says it has enjoyed steady growth, selling more than 270,000 items (fairtrade organic cotton garments, caps and bags) since its inception five years ago.

Co-founder Natalie Dillion says, “I think from an organic perspective there’s been a retreat from brands people knew following the Global Financial Crisis. “People are demanding responsibility and ethics.

“People are developing more awareness and understanding of organics and the benefit to the entire supply chain.”

As a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifier, Australian Certified Organic is helping increase awareness among consumers and assisting new interest in the industry.

GOTS is the world’s leading organic textile processing standard and ensures that textiles are truly organic at every stage of production.

Why certified organic clothes

To be certified organic a garment must not only be made from certified organic cotton (this includes grown free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides and no GM), organic standards also require it to be processed free of harsh chemicals and that staff are paid fairly and employed in good working conditions.

At the time of writing Stuart McDiarmid was the GOTS representative in Australia. He said he receives enquiries from people interested in entering the market as a wholesaler or retailer of organic textiles on a weekly basis.

But ensuring every step of the process complies environmentally, socially and chemically does present manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers with challenges.

Stuart said consumers need to be empowered to ask questions about the origin of products to help grow the industry. “People need to ask questions, who made it, how was it made, what process was used.”

Senior certifier with Australian Certified Organic, Jorge Larranaga, says, “There is increasing interest from the industry. Generally, the most challenging part to gaining certification is the dyeing process. Dyes are assessed to ensure that it’s not toxic to the environment or to humans.”

The Linen Press, a wholesaler and supplier of gift lines, is a strong advocate of certification. Co-owner Suzy Kennedy says, “People have to understand the value of certification. Certification is valuable in creating trust for the claims that you make about your product. You have to be accountablefor the claims that you make about your product.”