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Unpicking the thread of your organic socks

Seriously, don’t pick at your socks, but do read on to discover more about organic standards.

Kingly lead Europe in the production of sustainably produced promotional merchandise. Our promotional products range from a huge choice of socks to suit every foot, to apparel to appeal to everyone – from towels to T-shirts to Polo shirts and underwear.

And for the great majority of our products, that means cotton. For Kingly, that means only organic cotton. Not only does it have to be certified organic; we need to be confident that every element in the supply chain is sustainable and ethical.

The key to this is GOTS – the Global Organic Textile Standard.

GOTS: Ecology and Social responsibility

The GOTS is an international organisation based in German, recognised the world over for its work on ensuring organic production and social responsibility. Its founding members were International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN), the Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA), Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the Soil Association.

GOTS works worldwide to promote environmentally responsible and organic production, underpinned by socially responsible and ethical employment – from fair wages to health and safety in production and in supply chains.

The Standard

The Standard itself is set out in a straightforward document, available here. It’s 33 pages long and, significantly, at least a third of it is devoted to social and ethical criteria above and beyond the standards for organic fibres, materials and permitted chemical inputs. Its currently on Version 6.0 (2020) and a further revised version is currently under consideration.

For organic material composition for example (the actual proportion of organic material in the finished product can be specified later) 95% or more of the material must be organic.

Kingly’s organic cotton socks, for example, are usually made of 80% organic cotton, 17% recycled polyamide for strength, and 3% elastine, which gives a bit of stretch, making them comfortable and helping them stay up. Kingly’s labelling is always crystal clear about this, which is as it should be.

The Standard further explores the necessary structures for auditing, testing of materials, testing of production residues, and the final trading of the end products.

A look at section headings is illuminating and one can see easily that the impact is two-fold.

It’s not just the quality of cotton or other materials that matter. It’s the significant positive social impact that comes with being ‘organic’ too. In a nutshell, organic cotton is a little more expensive than non-organic cotton because the real people involved in its production are required to be treated with respect, and this is audited along with the rest of the more mechanistic criteria.

How do we know ‘organic cotton’ is organic?

Quite simply, anyone adopting the GOTS standards is subject to those standards being audited by an independent third party, using the standards and criteria set out in the Standards document. Only when criteria are met can any part of the process be certified as organic.

Every so often the news media comes to life with stories of ‘greenwashing’, alleged or otherwise. It’s because of this that Kingly is obsessive about being transparent with all our claims to sustainability. We don’t hide behind generalisations and all certifications relevant to our products are available from us on request or directly via a QR code on product labels.

Certification counts

Behind the Standards document itself is a raft of procedures, checks, audits and certification – all intended to drive the quality and reputation of the Standards themselves, and to spread its message as far as possible at every level. Board room decisions are just as important as working conditions up the supply chain.

Areas of scrutiny and certification include first stages production, spinning, weaving & knitting, wet processing, manufacturing, labelling and trading.

Adding value, but not as we used to know it…

With organic, ethical, sustainable and environmentally responsible manufacturing, the concept of value has grown. Of course, there is always the economists’ version of adding value, which remains important. But with the standards required for the production and use of organic cotton, we add genuine value at many additional levels.

Not only do we benefit from knowing our cotton socks have been made without harm to the environment – we also know that everyone else involved has benefited too.

If you have a choice, why would you buy anything else?

Learn more about our zero-waste facility here and about our GOTS certification here. For more on the GOTS standard watch this video.

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Don’t hesitate to contact us and get a consultation on what merchandise will suit your brand best. Request free samples here: service@wearekingly.com

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