The UK Organic Textile Market 2019

There was a considerable increase in the purchase of ethical clothing in 2018, as the market grew by 19.9%. For second-hand clothing it grew by 22.5%. The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) recently launched the UK Government’s first enquiry into the environmental and social impacts of ‘fast fashion’. This resulted in MPs writing to the UK’s top fashion retailers, asking how they are taking action to reduce environmental harm. This has called into question the current business model of the fashion industry, which, although financially successful in the short term, has a huge cost to the planet.

Alongside this, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recently established a charter outlining steps that the global fashion industry must take towards addressing global warming, and contains the vision for the industry to achieve net-zero emissions by 20502. Soil Association, as part of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), has signed up to support the charter.

Organic certified textiles can play a vital role in communicating these stories, particularly GOTS, which covers the whole supply chain and also addresses social conditions in factories. GOTS Managing Director Claudia Kersten, says “The increasing number of certified facilities aligns with the common desire to solve sustainability related problems. It confirms that GOTS is seen as part of the solution. Company leaders use GOTS as a risk management tool and as market opportunity. Consumers value the verifiable certification from field to finished product.”

As consumer expectations of authenticity and transparency grow, businesses recognise that organic textile certifications such as GOTS and Organic Content Standard (OCS) play a valuable role in ensuring integrity for retailers and consumers alike. The number of GOTS certified facilities grew by 14.6% in 2018, with growth almost doubling from the previous year. This signifies increased supplier commitment to organic production, which increases feasibility for retailers to offer organic garments. This is good news against a backdrop of growing demand – it has been found that 61% of interviewed consumers want to know about how retailers are minimising their impacts on the environment, and the actions being taken
to protect their workers’ human rights5. This further incentivises
brands to tell a story through their products, showcasing commitments to current and future sustainable development.

Organic Textile Report 2019 by Soil Association