April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R || 41 waste, he suggests, is a good starting point. Hammond adds that more often, com- panies interchange the terms "sustainable" and "eco-conscious." While both terms have similarities, they aren't necessarily the same thing. "There is an important dif- ferentiation to make between eco-apparel and sustainable apparel," says Hammond. "Eco-apparel typically refers to how fab- rics are produced in relation to the natural environment." Meanwhile, "sustainable" typically refers to more broad categories like social responsibility, fair trade, and humane working conditions. Despite that, buyers will often find companies bearing the eco- conscious label also simultaneously striving for sustainability. "The same person who's eco-conscious is also concerned about the ethicality of the production," stresses Brumer. CHECK THE LABEL Since some companies will focus largely on the marketing literature over actual manufacturing and sourcing practices (also known as "greenwashing"), buyers can tap into a few key resources and industry- accepted certifications to determine if gar- ments fit their eco-needs. To determine if a company's truly practicing what they preach, Boelk recommends inspecting the garment construction as a starting point. "Read the label, because many brands will tout their lines as eco-conscious or green- friendly," he states. Finding fabrics made with close to 90 percent eco fibers like or- ganic cotton, recycled fibers, natural hemp, or tencil, Boelk contends, will generally be a reliable watermark. An extremely low-priced product can also be a red flag, most sources agree. While the crop of more eco-friendly brands has grown in recent years and price points are generally now more affordable for decora- tors, buyers should be aware that the price tag will still be slightly higher than a tra- ditional non-organic, 100 percent cotton T-shirt. Industry-accepted certifications are also a reliable qualifier. Two highly-vetted af- filiations are the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Standard 100 by OEKO TEX. These certifications verify textiles and garments for line items such as recycled fiber content, manufacturing techniques, and chemical inputs. Both certifications are determined by indepen- dent testing, and only products that pass a rigorous set of criteria receive certification. continued on page 65 Right: Decorators can offer eco-apparel as a part of their broader approach to earth-friendly initiatives like screen re- claiming and safe ink disposal. (Image courtesy Groceries Ap- parel) Below left: Eco-conscious apparel often coincides with manufacturers focused on sustainability. (Image courtesy Alternative Apparel) Below right: Shops can tap into the infant market with eco apparel since it offers a garment selection that is largely chemical-free and safe for skin contact. (Image courtesy Royal Apparel) CERTIFICATION SHORTLIST A quick online search will yield a handful of reputable orga- nizations who certify products as organic and earth-friendly, but these organizations deal directly with apparel and textiles: • Global Organic Textile Stan- dard (GOTS): The GOTS is a textile processing standard that rates products on a se - ries of ecological and social criteria. Apparel that meets the organization's rigorous standards will often bear the GOTS seal on their company website or clothing tag. ( • OEKO-TEX: This organiza- tion uses a certification called The STANDARD 100, which it defines as an "independent testing and certification sys- tem for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materi- als used." The STANDARD 100 certifies everything from raw and dyed yarns to ready-made garments. (www.

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