A guide to the certification jungle

In the fashion industry, it can be a bit of a jungle to find your way around what is good and bad, and who actually keeps what they promise. In these cases, certifications can act as your assurance that companies live up to the things they say.

However, there are countless different certifications, and it can therefore be difficult to remember what each of them means.

We have a desire to make the fashion industry more transparent for you, and make it easier for you to make the best choices for both you and the planet. That is why we have made an overview of the most common certifications you can run into on the market.

At ELSK, we ourselves are certified as follows:

· ELSK is part of 1% for the Planet.
· All our wool knits are mulesing-free.
· All recycled materials are GRS certified.
· All new wool is RWS certified.
· All our T-shirts in the brushed quality have the Swan label.

In addition, our suppliers also have a number of certifications.


In order for a company to obtain the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, it must meet a wide range of criteria. These criteria cover requirements for various areas, including the environment at all stages of production, waste water treatment, quality of the finished product and social requirements based on the most important norms from the ILO (the International Labor Organization, under the UN).

If you are curious about what these criteria entail, you will get a small extract here:

The organic fibers used for the product must be kept separate from regulated fibers during all stages of production. During the processing, there is, among other things, requirements for which dyes may be used. All chemicals must be evaluated and meet basic requirements for toxicity and degradability. There is a ban on using certain ingredients. Do not use chlorine-based bleaching. If there is a print on a product, this print must not contain phthalates or PVC. The manufacturers who produce the product must have an environmental policy which deals with the manufacturer's minimization of waste water, waste and emissions. The product's packaging must not contain PVC. All hangtags must be made from recycled fibers or be certified with FSC and PEFC. There are also requirements in relation to environmental considerations during transport. The farmers or farmers who supply the raw materials must be organically certified. Those who work with the handling of the fibers after they are harvested must have an annual inspection according to GOTS.


RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) is a certification used for wool products. When you are holding a wool product in your hands, it can be difficult to see where the wool comes from. This is where you should look for the RWS mark. When a product is RWS certified, it is your guarantee that the sheep have been treated properly and that both the farm and the land used are run responsibly. Therefore, you can also be completely sure that your wool product is mulesing-free when it is labeled with RWS. In addition to good conditions for the land and the animals, RWS requires decent conditions for the people who work with the animals and on the farm in general.

Only products made from 100% certified wool can be allowed to carry the RWS label.

In order to be absolutely sure that the requirements are met throughout the wool product's journey, all stages of the manufacturing process must be RWS certified.


BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) is a non-profit organization that, through a series of defined standards, calls for a more sustainable way of purchasing cotton.

If you see the BCI logo on a product, it means that the cotton used comes from a committed BCI member. That is, a member who pays into the program and who sources at least 5% of their cotton as better cotton, and has a plan to purchase at least 50% of their cotton as better cotton within five years. It is a big step in the direction of going organic, which is especially a big help for farmers who cannot afford to switch to organic right away. It requires a lot of investment to switch to ecology.

The organization was founded back in 2009, and since then has gained more than 2,400 members. In order to get more people to bet on better cotton, BCI makes a big effort for, among other things, to help and train farmers on how to grow their cotton better.


FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is a non-profit organization and they are your guarantee that the wood you buy comes from well-managed forests and responsible sources.

If a material comes from the forest,
can it be FSC certified. Before a material can be FSC certified,
however, it must come from forests that protect the animals' natural habitats, maintain biodiversity, protect old trees, do not carry out deforestation, protect the rights of the natives, and ensure a fair wage and a safe working environment.

To be sure that all these requirements are complied with, FSC, if necessary, makes unannounced visits to the forests and the other stages of the process. In addition, all links in the supply chain must have a traceability system that is checked at least once a year.

There is not just one FSC label, but three of its kind:

1) FSC 100%: All the forest material in the product comes from FSC-certified forests, which all meet the requirements and are handled sustainably.

2) FSC Recycled: All the forest material in the product is 100% recycled. This has thus not put any other pressure on the forests.

3) FSC Mix: The product is made from a mix of materials from FSC-certified forests and recycled materials, and/or FSC-controlled wood. FSC-controlled wood does not necessarily come from FSC-certified forests, but it reduces the risk that the wood comes from unacceptable sources.

Blue sign

Bluesign is a common certification given to textile manufacturers who manufacture in a way that is safe for both people and the environment. They consider everything from water waste to dye toxicity to worker and consumer safety.

Bluesign started back in 2000 with a vision to make people in the textile industry think differently. The aim was to motivate suppliers, manufacturers and top brands to reduce their footprint - particularly with a focus on the use of chemicals.

Even before the REACH regulation was introduced, Bluesign had started on a list, the RSL (Restricted Substances List), which was supposed to provide an overview of dangerous chemicals, and thus encourage the use of better chemistry. Today, this list contains more than 900 chemical substances and about 600 banned substances.

Cradle to cradle

Cradle to Cradle Certified is an organization that focuses on the circularity of products. When certifying a product, they look at the products through five categories: Materials, health, material recycling, renewable energy and carbon management, water management and social justice. The products achieve a performance level of basic, bronze, silver, gold or platinum in each category. The overall product brand depends on the category that has the lowest level. For example, if a product is platinum level in water stewardship but only silver level in social justice, the overall level of the product will be silver.

The Cradle to Cradle certification was founded by the German chemist Michael Braungart and the American architect William McDonough back in 2002. Since then, a large number of consulting companies worldwide have been trained and approved as assessment bodies that must carry out the certification work. In Denmark, we have one consulting company, which is also the only one in the whole of the Nordic region that can carry out the certification.


ROA (Regenerative Organic Alliance) is a relatively new organization that administers the ROC (Regenerative Organic Certified) certification. ROC is a holistic agricultural certification that includes pasture-based animal welfare, fairness for farmers and workers, and robust land management requirements.

ROA was founded in 2017 in a collaboration between farmers, business leaders and experts in soil health, animal welfare and social rights.

They fight for a world free of toxic chemicals, factory farming, income inequality, land degradation, habitat destruction, pollution, short-term thinking and greenwashing.

By introducing regenerative organic practices on more farms around the world, they will create long-term solutions to the climate crisis, factory farming and broken rural economies.

Fair trade

Fairtrade International works with small farmers, producers and traders around the globe who meet strict standards. Although the specifications of these standards vary by industry, they include factors such as fair wages, safe working conditions and supply chain transparency.

Fairtrade also places great emphasis on climate solutions. Their standards set, among other things, demands on farmers that they must run climate-friendly agriculture. In addition to making demands on them, they also help and support farmers in adapting their raw material production to the more extreme weather conditions that the future is very likely to offer.

In order for a product to be Fairtrade labeled, the entire supply chain must be certified. Once it has become so, the company selling the product must enter into a license agreement in order to be allowed to use the brand on the products. All parts of the value chain are regularly inspected. This applies to everything from cultivation to harvest, processing of raw materials and until the end product is packed and labeled. Certification is carried out and maintained by FLOCERT, which is an independent control body.


OCS (Organic Content Standard) was originally developed for cotton, but later expanded to other types of textiles. When you choose a product with the OCS label, you can be sure of the textile fiber's organic origin.

OCS supplies a strict chain of custody, where everything from the organic raw material to the finished product is supervised, so that the ecology is ensured from end to end.

The OCS certification was written by Textile Exchange (originally called Organic Exchange), an international, member-supported, non-profit organization.

The certification does not have many years under its belt, as it was first established in 2018. In 2019, it was reassessed, and in 2020 it was ready with the standards that must be complied with today.

You will be able to meet two different OCS markings:

1) Organic Content Blended: When the fabric contains at least 5% organic fibres.

2) Organic Content 100: When the fabric contains at least 95% organic fibres.

So it is especially Organic Content 100 that you have to keep an eye on if you want to make a difference in terms of climate.


B-Corp certification is the only certification that measures the entire company's social and environmental impact. Overall, they look into five areas: Society, environment, customers, employees and administration. Within these areas, among other things, the company's contribution to charity and good supplier relations, as well as the company's overall mission, ethics, responsibility and transparency are examined. It looks at how the company works towards a more sustainable and regenerative planet, and whether products or services are offered that support the good cause. Employee conditions are also checked, including communication, flexibility, safety and occupational health.

Based on these areas, each company receives a B Impact score that indicates how much room there is for improvement. B Lab, which is the organization behind it, has a long-term goal of not only certifying companies, but ushering in a new economy where companies are legally required to balance purpose and profit.

The B Corp certification is a dynamic process, where B Lab checks every three years whether the requirements are still being met or whether you have improved. They make it possible for you to see if the company has improved over time, while at the same time forcing the company to keep the promise that was made to B Lab in the first place.

1% for the planet

1% for the Planet was started back in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribon Flies. The idea of ​​the project was to create a network where all companies, large and small, would have the opportunity to give something back to the nature that they take from.

As part of 1% for the Planet, you are obliged to give 1% of your gross sales to environmental protection. Precisely because it is about 1%, all companies can participate, regardless of size and turnover.

To give companies the best opportunity to give back, 1% for the Planet offers advice and helps companies find reliable non-profit organizations.

1% for the Planet certifies all donations annually to ensure that commitments are met and that each company gives what they are committed to. It costs a fee for each company to join the network. This fee is in addition to the 1% of turnover that one is obliged to donate to environmental protection.

Higg Index

The Higg Index was started back in 2019 and was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). It is a suite of tools that enables brands, retailers and facilities of all sizes - at all stages of their sustainability journey - to accurately measure the sustainability performance of their business or product.

The Higg Index provides a holistic view that allows companies to make meaningful improvements that protect the well-being of factory workers, communities and the environment.

With Higg, it will be, among other things, possible to track carbon, water, energy, social, labor impacts and much more.

SAC is currently working to develop validation programs to increase transparency and accountability.