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Top 7 Best Use of Certifications


The sustainable fashion community is host to a number of companies that do some great work trying to make the industry a more honest and socially responsible place. The retraced editorial team wanted to share some of our favorite examples with you! 😃

"Best in Class"is a new blog series where we highlight some exemplary examples of companies implementing a variety of transparency and sustainability initiatives. This week, we wanted to show the power of certifications. Partnerships with autonomous certification bodies are a valuable asset to reduce your environmental footprint and increase your positive social impact. With many different standards out there, it can be hard to understand what they entail. In this post, we share some of our favorite brands (in no particular order) with certifications that are useful, transparent, and well-communicated.

1. Veja

Sustainable sneaker frontrunner VEJA is built on the notion of fair trade. For the French brand, Fairtrade means working directly with producers and cutting out the middleman. VEJA purchases cotton and rubber directly from producers in Brazil, where it signs long-term contracts, pre-finances 40% of the harvest, and sets a market-decorrelated price to ensure equitable and dignified commercial transactions. All leather for the iconic sneakers come from tanneries Gold certified by the Leather Working Group. Moreover, all of VEJA's cotton has exclusively been certified organic since the day it was launched. The company's positive global impact is deemed so significant, that it's now a certified B Corp. Listen to Veja's full story here.

White leather and black canvas sneakers by Veja

image by Veja

2. prAna

prAna wants to help improve the lives of the people who make our clothing. One way the premium lifestyle clothing brand does this is with certification programs. prAna’s Fair Trade Certified™ program has given back over $400,000 to more than 33,000 workers around the world. The Californian company is also committed to keeping our oceans and skies free from harmful chemicals. Since 2012, it has worked with bluesign®-systems to drive sustainable textile production by managing harmful substances from the very start with high chemical usage standards. Any organic content claim is certified with the Organic Content Standard (OCS) or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and any down used is certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to protect the geese and duck providing the down.

Female and male model wearing prAna clothing

Image from prAna

3. Pact

Pact aims to be a one-stop-shop where consumers can find organic alternatives that fit their lifestyle, to make doing good easy (check out this video with Pact's vision). Using only organic fabrics and Fair Trade factories, Pact is a great option for stylish essentials. Pact's factory is certified by Fair Trade USA. The Fair Trade program requires an additional premium which is directly paid back to workers, where a democratic process dictates how those funds are invested. Further, it gives community development support for the families of the farmers and factory workers. The organic cotton used is all GOTS certified.

Curly-haired woman wearing white vest top and green trousers by Pact

Image from Pact


TOMS' one for one business model has inspired many. But apart from giving shoes and grants to people in need, TOMS wants to create positive change in every aspect of its business. By working with certification bodies, the American B-Corp ensures responsible raw-material sourcing. The Leather Working Group certifies TOMS' leather manufacturing facilities based on environmental performance, e.g. water and energy use, air emissions, and waste. Furthermore, TOMS is committed to Canopy's conservation standards to source all wood-based material from sustainably managed forests. Learn more about this in the TOMS 2019 impact report.

Woman wearing yellow TOMS slip-ons in the grass

Image from TOMS

5. J. Crew

J. Crew is well-known for button-ups and chinos, but the company is doing more than just creating classic apparel pieces. The American retailer wants to do good for the planet and the people making its products. That's why it has invested heavily in organizations that helped achieve that mission. J. Crew partners with mills and factories that are environmentally responsible. Think of LEED-certified Saitex, which uses renewable energy and recycled water and Fair Trade suppliers, to ensure that workers are treated well and empowered economically. Moreover, the company works with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and the non-profit body Textile Exchange to be certified for standards such as the Responsible Wool Standard (RSD). The company's next goal? Sustainably sourcing 100% of its cotton by 2025.

Barefoot woman sitting on the beach in J. Crew clothing

Image from J. Crew

6. Allbirds

Allbirds is an innovative shoe brand dedicated to making the most sustainable footwear it can, using the world’s best natural materials. Therefore, the company works with leading organizations like ZQ Merino (check out their cool video here) to ensure that all wool used is certified and held to high environmental and animal welfare standards. Besides that, this sustainable brand is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means that the certified B-corp sources materials that meet strict standards to protect forests, and the animals and people who depend on them.

Male wearing high-top Allbirds sneakers on a cobblestone street

Image from Allbirds

7. Madewell

Madewell aims to give back to the people who make its clothes and has committed to a better future together with Fair Trade USA. Wanting to make well-made staple pieces, the clothing company knows that high-quality, ethical fibers are of the utmost importance. In addition to being certified by the Responsible Down Standard, Madewell is a member of Textile Exchange's Responsible Cashmere Round Table and is one of the first U.S. retailers to have joined the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA). Read more about their commitments in their Animal Welfare report.

Woman wearing blue dotted jumper and yellow skirt by Madewell

Image from Madewell

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