Textile Certification: your complete guide
We are often asks about textile certification and we find that business owners and designers that value their product and are prepared to deliver a world class experience are prepared to dig deeper and learn.
Therefore we created an easy guide with all you need to know in order to choose the right fabric base for your project.
Making the world a more sustainable place with textile certification
Fashion Formula has put together a simple glossary of the top fabric certifications and standards you should be aware of for your business.
Each certification tests the fabric within its own parameter and knowing these parameters can help you pick the right fabric base for your project. This can be achieved with getting familiar with the different sustainable textile exchange standards and regulations applied to our industry.
Every textile certification looks at different elements of sustainability and safety so you need to know which one is the right one for your project.
Fabric certifications at your fingertips:
FR (Flame Resistant)
2 of the most important organic textile standards
There are two top fabric certifications that are vital to fabric production.
First on the list is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This standard guarantees a textile's sustainability.
It covers the manufacturing process, from the moment we harvest the raw material all the way through to to the final product.
A second very important textile certification standard is Oeko-tex®. There are 17 independent research and test institutes in Europe and Japan who focus on the textile and leather industries. These institutions are all involved in testing for Oeko-tex.
They support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set up by the United Nations to achieve a better and more sustainable future for the environmental and social good of the planet.
Note: Fashion Formula takes these certification standards very seriously. We believe in fair trade and supporting sustainable practices in all elements of our supply chain.
All of our fabric sourcing is from REACH-compliant mills across the world who maintain a level of quality in terms of child labour, ecological impact, and responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility and global organic textile standards
Understanding a fabric’s specifications and standards development are vital for purchasing quality textile products for your business.
There is a specific reason for each of these standards. The standards guarantee that we have followed certain rules about the fabric’s production and have met social responsibility standards.
Most importantly, if you use these certifications, the industry will trust your business.
Fashion Formula believes in a sustainable future, and we hope that you do, as well. This is why we provide credible assurance that the fabrics we offer and the printing methods we use are sustainable.
Let's be socially responsible together.
The full fabric certification list
Here is the complete UK fabric certification standards list, with explanations of exactly what each one means:
Business owners who want to reduce the risk of fire, do everything in their power to reduce it. To do this, you need to persist in using products that are certified by BS5867 Part 2 Type B and C standards.
The full fabric certification list
A Crib 5 certificate is the official document that proves that your fabric has passed the rigorous Crib 5 test.
Interestingly enough, the textile industry is not the only industry that uses the Crib 5 test. People use this test for other products made out of fabric, like furniture.
To pass UK Fire Regulations, we have three tests for fabrics and furniture.
If they pass these three tests, the fabrics are classified as Crib 5 compliant. These tests are specially designed to prevent the outbreak of fire in everyday life.
Test One: The Smouldering Cigarette Test
Fires caused by cigarettes are a huge concern in the UK. According to the London Fire Brigade, smoking is the most common cause of fire fatalities.
To pass the test, one places a lit cigarette along the crevice of a test rig created out of fabrics. The cigarette burns for its entire length.
If the rig doesn’t catch alight or smoulder, the material passes the test and it's time for you to use the second test.
Test Two: The Match Test
The match test (code number BS EN 5972) works much the same way as the smouldering cigarette test.
The way the test works is by holding a lit match alongside a crevice of the testing rig for 20 seconds before removing it.
To pass the test, no flames can appear and the fabric won't smoulder. If this is the case one can record the test: “No Ignition,”. This means that the material passes the test.
Do the first two tests. If the textile passes them, it's time for the Crib 5 test. If materials don’t pass these first two tests, they do not move on.
Test Three: Crib 5
This tests upholstery and furniture coverings. First you build a small crib-like structure. To make it, you glue wooden planks together. The crib must be five tiers high; that's how it gets its name, 'Crib 5'.
A step further is the Crib 7, tests materials for prison cells and high risk environments.
One has to attach lint and the fabric to the bottom of the Crib 5 structure. Now add a non-flammable liquid ('propanediol'). This increases absorption. Light the testing unit with a match.
You will know that the textile has passed the test if the fabric and the Crib don't catch alight or smoulder.
It's important to check the outer cover and the interior material of the crib.
If it does not ignite or smoulder, and the flames extinguish themselves within 10 minutes, the material passes the test.
Remember: different fabrics burn at different rates. From that we know that their natural fire resistance varies. You can treat many materials to stop flames from spreading.
During this test the fabrics still burns, because we treat only the back of the material.
You'll see how the treated area acts as a firewall when the flames burn through the surface of the fabric.
Flame retardant for upholstery
There are three main ways that fabric may become fire retardant. Use only fabric made from fire retardant yarns, like wool.
This is the best solution as it does not affect the drape and natural feel of the fabric.
If you're using upholstery fabric, use material treated with a fire retardant back-coating. This stiffens the fabric somewhat and makes it better for many upholstery applications.
Be aware: the fire retardant backing is not ideal for curtain use. The stiff backing affects the material's drape, you see.
A third method is available, called 'chemical dipping'. Manufacturers use it for fabrics made out of natural fibres or those that have a high proportion of natural fibres
FR (Flame Resistant)
Usually synthetic fibres are flame resistant (FR). These fabrics resist ignition under prolonged exposure to flame or heat. These FR fabrics are 'inherently flame-retardant fabrics' and don't burn.
What happens to them is that they start to melt.
The degree of inherently flame-resistant fibres within a flame-resistant fabric can vary widely from a few percent of the fibres to a full construction, depending on the manufacturer.
Trevira is a well-known trade brand name for inherently flame-retardant yarns used in many FR fabrics.
The amount of permanent flame-resistant fibres found in a flame-resistant fabric can vary widely from a few percent to 100%, depending on the manufacturer.
The EN71-3 textile certification shows whether a sample of fabric has undergone a special independent test to ensure it meets EN71-3 requirements.
With this certificate it means that the fabric has reached European safety standards.
EN71 part 3 regulation relates to the chemical properties of fabric.
Oeko-tex® certificates may well be one of the more well-known. Oeko-tex enables businesses and consumers to make responsible decisions which help to protect our planet for future generations.
The textile certification and testing (Oeko-tex label) process on which standards are based guarantees maximum consumer safety in raw material.
STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® (Oeko-tex standard 100) is a famous global certification.
It is one of the best-known labels for textiles and is used to test for harmful substances. It stands for customer confidence and high product safety.
In the Oeko-tex test they consider numerous regulated and non-regulated substances, which may be harmful to human health.
In many cases the limit values for the STANDARD 100 go beyond national and international requirements.
Therefore in order to update the criteria catalogue statutory requirements are carried out at least once a year. This happens because new scientific knowledge is too crucial to be ignored.
Therfore designers and business owners need to keep updated and refresh their knowledge on the topic.
Any respected supplier will be able to help you and inform you on the topic so don't be shy and ask away until you ensure you have the right product.
It is not easy for manufacturers and customers to keep an overview of the legal situation concerning harmful substances every day. Experts from the OEKO-TEX® institutes do this for you.
If you want to be health and safety compliant, you have to apply for a REACH registration number which is issued by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
Ask yourself, does your business use chemicals in your printing process?
If so, you will have to register these substances under EU REACH, especially if the volume of the chemical you’re using is more than 1 ton per year (t/y).
Here's an important fact: You must make sure that none of the components used in making the fabric are on the REACH list of restricted substances or on their list of very high concern (SVHC).
Consumers in the know are wary of purchasing items that don’t have these certifications.
Sedex is one of the world’s leading ethical trade organisations. They work together to help global businesses of all sizes improve their working conditions.
To become a member, all you need to do is sign up on the Sedex website.
Their comprehensive online services and tools help members to operate their business sustainably, protect their employees and source their material ethically.
Companies work together through Sedex to conduct their businesses in an ethical manner. In order to achieve this, they work on a social and an environmental level.
Around 60,000 member organisations from over 180 countries use the Sedex platform.
These organisations include several famous brands plus those renowned for their extremely high ethical standards.
The member organisations affiliated to Sedex offer support in their own countries, which include the UK, Latin America, China, Australia and the US.
The organisation’s aims are “to exchange data, manage business risk, meet compliance and drive positive impact on people”.
GOTS is the worldwide leading textile certification for organic fibres in the textile production, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
It is a standard that ensures that nobody has used harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process.
There is no denying that environmental issues and safety are on the top of the list for certification.
What GOTS textile certification takes into account as well is the farmer's working conditions.
This is why it's one of our favourite certifications.
This common textile standard shows that textile processors and manufacturers can export their fabrics and garments.
All major markets accept the textile's global organic certification.
As a matter of fact, consumers are able to choose truly organic products sourced from green supply chains.
Workers check the fabric to ensure no chemicals are being used. They firstly ensure it is safe for humans and then they ensure that it doesn't affect animal welfare.
And they insist on ensuring that farmers’ working conditions are decent.
GOTS sets the standard for fabric processors, manufacturers and suppliers which is why it is the most important textile exchange certification body in the world. When a fabric receives GOTS certification, it’s guaranteed as organic and can be exported.
Every major global market accepts this certification. GOTS ensures that products are sourced from a green supply chain.
Interestingly, you can still source organic fabrics that have not been certified by GOTS.
Many of the Fashion Formula fabrics are GOTS organic certified. See our fabric list for the latest specifications. We print all the cottons we manufacture with inks that are certified to meet GOTS 6.0 regulations.
REPREVE is the world's leading recycled fibre made for the good of tomorrow.
Billions of plastic bottles go into landfills every year. Now we can do something about this.
REPREVE is the top, most trusted, branded performance fibre made from recycled materials (including plastic bottles).
GRS, which stands for the Global Recycle Standard, is an international organisation. It offers over 200 different certification programmes.
Their focus is on setting a global, voluntary ethical standard on the recycled content of a company’s products.
These certifications cover your company's recycled goods in other ways, too.
They focus on good working conditions and offer certain chemical restrictions. This is to decrease the risk of contamination.
GRS covers over 50 companies including those involved that manufacture products that require spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing, ginning and stitching.
The GRS network is based in over 70 countries worldwide.
Fabric durability testing
There are many hundreds of tests you can use to test fabric under different conditions. These include washing, light exposure, pilling, yarn strength, stretch etc.
We have prepared a short summary of the main ones that will affect your selection of fabrics depending on your project needs.
Light fastness 1-7
Lightfastness is a property of a colourant (a dye or pigment). To determine if the dye will fade, the fabric is tested and exposed to light.
We use dyes and pigments to dye fabrics, plastics and other materials. And we use dyes and pigments to manufacture paints and printing inks.
You can bleach the colour of a textile if you use a special process that involves ultraviolet radiation. This alters the chemical structure of the molecules and colours the item.
The name of the particular molecule that changes the colour is the 'chromophore'.
Here's an important note: when a painted surface comes into contact with light, it changes or breaks the pigment's chemical bonds.
This causes the colours to bleach or change in a process known as photodegradation.
To call a fabric 'lightfast', it must not react to this effect. The electromagnetic spectrum of the sun contains wavelengths from gamma waves to radio waves.
The high energy of ultraviolet radiation accelerates the fading of the dye.
For certifying textiles, we measure lightfastness by exposing a sample to a light source for a predefined period. Then we compare it to an unexposed sample.
The Martindale is a unit for quantifying the abrasion resistance of textiles. So we use it particularly to test upholstery.
People often call the Martindale method 'the Martindale rub test'.
This tests copies the natural wear of a seat cover by rubbing the textile sample against a standard abrasive surface with a particular force.
One works the test in intervals of 5,000 cycles, totalling the wear number (unit: Martindale) of abrasion cycles that leads to the material being worn to a specified degree.
The higher the value, the more resistant the material is to abrasion.
Washing or soaping fastness refers to the degree of the colour change of dyed fabric after washing with a washing liquid.
Usually, one uses a grey graded sample card as the evaluation standard. What this means is that one measures the colour difference between the original sample and the faded sample.
All the fabric we use at Fashion Formula has been sourced from REACH-compliant mills across the world who maintain a level of quality in terms of child labour, ecological impact, and responsibility.
Now it's time to visit our website and discover our base fabrics.