The landscape of the fashion industry is full of tools that can provide clarity for customers and businesses on whether products are produced sustainably and fairly for all humans and/or animals involved. As the industry continues to improve and more and more initiatives are created, this can lead to a bit of chaos and might make it difficult to understand what can really be a trusted certification. The certification providers and auditors we work with are all well-established and have been working to create transparency for years already. 

To give you a bit of an overview, here is a short rundown. Please note that the certifications we hold are not exhaustive and there are other ways for a brand or factory to produce and sell sustainable and fairly produced clothes, especially as a small brand there are certain memberships that are simply not available to us, but we feel proud of the level of monitoring and certifying that occurs in our supply chains right now as this has been growing over the past few years. 


Textile Exchange certifications

Textile Exchange is a global non-profit entirely dedicated to certifying the sustainability of raw materials in the fashion industry. Their certifications are widely used & trusted and we work with them as the cotton we buy in, as well as some of the recycled materials we use, hold their certifications. 


To be able to verify if raw material in a clothing item lives up to a certain sustainable standard, a brand needs to provide the certificate that states this. There are two types of certificates: transaction certificates and scope certificates. Scope certificates are given out to production facilities and they state that this facility has been checked & certified to work with materials that live up to the certifications’ standards. A transaction certificate shows that a brand or supplier has bought these materials and that these materials were once again checked and verified to be in line with the certification. 


For our materials, we work with two certifications: the Organic Content Standard (OCS) and the Global Recycled Standard (GRS). The OCS verifies the percentage of organically grown material and tracks it from source to final product. There are the “OCS blended” and the OCS100 certifications, we hold both certifications for different products in our collection. Products certified to the OCS 100 contain at least 95% certified organically grown content and Products certified to the OCS Blended contain between 5-94% certified organically grown content. 


In our case, when products are certified according to the OCS Blended, the products will often contain some percentage of recycled cotton or polyester in them, leading us to the second certification that we work with: the Global Recycled Standard. Products certified to the GRS contain recycled material that has been verified at each stage of the supply chain, from the recycler to the final product.



ZDHC is a large industry-for-industry initiative focussed on eliminating harmful chemicals from supply chains and supporting the development and adoption of sustainable chemical management across many different levels of production. They have formulated a ‘Manufacturing Restricted Substances List’ (ZDHC MSRL), which is used to inform production facilities of which substances are the most harmful and should be banned from production. Furthermore, the ZDHC provides similar guidelines on wastewater management which shows how minimisation of wastewater creation can be obtained, how wastewater should be treated, and how it should be disposed of.


Then, facilities that use chemicals in their production can also be checked on their conformance levels with the ZDHC MSRL. This is thus only necessary for our dye and chemical production factories. The conformance is determined with three levels. Levels 1-3 indicate a confidence rating in how responsible manufacturing practices and consistent conformance to the MSRL guideline will be upheld. At level 1 the focus is on analytical evaluation: substances need to have been reviewed according to a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for information relevant to the guideline and the formulation was tested, which included a screening and analytical testing, or just analytical testing. Level 2 means that the onsite assessment of management systems conforms to the guideline. Level 3 indicates a capability for chemical hazard assessment. The levels stack and level 3 is thus the highest level to be obtained. 

Please note that ZDHC does not provide certifications, however membership to their program does indicate that a facility is (in the process of) managing chemical use sustainably.  


REACH regulation

The REACH regulation was formulated by the European Union and concerns all products containing chemicals that are bought and sold, as well as imported into the EU. The regulation considers itself with the registration & use of chemicals, the hazard assessment of chemicals, and the production of chemicals, the last specifically with a focus on reducing animal testing. 

The scope of REACH is wide and even though our production facilities are located far outside of the European Union, under this regulation Honest Basics is considered an importer of finished products that were produced with some chemicals and thus we have a responsibility to provide full transparency on which chemicals were used and what for. The main thing that is important here is that our production facilities have a SVHC list, which is a list of Substances of Very High Concern, and that this is confirmed to be with REACH regulation (which it is!). 


Higg FEM

Higg FEM is a measurement tool to assess the impact manufacturing facilities have on the environment. It looks into energy use, water use, waste management, chemical management and overall environmental management systems to ascertain what the overall impact of a facility is, as well as provide stepping stones towards improvement. 


The tool works according to a self-assessment which facilities fill out themselves yearly, after which an independent verifier will come and check the report and the facility is scored. Through close contact with our production facilities we have found that this tool is very useful as it requires a continuous monitoring and evaluation cycle which means we are constantly working on environmental impact improvement. 



The Social & Labor Convergence Program has an assessment tool, the Converged Assessment Framework, which is used to measure the working conditions in factories and provide guidance to improve them. We use the assessment tool within the Higg module, where it is called FSLM. Like the Higg FEM, our factories conduct a self-assessment on a range of questions, looking into recruitment processes, working hours, wages, worker treatment & involvement, health & safety, and management systems.


Most of these themes are scored to give an assessment which the facility can then use to provide a guideline for improvement. However, some issues are considered zero-tolerance, such as child labour, forced labour, and certain kinds of discrimination. After this self-assessment an independent verifier will come and check the report and score the facility on how good the working conditions are. 



Another social oriented verification method, the Amfori BSCI system is an audit methodology measuring factories on 13 social performance areas. An auditor from the organisation visits the facility and will score the facility across a range of questions, concerning social management systems, workers protection & involvement, the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, fair remuneration, working hours, health & safety, and protection of the environment. There are also some zero-tolerance areas here, specifically concerning child labour and young workers, precarious employment, bonded labour, and human trafficking. Amfori BSCI also provides guidance based on the scoring for how a facility can improve its conditions in the future.