Friday 29 November 2019


From summer fashion staples to autumn wardrobe additions: the global standards that shape the quality of the clothes we wear were agreed in Liverpool last month.

And sustainable fashion was high on the agenda for the heads of the 18 global testing institutes who gathered in the city for a two-day event to set the quality standards for fashion and textiles.

Lancashire testing company and ASBCI members, Shirley Technologies hosted the annual event, which takes place in a different country each year. With its history in the cotton trade, Liverpool made for an obvious choice for this year’s event, and managing director Stephen Donnelly explains more about the initiative:

“We are part of a global group, OEKO-TEX, made up of 18 independent textiles and leather research and testing institutes from across the world,” he says. “These 18 organisations are jointly responsible for developing the testing methods for textiles that are used by global manufacturers to make clothing, personal protective equipment, workwear, home furnishings and accessories. The testing methods form the basis of the global standards that protect consumers and the environment and make sure manufacturers are operating within the law.

For example, we will look at how the fabric used in a garment reacts when it comes into contact with the skin, whether washing releases chemicals into the water and whether the chemicals in that garment fall within the allowable limits.”

Stephen says that an area of significant interest and discussion this year was the ‘Made in Green’ label, a traceable product label for all kinds of textiles, from clothing to home furnishings and accessories. The Made in Green label verifies that an article has been tested for harmful substances and guarantees that it has been manufactured using sustainable processes under environmentally friendly and socially responsible working conditions.

A unique product ID on the label means that consumers can trace the countries and production facilities in which the article was produced, something Stephen says is becoming increasingly important to consumers.

“People are moving away from fast fashion and looking for other sustainable and ethically produced clothing,” he says. “We are seeing a rise in the number of ethical clothing brands, and many of the major fashion brands are keen to prove their ethical credentials to consumers, and it’s important that there are stringent tests and checks in place to test those credentials. 

“It is our job as a group to make sure that the testing process is suitably rigorous to give consumers reassurance that the clothing they buy is safe to wear and has been manufactured ethically.

“We are also responsible for setting the allowable limits of chemicals within textiles, and each year we review the quality standards based on guidance from global working groups to see if and where adjustments need to be made to help clothing manufacturers continue to improve the quality of their products.”

OEKO-TEX partners are located in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, France, Hungry, Poland, Greece, Austria, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovakia and Japan.

Photo shows the general managers of the global OEKO-TEX testing institutes at Liverpool Cathedral during the two-day conference held in the city.

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