The language of sustainability is constantly evolving and open to interpretation - which makes it difficult to understand, opens it up to misinformation and unfortunately, greenwashing.
‘Sustainability’ to one company could mean biodegradable packaging, for another it could mean ethical working conditions or using only natural fibres. For us, it means all of these things and more.
At Marle, we acknowledge that we’re not perfect but we are always honest about the actions we take and optimistic about the future we are helping to create.
To ensure our customers understand our intentions, we have defined what some of the commonly used ‘sustainable’ terms mean to us and created this glossary of fashion related terms and certifications that are relevant to us. As always, we encourage any feedback, suggestions or conversation.
Accountability means taking responsibility and in the context of fashion, it means companies must identify, assess and measure the impact of their activities on people and the planet.
Acrylic is made from synthetic polymer, meaning it is made from either petroleum or coal-based chemicals. The manufacturing process is a huge cause of pollution and one of the key elements of acrylic is acrylonitrile, a carcinogen that can cause issues for your health. While widely used in fashion, Marle does not use acrylic of any kind.
Plant-based, animal-based and natural mineral-based products are usually biodegradable which means they can decompose down into carbon, nitrogen, water and other naturally occurring elements in the open environment or in a compost, leaving no toxic residues. This process may take months or years depending on the product. At Marle, we use natural fibres and fabrics, making our garments biodegradable - what comes from the earth, returns from it.
Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) supports companies to drive social compliance and improvements within factories and farms throughout their supply chain. Our factories are either BSCI or WRAP Certified (or both).
Compostable products break down quite quickly in a compostable environment and leave behind a nutrient rich organic material. Compostable products are specifically made up of organic matter and are something that can decompose down into carbon, nitrogen, water and other naturally occurring elements within a compost, leaving no toxic residues. Composting can be done at home using traditional composting methods, and many countries also have commercial composting initiatives. All of our packaging at Marle includes compostable garment bags, recyclable cardboard bags and compostable courier bags.
Circular fashion is a regenerative system in which products and materials are kept in use for as long as possible, (things like renting, reusing, repairing, redesigning and reselling), and where natural, systems are regenerated.
Carbon Offsetting / Credits
Carbon Offsetting means an organisation calculates how much Carbon Dioxide it is responsible for emitting into the atmosphere to run their business. They then ‘offset’ their emissions by purchasing carbon credits which are sold per 1 tonne of Carbon Dioxide stored.
Defined as any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting from a facility’s activities, products or services. Put simply, it’s the effect that people’s actions have on the environment.
A model of mass-produced, trend-driven clothing that is produced quickly and cheaply to meet consumer demand. It is one of the reasons fashion has become one of the largest polluters in the world and is the antithesis of what Marle believes in.
Something that is more common than not where brands use the sustainability terms incorrectly to suggest their product is better for the environment than it is. Greenwashing involves businesses making claims about doing good ie, this tag is made from recycled plastic bottles while continuing to pollute or degrade the environment in many other ways.
Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS)
GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. GOTS certified final products may include fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes, home textiles as well as mattresses, personal hygiene products, food contact textiles and more.
Marle organic cotton pieces are either GOTS or OCS Certified.
Global Recycled Standard
The GRS is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices and chemical restrictions.
The GRS is intended to meet the needs of companies looking to verify the recycled content of their products (both finished and intermediate) and to verify responsible social, environmental and chemical practices in their production. The objectives of the GRS are to define requirements to ensure accurate content claims and good working conditions, and that harmful environmental and chemical impacts are minimised. This includes companies in ginning, spinning, weaving and knitting, dyeing and printing and stitching in more than 50 countries. Our factories are aligned with this standard.
In Stock Fabrics
In Stock fabrics are those which are already made and are sitting in a mill. At Marle, we select in stock fabrics to help reduce any unnecessary production. There is also ‘Deadstock’ which is the result of brands over ordering fabric or textile mills over producing. Using In Stock or repurposing deadstock fabric means nothing new is needed to be made (or wasted).
Our Marle knitwear is made to the specifications meaning there is low to no waste.
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that result from both commercial product development and the breakdown of larger plastics, including polyester. As a pollutant, microplastics are harmful to the environment and animal health.
Made from petroleum, nylon fabric is often given a permanent chemical finish that may be harmful to both human health and the environment. Marle does not use nylon of any kind.
The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is an international, voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of certified organic input and chain of custody. The goal of the OCS is to increase organic agriculture production, to provide the industry with a tool to verify the organically grown content of the products they purchase, provide companies with a trusted tool to communicate organically grown content claims to the industry and to provide organic fibre farmers with broad access to the global organic market for their products.
All Marle organic cotton is either GOTS or OCS Certified.
Oeko-Tex is a registered trademark, representing the product labels and company certifications issued and other services provided by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology (Oeko-Tex for short).
The Oeko-Tex Association issues the product-related label Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex Oeko-Tex label, amongst others, of which some Marle products are labelled. The certification confirms the human-ecological safety of textile products and leather articles from all stages of production (raw materials and fibres, yarns, fabrics, ready to use end products) along the textile value chain. Majority of our knitwear and silk pieces carry this certification.
Is grown with water from rainfall, which reduces pressure on local water sources. It's non-GMO and grown without man-made fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)
The Responsible Wool Standard is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on.It provides the industry with a tool to recognise the best practices of farmers, ensures that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic respect for animal welfare of the sheep and respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare.
Polyester is still unfortunately the most used fabric for apparel and textiles worldwide. It's a synthetic fabric made from petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemical products. It is responsible for the global plastic waste and microfibre pollution that endangers ecosystems, marine life, land wildlife and human health. It can take thousands of years to decompose and while recycled polyester is a more environmentally friendly option in that it decreases the impact on air, land and water, it still contributes to the pollution of the ocean through microfibres. When washing polyester (virgin or recycled) plastic particles wash off and make up approximately a third of the primary plastic that pollutes our oceans. Marle does not use polyester of any kind.
Rayon is a fibre derived from wood pulp. It is usually associated with deforestation and is made through a chemically-intensive process harmful to people and the planet.
Marle does not use Rayon (or rayon blends) of any kind.
Shokay is a sustainable textiles company best known for using yak wool to develop premium products, from fibre to finished garments. With a fully traceable supply chain, Shokay sources directly from Tibetan herders and partners with like-minded manufacturers along the supply chain. All of our yak wool is sourced through this partnership.
We believe our production should positively impact every person in our supply chain. A garment passes through many hands to come to fruition and we love the craftsmanship and beauty this brings to our clothing. Those people deserve to be taken care of, to feel safe in their workplace and to have job security - just like our staff at head office in New Zealand.
We value our suppliers and our relationships with them. We know our suppliers first-hand - that closeness is what helps us create clothing with incredible quality that we are proud of. We cherish our relationships with our factories, and that daily communication and regular face-to-face visits keeps us confident in their practices. Prior to Covid 19, we visited our factories regularly in China in person.
Our knitwear factory is Gold WRAP certified and our two main suppliers have signed our in-house Code of Compliance and are also BSCI certified. These audits are done independently to ensure best practice. We are extremely proud of our relationships and learn from our sustainably-minded suppliers and factories. One of our factories uses solar power and has beautiful trees planted within their factory grounds.
Sustainable / Sustainability
A term used to describe everything relating to ‘being sustainable’. What is considered sustainable differs between industries and businesses with no clear definition. At Marle, we approach sustainability from an environmental, social and economic perspective and believe it to be consciously meeting the needs of our business without compromising the ability of future generations or our environment.
Traceability is the capability to trace something and at Marle, it means being able to track every step of the sourcing and manufacturing process, from raw materials through to final products being shipped.
Cashmere is prized for its softness, lightness, and excellent insulating properties. How your cashmere is produced matters and at Marle, we offer the finest, quality cashmere that has been controlled at every point of the manufacturing stage. Traceable cashmere relies on meticulous record-keeping and full transparency from farm to finished garment. Our yarn mill is affiliated with Traceable Cashmere.
The practice of sharing information about our business, our fabrics, how and where our designs are made. At Marle, we choose not to list our suppliers in order to keep our IP protected and confidential.
The definition is ‘containing or being poisonous material, especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation’. In fashion, toxic primarily relates to toxic chemicals including dyes, formaldehydes and carcinogens which can affect both humans and our environment. It’s important to note that the poison is in the dose so it’s a term that does unfortunately attract a lot of greenwashing.
ZQ is operated by the New Zealand Merino Company and is recognised by ISO/IEC 17065:2012 standard. ZQ Certified wool guarantees sustainably farmed, ethical, quality qool and ZQ growers and brand partners alike are committed to protecting the environment as well as animals and people. Our Perino yarn is ZQ Certified. You can read more about ZQ here.