The Global Organic Cotton Standard resulted from the cooperation of four different international organizations, which combined their respective expertise in organic farming and environmentally friendly and socially responsible textile processing in the GOTS. The first version of the GOTS was published in 2005.
The GOTS was developed for all natural fibres, and not only cotton, to which the was at first gladly reduced. It can be applied to all plant and animal natural fibres that have been certified organically produced. At a high level, it defines environmental requirements along the entire textile production chain and also demands compliance with social criteria. In concrete terms, this means that the standard covers the production, making up, packaging, labelling, trade and distribution of all textiles that consist of at least 70 percent controlled organically produced natural fibres. The recognised international or national organic cultivation standards apply to the organic certification of the fibres. Fibres may also be used that were obtained during the conversion phase from conventional to organic production.
Like most other standards, the GOTS is subject to regular audits and revisions. The GOTS version 6.0 was released in March 2020. In this version, the social requirements for production companies were further tightened. For example, certified companies now have to calculate and document the difference between wages actually paid and living wages (according to recognised calculation methods). In addition, they should work towards closing this gap. New possibilities have also arisen with regard to permitted fibre blends. In the meantime, regenerated fibres such as Lyocell or recycled synthetic fibres such as recycled polyester may also be contained in the material in defined mixing ratios. The maximum proportion is 10 percent for Lyocell and 30 percent for recycled polyester.
In principle, only textile products can be awarded a GOTS label if they consist of at least 70 percent organically produced natural fibres. The GOTS label used here then bears the text: "Made from x percent organic/kbt fibres". The abbreviation kbA stands for controlled organic cultivation, organic farming for controlled organic animal husbandry.
As soon as a product consists of at least 95 percent certified organically produced natural fibres, it may carry the GOTS label "kbA/kbT" or "Bio" or "organic" without having to indicate a percentage.