It originated as part of a collaboration between four different international organizations. They pooled their expertise in ecological agriculture and environmentally friendly and socially responsible textile processing into the GOTS. The first version of the GOTS was published in 2005, with multiple updates since then.
Although the Global Organic Cotton Standard is primarily known as a label for the certification of organic cotton, in reality it is applicable to all organically produced plant and animal-based natural fibers. Synthetically manufactured fibers made of regenerative raw materials, such as viscose and lyocell, cannot be certified, however.
The standard uses environmentally friendly and socially responsible criteria to certify a product’s entire production process, from the production of the original fibers up to the end product, including the supply chain. The social standards to not taking into account living wage, however.
Video: What the Global Organic Cotton Standard is all about
Global Organic Cotton Standard: Labeling for Consumer Products
In the most general sense, only textile products that are made up of at least 70 percent organically produced natural fiber can receive a GOTS label. Beyond that, there are two label tiers.
"Produced from x percent certified organic fibers": This GOTS label tier requires at least 70 percent certified organic natural fibers, including both plant and animal farming.
No more than ten percent synthetic fibers may be used. Stockings, leggings and athletic wear may contain up to 25 percent synthetic fibers.
"Organic": This GOTS label tier requires at least 95 percent certified organically produced natural fibers. The components and accessories used are exempted.