Do You Know What’s in Your Clothes?



Over the years, consumers have become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, and of the environmental and human costs associated with fast fashion. This has motivated more companies to incorporate eco-friendly terminology into their branding. However, sustainability in branding does not always equate to sustainability in practice; often, it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy or form of greenwashing used to convince consumers that the company cares about people and the environment.

Using vague terms like “ethical,” “sustainable,” “organic,” “vegan,” or “eco-friendly” without specific information about their business practices does a disservice to consumers and the clothing industry at large, because it creates confusion around what these terms really mean.

Katrina Caspelich, chief marketing officer for Remake, a global nonprofit organization advocating for fair pay and climate justice in the clothing industry, has explained that, “There really is no industry agreed-upon or legal definition of sustainability. As a result, brands are really defining sustainability based on their own interpretations in order to justify salary, growth and profit.”

A lot of companies don’t even know everything that goes on in their own supply chains, and it paints a rather murky picture.

“Long, complex and delocalised supply chains, fragmented over different continents, make it difficult for fashion brands to closely monitor their operations. Companies often don’t fully understand the true social and environmental impacts of their business practices due to a lack of visibility along the supply chain. The absence of transparency in fashion supply chains hinders progress, as what’s not measured can’t be fixed” (Sustainable Brand Platform).

Transparency is crucial for companies to truly understand the social and environmental impacts of their products, how they can become better, and to honestly inform customers about what goes into the products they are buying. 

Navigating the murkiness of greenwashing

Established third party certifications have played an important role in creating international standards and giving shoppers confidence in what they’re buying.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), for example, was developed to define world-wide recognized requirements for organic textiles– from the cultivation of raw material to manufacturing and labeling.

FLO-CERT Fair Trade is another important certification, created to “change the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.”

Our commitment to transparency

At Under the Nile, we are committed to upholding the highest standards for cotton harvesting, manufacturing, and production. Under the Nile by SEKEM was the first baby clothing company in the US to become GOTS certified, and our farm and factory in Egypt are Fair Trade certified. Each step of the process is managed and overseen by SEKEM.

In partnership with the Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA), SEKEM developed impacTrace, which provides details about our products– from the farmers that grew the cotton and the wages they earned, to how the cotton was processed and sewn, to the product’s total environmental impact. We are striving to give customers insight into every aspect of production, from cotton to closet.

Customers can already find these details through impacTrace for our Baby Bodies and Dolls and Cuddly Toys, with more to come for our other products. We hope to lead the way in increasing transparency and consistency in the textile industry, with products consumers can trust.