In the 80s, a number of German producers of eco-friendly textiles met under the umbrella of „Bundesverband Naturkost“ (National association for organic food produce). This association was impractical for textile producers longterm because a) it worked almost exclusively with foodstuffs and b) retailers and mailorder companies began to specialize in eco-fashion as opposed to integrating fashion into organic food stores. In response, 4 businesses in the eco-fashion industry founded ArbeitsKreisNaturtextil (AKN) in 1989. At its onset, the most important goal of this working group was to establish clear and transparent standards defining eco-textiles along the entire production chain.
The work of this small association of producers, later grown to 12 members, earned the respect of the entire industry. The group opened its membership to allow access for persons and businesses active in other levels of textile production and became an umbrella organization for the entire eco-textile business. The „Internationale Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft e. V.“ (IVN) was founded in 1999. Members now represent all levels of textile production, from fiber production to retailer, and even include private individuals as supporting members.
Since 2000 the IVN awards the 2-tiered quality seal „NATURTEXTIL“. It is the first quality seal worldwide which addresses all levels of textile production and includes social standards.
In 2001 the IVN Guidelines Committee began its work defining a standard for eco-friendly leather. In 2008 the first businesses applied for certification by this standard.. We estimate that the first qualifying products should be available on the market in 2009.
In 2002 IVN became founding and leading member of the "International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard“ (IWG) , achieving a unification of previously nationally divergent standards for the production of eco-friendly textiles. Other members of this group include the Soil Association (England), the Organic Trade Association (USA) and the Japan Organic Cotton Association (Japan). The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) offers consumers everywhere a verifiable worldwide standard for eco-friendly quality and reduces international trade barriers for the eco-friendly textile industry.
In 2007 the first GOTS business certifications were awarded by IWG. At present, more than 1500 businesses all over the world have been inspected on the basis of GOTS.
In 2008 GOTS established its own trademark and the first GOTS certified products came to market.