The Aid by Trade Foundation’s (AbTF) program for ethically sourced and sustainable cashmere named the first recipients of The Good Cashmere Standard (GCS) certification on Wednesday.
Created in 2019 in collaboration with animal welfare specialists and independent cashmere production experts, the GCS aims to ensure the well-being of cashmere goats, improve working conditions for the farmers who tend to them, and protect the environment in which they live.
Eight cashmere farmers in Inner Mongolia have been certified, the group said in a statement, based on requirements set by the foundation and assessed by a third-party auditing group called Elevate.
The recipients own 4,000 farms collectively across the region, housing an estimated 1.3 million cashmere goats. Erdos, the world’s largest cashmere supplier, was a recipient of the certification.
“We can now provide the textile industry with 500 tons of certified cashmere wool, thereby making our first important contribution to improving sustainability in the cashmere industry,” AbTF executive director Tina Stridde said.
To pass Elevate’s stringent verification process, each farm is required to provide a self-assessment that addresses more than 50 questions about their business. Farmers must also meet social, environmental and animal welfare criteria.
Should they be awarded the GCS distinction, producers are authorized to label their products using the group’s seal. Certifications are reviewed on an annual basis and reissued only if farmers complete the verification process again.
AbTF is currently developing training material for farmers and producers that will leverage the results of the self-assessments and verifications.
“We can build on our years of experience with Cotton made in Africa,” Stridde said, referring to AbTF’s initiative to help farmers will small operations in Africa bring their goods to a mainstream market, improving economic conditions in their communities.
Training materials are necessary for the successful implementation of a standard, she added.
“Overall, the verifications painted a positive picture of the situation on the ground, but some areas still require improvement,” she said, pointing to the quality of goat shelters, or the need for more consistent record-keeping of farm activities.
“We are working with our partners and animal welfare experts to develop training material and to find out what else will help the farmers to implement the criteria of the GCS even better,” she said.
Brands like Peter Hahn, Bestseller, H&M Group, Hugo Boss, J. Crew, Lacoste, Madewell, Miles, and Wünsche Group have already received GCS certification, she said.