At COS, we believe in investing in the now to design for the future. That’s why we are committed to sourcing quality materials that will have less impact on the environment.
So far in 2023, 93% of the base fabrics in our collection are more sustainably sourced, according to our Material Environmental Benchmark. We’re also working towards making all the trims we use more sustainable, too. Our goal? To use only 100% sustainably sourced or recycled materials by 2025.
There are all kinds of fabrics in our collections that are more sustainably sourced, and we highlight these so you can make considered choices when you shop.
Organic materials are grown from organic seeds, which have not been genetically modified in any way. The cultivation process requires no synthetic fertilisers, protecting both our planet and its people.
We’re also exploring new technologies and production methods, such as processes that use less water and regenerative organic farming that prioritises restoring soil health to help fight climate change.
*Though this figure is lower than in previous years, this season we are introducing more responsibly sourced fibres into our collection. Watch this space for regenerative cotton and greenhouse-grown cotton by Materra.
These days, organic cotton is a familiar fibre for most of us. It’s grown from organic seeds, which have not been genetically modified in any way. The cultivation process requires no synthetic fertilisers and soil conservation is an important part.
Hemp fibres comes from the hemp plant. This plant requires relatively less water to cultivate and can produce large amounts of fibre per yield. It also releases nutrients back into the land around it. Organic hemp takes this one step further. It’s made from seeds that have not been genetically modified and is created without the use of harmful chemicals or fertilisers.
On average it takes three years for a farm to convert conventional cotton to organic cultivation – during this period, farms follow the same principles of organic farming. With an ambition of supporting more farmers to transition to organic and supporting organic production scaleup, we have introduced in-conversion cotton to our sustainable cotton portfolio.
This fibre is coming soon...
Organic silk is a more responsible alternative to making conventional silk through traditional methods. The silkworms are fed mulberry tree leaves from organic agriculture that uses no pesticides or harmful chemicals.
Compared to conventional farming practices, Regenerative Organic Certified® cotton farms adopt traditional organic agricultural practices by establishing a farm management system that works in harmony with nature. Practices like pasture-based systems, organic bio inputs, cover cropping, intercropping, low soil tillage and more are implemented to flourish the biodiversity and restore the health of soil by improving the organic content over time. Healthy soil traps carbon, and sequesters it back into the soil, which could help mitigate climate change. Holistic regenerative systems also extend to the humane treatment of animals and social equity through the provision of fair conditions and healthcare for all farmers and workers involved.
Currently our first pilot of Regenerative Organic Certified® cotton farming in India, Madhya Pradesh, has achieved the Bronze level of certification and with a long-term commitment we aim to scale its certification to Silver and Gold levels in the future, with continuous improvement in the farm management systems.
Responsibly sourced materials cover three areas: the environment, animal welfare and social responsibility. We partner with independent certification programs to bring you ethical and responsibly sourced materials that are fully traceable.
We’re proud to source our cashmere through the Good Cashmere Standard by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF). This independent standard works to source traceable, sustainably certified cashmere that cares for the wellbeing of cashmere goats, protects the environment and supports the herders that produce it.
RWS wool is certified according to the Responsible Wool Standard – a voluntary standard within the Textile Exchange that protects the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on.
Mohair certified according to the Responsible Mohair Standard uses fibres from farms where the goats are treated using humane practices and the environment they live in is protected. RMS is a voluntary standard within the Textile Exchange.
RAS alpaca is made using fibres from farms certified according to the Responsible Alpaca Standard. This is a voluntary standard within the Textile Exchange that makes sure the alpacas are treated using humane practices and the land they live in is protected.
Yak wool comes from domestic yak animals, who feed from grass rather than grass root, which reduces their impact on the environment. Sourced from the highest plateau in the world – the Himalayan regions – our traceable yak wool provides transparency at every level of the supply chain.
Pieces certified according to the Responsible Down Standard contain down feathers from farms certified to animal welfare requirements. This means that the farms must use practices that respect the humane treatment of ducks and geese. If we are unable to use recycled down, we use RDS as a better alternative to down sourced using more conventional methods.
Lyocell is made from renewable wood sources and best known for its soft, silky feel. TENCEL™ is a trademark of Lenzing AG that makes lyocell even better. These fibres are sourced from certified forests, which guarantees responsible cutting and replanting of the trees. The wood chips are then turned into fibres through a process that recycles 99% of solvents and water instead of releasing them back into the environment.
Known for its ultra-smooth hand feel and made from sustainably sourced wood pulp, Eastman Naia™ cellulosic fibre is fully traceable and sustainable. It’s produced in a safe, closed-loop process where solvents are recycled back into the system for reuse. The manufacturing process is optimised, too, so it has a low tree-to-fibre carbon and water footprint for minimal impact.
Made from naturally grown Abacá banana plants, Bananatex® is extremely durable with a soft hand feel – perfect for bags and accessories. Cultivated within a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry, the plants require no pesticides, fertilisers or extra water. The material innovation is Cradle to Cradle Certified® Gold – the most advanced standard globally for products that are safe, circular and responsibly made.
A plant-based material, Desserto® is coated using up to 30% of biomaterials that come from the cactus plant and 70% of water-based polyurethane. Known for its strong and supple feel, you can find this modern material in our bags and accessories collections.
Recycled & repurposed
By giving a new life to leftover fabrics through recycling and repurposing, we can reduce our demand on the planet’s limited natural resources.
Recycled fabrics are made using the waste from both the pre- and post-consumer stage of a product’s life.
The pre-consumer stage happens before the product is made, gathering waste from yarn spinning and cuttings from the production process. Post-consumer refers to the stage at the end of the product’s life. This could be unused clothing, textiles or even things like carpets, all of which can be made into new clothes. All the recycled materials we use are certified according to the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and Recycled Claim Standard (RCS).
Repurposed fabrics are made from gathering our own cutting waste, recycling it to make new repurposed pieces from the cotton, wool and cashmere in our collections.
Due to the complexity of the repurposing process, there aren’t many brands of our size doing this. There's lots more we can do but we’re proud to be leading the way.
We seek out new production methods and innovative ways to bring a higher proportion of recycled fibres into our compositions and retain the quality feel you love. We aim to source 30% recycled materials by 2025.
Recycled cotton is made by converting both pre- and post-consumer fabric into fibres that are then spun into new yarn.
Made by using cutting waste from our own production process, this material gives a new life to COS leftover fabrics.
By recycling cashmere from yarn-spinning waste, yarn overstock and post-consumer garments, we can create completely new pieces without wasting this precious material.
To maximise our use of this precious material, we gather the waste cashmere cuttings from our own production process and convert them into new garments. We have a high standard for the cashmere we use at COS, which means even when it is repurposed, the piece will still have a high-quality look and feel.
Recycled wool is from yarn-spinning waste, yarn overstock, production-cutting waste and post-consumer garments, which is converted into new fibres that are then spun into a new yarn.
Repurposing COS cutting waste is an innovative way to reduce the waste of wool. Since we only use high-quality wool fibres, they can be respun to create a new fabric without compromising on the quality or longevity of the finished piece.
By using recycled nylon, we reduce our demand on limited natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. Recycled nylon can be sourced from pre- and post-consumer waste – even things like carpets can be made into new clothes.
This is made from recovering nylon waste, such as fishing nets, fabric scraps and carpet flooring. Through a regeneration and purification process, the nylon waste is recovered back to its original purity. This means ECONYL® regenerated nylon is exactly the same as nylon made from fossil fuels and can be recycled again and again, without losing its quality.
The recycled polyester in our collection is made from pre‐ and post‐consumer waste. It’s much better than producing new polyester, which is derived from crude oil – a non‐renewable and increasingly scarce resource. This fabric can also be recycled again and again.
Recycled polyester is known for its down-like properties, retaining heat, even when wet. Made from post-consumer waste, it provides a more sustainable, animal-friendly and down-free alternative to conventional padding.
This modern form of insulation is used in our collection as a more sustainable way to insulate our coats, jackets and winter accessories. It’s made from pre-used down from consumer products, such as bedding and sleeping bags. The down feathers are extracted through a separation and sorting process. They are then washed and sterilised using a chemical-free cleaning method, so they are safe to use again. To make sure the down meets quality standards, it is tested throughout the production process.
Every piece of jewellery within our recycled silver collection has a story to tell. Our sterling silver earrings, necklaces and rings were made by recycling all kinds of objects. Coins, silverware and even old items of jewellery have all been remade into new designs.
Circulose® is a material made from discarded cotton textiles, such as a pair of old jeans or T-shirt. Using an innovative recycling process powered by 100% renewable energy, these old fabrics are transformed into a new natural material that needs no cotton fields, no oil and no trees.
This is a regenerated cellulose fibre, made from cotton linter – tiny cotton fibres that stick out of the cottonseed and are usually too small to spin. Cupro has a smooth hand feel and lustrous sheen that is considered by some as an alternative to silk.
Naia™ Renew is produced from 60% sustainably sourced wood pulp and 40% recycled waste material. This smart solution helps prevent many hard-to-recycle materials from going into a landfill. It easily blends with other fibres and is soft, quick drying and reduces pilling, making it great for use in knitted and woven fabrics.
Recycled silk is made by gathering waste fabrics from the production process and transforming it into new yarns to be used again. As creating virgin silk has a high environmental footprint, making the most of this precious material is one way we’re improving the circularity of our designs and reducing our impact on the planet.
This is a type of technology that has been designed so recycled fibres can be used to make TENCEL™ Lyocell. REFIBRA™ is a trademark of Lenzing AG, which is made by mixing cotton scraps from production processes and unused clothing with natural wood pulp. This stops good fibres from ending up in landfill – and means fewer natural resources are needed to make new fibres.
Brass is a versatile material that can be recycled a number of times without losing any of the properties we all admire.
Through a repeated heating, cooling and shaping process, broken glass is recycled to create sculptural jewellery within our collection.
Crafted from scrap or post-consumer waste plastic from ex-display stands, optical lenses, water bottles and industrial products, recycled plastic is melted and reformed into new shapes to create pieces in our jewellery and sunglasses collections.
BLOOM® Algae is an innovative material designed to replace conventional rubber, reducing the use of petroleum-based acetates, lowering our carbon footprint and helping restore aquatic habitats.
We believe every piece should have a long lifespan. To make sure the materials in our collections meet our high-quality standards, we use conventional fabrics such as leather and silk, while constantly searching for better alternatives and pushing the industry to improve.
Most of the synthetics we use have been converted into recycled alternatives and we are making the transition to organic silk as well. We’re working towards making sure all of the leather in our collection is chrome free: a cleaner tanning method that’s kinder to the planet. As part of our work with the H&M group, we are also pleased to announce our commitment to promoting responsible leather manufacturing practices worldwide as a member of the Leather Working Group (LWG).
Natural vs synthetic
When choosing our fabrics at COS, we don’t just select them because they’re natural or organic, we look at how they will perform when our customers wear them, too. That’s why we need a balance between using natural fibres, such as cotton and wool, and man-made synthetics, such as elastane and polyester.
Synthetic fabrics often add very functional elements to a garment. For example, adding a small percentage of elastane to cotton jeans will give them a slight stretch – making them less rigid and more comfortable to wear. Or, blending polyamide with wool can help the piece last longer, especially if it’s a product designed to be worn repeatedly, like a winter coat.
We’re aware that blending natural and synthetic fibres makes them harder to break down and recycle into new fabrics. This is something we’re currently exploring with new partners and innovative technologies. However, synthetic fibres can add strength to a garment – meaning it can be worn more and live a longer life.