For quite some time, Istanbul has been the centre of Turkey's textile industry and some of the factories there are situated right in the middle of this historic city. Now, however, there is movement eastward, as more and more companies set up factories in the eastern part of the country, where tax breaks make it attractive to set up manufacturing.
"In many ways, the situation in eastern Turkey is different to that in Istanbul," explains Gina Tricot's Head of Sustainability, Marcus Bergman. "I've just returned from Batman, a city which, a decade or so ago didn't have any textile manufacturing at all and was completely reliant on its oil deposits. Now, there are plenty of textile factories and the manufacturers are able to build good factories. Then, of course, you have to grab the opportunity and here, international clothing companies also have a responsibility to get involved and try to make a change. This applies to the work environment as well as the types of fabrics we work with," he says.
When it comes to the work environment, Gina Tricot works with a code of conduct that is based on membership in the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative). The main advantage with this is that many companies share the code of conduct, which gives it power and makes it easier to implement. Choice of material also falls within the scope of international systems. Marcus Bergman explains:
"We were in Batman to help with the certification of one of our supplier's factories so they could use organic cotton. We travelled there with staff from the independent Swiss organization, IMO, which performs quality assurance for sustainable products. It's all about being able to tell the difference between organic cotton and regular cotton at every stage of production. To help with this, there is a certification system, in this instance OCS, which stands for Organic Content Standard. You go through both how the material is reported administratively and for bookkeeping purposes, along with how it is dealt with in practice. The aim is to ensure that the product really does contain organic cotton."