Sustainable fibres


Cotton is one of the most important fibers in our product portfolio. Therefore, we are increasingly considering sustainable criteria in our cotton sourcing. To promote this ambition, the s.Oliver Group has set clear targets and is committed to sourcing 100 percent of its cotton as more sustainable cotton by 2030. ‘More sustainable cotton’ includes the initiatives Cotton made in Africa and Better Cotton. On our way, we are planning to achieve the following steps: five percent by 2019, 15 percent by 2020, 50 percent by 2023.


As part of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, the s.Oliver Group has been sourcing sustainable cotton from Africa since 2009. By doing so, we help African smallholders to help themselves and, by buying fixed quantities of cotton, to generate a more stable income. The initiative also promotes training in sustainable cotton farming, is involved in social projects, and contributes to environmental protection. Genetic modification and artificial irrigation are prohibited in the cultivation of Cotton made in Africa cotton and are therefore excluded. This saves more than 500 litres of water per T-shirt. In addition, the production of one kilogram of this cotton causes up to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions. Find out more here.

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is another important partner in our sourcing of sustainable cotton. Growers licensed to sell Better Cotton into the supply chain must meet minimum social and environmental criteria and demonstrate continuous improvement in this regard. In matters of environmental protection, for example, Better Cotton is characterised by reduced use of pesticides, improved water efficiency, and cultivation methods that pay attention to maintaining soil fertility and biodiversity. An overview of the Better Cotton criteria can be found here.


Our sourcing of more sustainable cotton through the initiatives Cotton made in Africa and Better Cotton works via a system of Mass Balance. According to this system, our suppliers purchase a certain amount of cotton, corresponding to the amount of cotton needed for our products, as sustainable cotton. This means, a farmer who is licensed according to the criteria of Cotton made in Africa or Better Cotton supplies a cotton ginnery in our supply chain with the respective amount of more sustainably cultivated raw material. During production, it can happen that the more sustainable cotton is mixed with conventional cotton. So, the raw material is not physically traceable to end products. What counts is that the amount of more sustainable cotton corresponding to the amount in the product has been transferred from the field into our supply chain. This makes sure that our company’s demand for more sustainable cotton reaches the producers, i.e. the farmers, and that they see the benefit. In the end, the mass of demanded cotton and sustainably cultivated cotton must be balanced. That’s why the system is called Mass Balance. You will find more info here.

Synthetic and animal fibres

In order to make the use of synthetic fibres more eco-friendly, the s.Oliver Group is increasingly focused on using recycled fibre materials. You can find more information here.

We also impose strict requirements and standards on our suppliers regarding the use of animal fibres, which you can read here.

Sustainable fibre strategy

In 2017, the company joined the EU-funded European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) with the aim of further expanding its sustainable fibre program. As a starting point, we took stock of our use of fibres, and calculated our fibre footprint. The outcome of our collaboration with ECAP has been summarized in a case study available here. Building on this, in 2018 we further specified our strategy for sustainable products and underpinned the defined action areas with targets. In the years ahead, we intend to significantly increase the proportion of sustainable fibres in our collections and look at further alternative materials and product innovations.

Sustainable Production Processes

A further strategic component is in the area of manufacturing processes. The s.Oliver Group seeks to promote the use of environmentally friendly technologies in production and provides suppliers with concrete guidelines for this. One focus is on water-, energy- and chemical-reduced finishing techniques in denim production. Learn more.