From Fiber to Fashion
The story continues after the cotton is harvested...
Verifying that a product contains organic fiber begins at the farm.
Beyond the farm gate: It's still a long journey before the organic cotton fiber ends up as a fashion piece!
Organic cotton traceability through certification is crucial to know that the final product actually contains organic fiber.
Ginning separates the seeds from the fiber which produces cotton lint.
The cotton seed, hull, and left over ‘linters’ are also put to good use.
Cleaning, carding and spinning turn the organic fiber into yarn.
Knitting or weaving transforms the organic yarn into fabric.
The desired color and 'look' is achieved during the dyeing and finishing processes.
Textile manufacturing is one of the most important sources of employment for millions across the globe and characterized through high labor intensity.
Finishing the fabric...
From street-wear to high fashion...
Pants to Poverty
Love. Organic Cotton.
Organic cotton tends to be grown by small land owners, particularly in developing countries in India, Africa, and Latin America. Most farming in these regions is carried out by farmers owning around 2 hectares of land or less. However, in countries such as Turkey and the United States, farm sizes are usually larger.
Organic cotton farmers tend to be organized as certified 'producer groups'. The structure of the group will vary. For instance, it may be a cooperative of farmers coming together to pool resources and achieve economies of scale, it can be a company that contracts farmers to produce the cotton for them, or it may be a donor or NGO funded enterprise supporting the development of an organic cotton 'project'. Since there are many issues in cotton production (ranging from chemical exposure, to debt, to land degradation), the 'best' producer groups have improving livelihoods and agro-ecological sustainability as core to their business. Building knowledge, improving farmer capacity, and securing sound market opportunities are essential to success. The Organic Business Guide provides a comprehensive insight into setting up and managing organic agricultural businesses with groups of smallholders.
During the picking season, the seed cotton needs to be taken to the gin, or temporarily stored where it can be kept clean and away from conventional cotton until it is transported. In remote areas, producer groups will arrange regular pick-ups since storage space is limited. The cotton will either enter vertically integrated supply chains starting with the spinning mill or it will be traded accordingly. Ideally, incentives are there for cotton farmers to grow organically. These incentives can include: guaranteed sales, prefinancing or reduced-cost inputs, speedy payments, and a percentage premium on top of market prices. For the buyer, incentives include a 'value-addition' product since organic cotton comes to market as a certified environmentally sound fiber (e.g. biodiversity, soil fertility, water quality, etc intact). Further, provided the trade conditions are supportive, organic cotton delivers socio-economic benefits to the grower communities.
In order for cotton to be sold from the farm as organic, a review of the farm and its operations is conducted against a recognized standard. Standards may vary slightly from country to country but tend to be based on the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements and include the European (EEC) standard, the USDA NOP for the USA, and the NPOP for India (see our Industry Integrity page for further details and links to each Standard).
It is also possible for farm practices to be certified organic and 'fair' (i.e. meeting certain social criteria as well as environmental). The IFOAM Basic Standards for Organic Production and Processing (IBS) includes a chapter about social justice. The recommendations refer mainly to conventions as defined by the International Labour Organisations (ILO). Within the Standards it is clearly indicated that [organic] production methods, which violate human rights cannot be certified as organic.
Organic producers can also achieve 3rdparty certification of social standards through a number of certification bodies such as Ecocert and Naturland Fair (and many more). Increasingly, a combined Fairtrade-organic product label (in countries where Fairtrade is active) is achieved. This way all parties can be sure the ecological, socio-economic, and community-developmental benefits are delivered at the farm gate.
Trade transactions usually take place through producer groups to which a farmer belongs. Organic cotton can change hands in a number of ways: such as via integrated value chain transactions from the gin into designated spinning mills, or via traders buying the organic cotton from producer groups and selling it through international commodity exchanges to buying teams or subcontractors acting on behalf of a brand, retailer or manufacturer. The sold organic cotton amount varies – it can be a bag of fiber or a truckload depending on the region, the size of the producer group, and of course demand.
Before the actual trade takes place, the organic cotton is often stored in warehouses until a buyer is found or the final harvest is completed. To classify as 100 percent organic, it is important that the cotton remains completely separate and does not enter the conventional cotton supply chain.
In addition to the commodity price at which cotton is traded, organic cotton farmers should receive a price premium for the extra work and contribution to agro-ecological sustainability. Calculations for premiums can differ significantly, but should at minimum reflect the true cost of production (including investments in farming operations and certification), enable the farmer to run a viable business (e.g. invest in training, farm improvements, insurance, etc) and ensure a livelihood for farming families and communities (e.g. through investments in schooling, health and housing).
More farm groups and value chain partners are using Fairtrade certification these days to ensure their organic cotton investments are positively impacting farming communities.
A typical supply chain from fiber to final garment can have up to seven players spread across the globe (this number even increases if certain processes are subcontracted, e.g. for dyeing, printing, laundry or embroidery). This complexity creates significant challenges for tracing the cotton. Knowing the origin of cotton is important to retain consumer confidence in the organic concept and ensuring that benefits are going to farmers.
To satisfy the legal requirements of claiming a product contains organic cotton, a certificate is meant to follow the product through the supply chain. There is a distinction between ‘farm’ standards and ‘processing’ standards.(see our Industry Integrity page for further information on certification). Keep in mind that it's not only the 'legal' issues associated with certification it's the peace of mind that the benefits of organic cotton production - to people and environment - are being achieved.
A ‘processing’ standard is a voluntary standard which subjects the members of the supply chain to 3rd party inspection to verify the organic cotton is in the final product. Instead of one certificate following a product, the certification body issues transaction certificates each time the product is transferred from one point in the supply chain to the next. The types of processing standards vary according to the claims being made:
- Organic fiber content claims; this tracks the flow of the fiber from farm to finished product without addressing manufacturing practices (e.g. OE 100 standard or OE Blended standard)
- Production claims, track the origin of the fiber as well as manufacturing practices e.g. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). GOTS sets comprehensive rules for ecological and socially responsible textile production. Key criteria include the assessment of all chemical inputs (such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries) according to environmental and toxicological criteria, functioning waste water treatment of all wet processing stages, strict residue limits and compliance with social minimum criteria, as well as independent third party inspection and certification - all these along the entire processing supply chain.
- Other environmental claims such as ISO 14001 for management systems or Oeko-Tex 100 are concerned with low levels of chemical residues in the final products.
After the harvest, the organic fiber goes to a gin for processing...
The purpose of the gin is to separate the fiber from the seed. Given the high cost involved in this process, the gin has to operate most efficiently by retrieving as much fiber as possible. Today, many cotton gins have been modernized significantly using highly sophisticated cleaners and driers.
As with all other stages in the supply chain, it is important that the organic cotton remains separate from conventional cotton to avoid any contamination. Therefore, machines are cleaned before the first run-through of organic fiber. Gins processing organic cotton need to be certified by an independent 3rdparty.
Health risks for workers are lower with organic cotton as there are no pesticide residues in the tiny bits of fiber wafting through the air. Workers should still wear equipment to avoid inhalation of these bits and to protect themselves of high noise levels that exist at most gins.
Once the fiber is seed-free, it is pressed in a bale press to compact it as much as possible. The final bale has an average weight of 500 lbs (227 kg) and is marked with bale numbers and certification information for easy identification. These dense cubes are stacked together and sent to storage or a spinning facility. Strict practices exist for handling organic fiber, and these practices are reviewed during the certification process.
Cotton fiber makes up one third of the cotton boll, the seed the rest. In some countries non-hybrid cotton seed is ‘saved’ and used as part of the seed breeding program for next year’s crop. However, most cotton is grown from hybridized seed (allowed under organic regulations) and is not fertile so cannot be reused. Even in this case, the seed is not discarded as it has a value of its own.
Cottonseed oil is mechanically extracted from the cotton seed by means of screw or press (about two thirds of cotton seeds which generally contain around 18 percent of oil are used to extract cottonseed oil). In many West and Central African countries, cottonseed oil (used as oil or margarine) provides the main source of fat and oil supply and has several food applications (UNCTAD).
Cottonseeds hulls are also used to provide roughage in animal feed. Whereas these usages refer to animal consumption, research is being conducted to develop new uses for cottonseed derivatives in human diet. Major achievements in this direction include: Development of gossypol extraction techniques (gossypol is a toxic compound found in the cotton plant, mainly concentrated in the cottonseed).
Cottonseed meal: After the oil has been extracted from the cottonseed, the residue (i.e. cottonseed meal) is high in proteins (about 40 percent) and can be rendered as flours for livestock feed. Although marketed for animal feed, it can have other usages such as fertilizer, and even soap.
Cotton linters are fine, silky fibers which adhere to the seeds of the cotton plant after ginning. Linters are traditionally used in the manufacture of paper and as a raw material in the manufacture of cellulosic fibers. Linters can be refined for medical and cosmetic purposes and known as ‘cotton wool’ in the UK and ‘absorbent cotton’ in U.S. There is a growing market for organic cotton in the healthcare industry. Find out more here.
Spinners use organic fiber from a range of origins and varying qualities to blend them together to achieve a desired yarn characteristics, quality and evenness. Before the actual spinning, the organic fiber is prepared by putting it through a so-called ‘blow room’ to separate any debris from the cotton and then a ‘carding’ machine which is a combing process to line up the lint in the same direction. The fiber is now ready for the spinning machines.
The machinery will twist the organic fibers together and pull them long to make a fine and durable yarn. There is no difference between the strength and quality of organic and conventional fiber, it all depends on the variety of cotton that is used, how it is grown and the success of the ginning.
Whereas it is of fundamental importance that the quality of the original fiber is good (i.e. staple length of the fiber, the uniformity of length, strength and color), actual textile production, i.e. spinning, knitting/weaving and dying, can determine the final quality. These other processes are outlined in the next sections.
Organic cotton can either be spun in 100 percent composition or be blended with conventional cotton, recycled polyester, TENCEL® or other fibers.
The next stage involves taking the thin threads of organic cotton yarn and turning them into a fabric. To do this, the organic cotton yarn is either knitted or woven.
Knitting creates soft fabrics that have some stretch – ideal for T-shirts. Circular knitting machines are used for creating seamless tubes (e.g. for socks) and flat knitting machines are used for garments that will be sewn with seams (e.g. sweaters). For T-shirts, fabrics are normally knitted on circular knitting machines and then cut open width to allow garments to be cut and sawn. Many organic knit fabrics are made with 100 percent organic cotton, while others use a yarn that is blended with spandex, modal, or recycled polyester.
Organic woven fabrics typically use mechanized looms. In weaving, threads of organic yarn run parallel (weft) with a crosswise thread (warp) that is laid down while alternate weft threads are lifted. This action builds on itself to form an interlaced and durable material. Depending on the yarn count, i.e. the thickness that is used, and the woven construction, the result could be an organic cotton canvas, denim, or lightweight poplin. Woven fabrics are normally used in trousers or jeans, shirting and suiting materials.
Both knitting and weaving are mainly mechanical processes where most environmental impacts lie in the high energy consumption and waste generation.
There are different options for dyeing organic cotton: at the yarn stage, as fabric or after being sewn into a garment. If the design calls for blue and white stripes, organic cotton yarn is dyed in blue and white and processed.
Unlike yarn and fabric manufacturing, dyeing is a wet process consuming large quantities of water, energy and chemicals, and generates high volumes of waste, e.g. waste water and solid waste such as sludge. It can take up to 20 liters of water to dye a T-shirt. Estimates say that the textile industry discharges between 40,000 to 50,000 tons of dyes annually into rivers and streams which have severe negative impacts on the environment and human health (My Sustainable T-Shirt, PAN UK, 2010). The recent Greenpeace report: Dirty Laundry provides a comprehensive read on the environmental impacts of conventional dyeing processes in China.
Often, there are a number of other processes and treatments that improve the appearance, texture and performance of the organic fabric to meet desired characteristics (e.g. shrink resistant, crease resistant, water-repellent or flame retardant). Printing, for example, produces designs and motives. Mechanical methods such as lasering, embossing, punching, or appliqués, patchwork, stitches can be favored over decorative techniques such as printing to reduce the chemical and water footprint of a product.
There are many opportunities for reducing the environmental footprint of wet processes. Controlling all inputs by selecting appropriate chemicals and managing the processes is fundamental to minimize toxics and their emission in the supply chain.
This can be achieved through:
- good housekeeping
- appropriate chemical selection
- optimization of chemical recipes
- the implementation of Cleaner Production Principles: the continuous application of an integrated preventive environmental strategy to increase efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment (UNEP)
- the adoption of Best Available Technology: latest stage of development (state of the art) of processes, of facilities or of methods of operation which indicate the practical suitability of a particular measure for limiting discharges (OECD)
Here as well, 3rd part certification can play a key role. Leading standards such as GOTS, Oekotex 1000 or Bluesign have developed approaches that focus on this area specifically and address major environmental impacts.
Designing clothes is one of the most creative parts along the supply chain. Usually designers create patterns that serve as a blueprint for making clothes. Organic cotton fabric rolls are cut to match the pattern and sewn into a final piece.
Innovative designers craft patterns that generate the least amount of organic fabric waste - a resource that otherwise ends up on the cutting room floor and ultimately in landfills or recycled in low value products.
Unfortunately, this is also the stage associated with severe human rights abuses of the workers producing the garments. The International Labour Organisation (2011) estimates a total of 60 million workers are employed by the global textile, clothing and footwear industry. Many of these workers work under poor conditions: low wages, excessive working hours, severe health and safety concerns, child labor and low levels of trade union representation are amongst the well documented issues.
In order to improve conditions for the people who make the clothes, many retailers and brands have developed a code of conduct that sets out the labor standards that their suppliers must adhere to. To ensure these standards are met, independent, 3rdparty auditors assess manufacturing sites against these standards (which tend to be based on ILO Core Conventions) and the local labor law.
Very often cotton items, whether pants or tops, are sent to the laundry after garment making to bring a softer touch to the product or to give it a washed/worn look. There are many different processes that are often combined in order to achieving the required distress look. They include stone washing, bleaching, physical abrasion, whiskering, etc.
Some of these processes are manual and can present health risks to workers if adequate protection equipment is not in place. For example, international campaigns against sandblasting have driven the ban of this technique by many brands and retailers globally. See the Clean Clothes Campain against sandlasting..
In addition to social risks, laundry processes present environmental challenges as they rely on the use of toxic chemicals for bleaching (potassium permanganate and chlorine derivatives) and require large quantities of water. According to Levi’s life cycle assessment it takes an average of 42 liters per pair of jeans to get the worn in look.
Alternatives technologies are gaining market acceptance and include the use of enzymes, laser technologies and ozone treatments.
Organic cotton can be used in any design where cotton is used, and with the variety of blending options available, there is no limit to its application in fashion. Also, organic cotton can be processed conventionally in which case the final product is labeled as ‘made from organic cotton’.
Today, the most innovative brands and retailers are those that consider the impact that fashion consumption has on society and the environment. Organic cotton can contribute a significant portion to the sustainability agenda if everyone involved maintains an interest in the purity of organic cotton in the final garment.
Download the Remei AG value chain solution overview here.
Take a look at some of our favorite organic brands on the next few slides!
Anvil Knitwear is a leading sustainable manufacturer of sportswear and accessories with its AnvilOrganic®, AnvilRecycled® and AnvilSustainable® brands. The AnvilOrganic® line was introduced in 2007 and since then, the company has become one of the largest purchasers of US grown certified organic and transitional cotton. In 2010, Anvil launched the Double It! campaign with a goal of doubling the amount of US organic cotton acreage by supporting farmers in their conversion efforts as well as creating public awareness on the benefits of organic farming. This initiative also aims to meet the ever increasing demand for organic cotton clothing by consumers.
To learn more visit the Anvil website.
For C&A, the use of certified organic cotton in its collections has become a key part of their sustainability strategy. C&S’s organic project has grown from a small initial effort of agricultural projects in India in 2004 to one of the most significant organic cotton programs. Today, C&A is one of the global market leaders for organic cotton clothing.
Choosing a partnership approach to scale up certified organic cotton efforts (with Textile Exchange and Shell Foundation which led to the establishment of Cotton Connect as implementation organization), the company has made tremendous investments in supporting environmental protection and helping improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 30,000 organic farmers in rural communities in India over the coming years.
C&A’s sales figures demonstrate the success of this work. Between 2008 and 2010, the company sold an impressive number of 15.3 million garments made of organic cotton and 26 million respectively with the result that 13 percent of the entire C&A cotton collection is made of organic cotton.
Visit the C&A website for more information.
Chichia London in collaboration with Made By Africa in Tanzania.
London based Tanzanian designer Christine Mhando of Chichia London blends together her signature style using locally sourced East African print textiles (known as Khangas, which have become a medium for conveying messages) with jersey wear made from East African knitted organic cottons which transforms and re-modernises jersey essentials.
The Made By Africa concept of sourcing locally is further supported by the continual donation of 1 USD from every garment sold through this project going towards supporting education for the SOS Children's Village in Tanzania.
Designer Christine Mhando graduated from Kent University with an honours degree, in 2002 and launched the label that bears her childhood nickname, Chichia in 2007. The Chichia ready-to-wear range is an amalgamation of both continents and cultures from which the designer was raised. The label’s signature transpires from the artful application of the “Khanga”, a traditional east African cotton printed fabric used by local women as wraps.
The Coop is Switzerland’s largest retailer and a market leader in environment-friendly and fairly traded products. The company offers a Fairtrade organic cotton range of over 460 different styles of clothing, home textiles and cosmetics under the ‘bio’ label Naturaline. Coop Naturaline garments are in fact bioRe cotton products, which is the trade mark of the Swiss cotton trader Remei AG. Remei grows their own certified organic cotton in India and Tanzania and follows Fairtrade principles in its manufacturing sites. Companies that produce Coop Naturaline must also be at least BSCI certified and plans are in place for the entire supply chain to be SA8000 certified in the near future.
For more information visit Coop Switzerland
EILEEN FISHER is known for its timeless designs and is committed to using organic cotton. InPeru, the company has developed a partnership to turn local organic cotton into fair trade knits such as the one pictured, supporting living wages and community programs. This alternative supply chain is illustrated through the “Peru Chronicles” at eileenfisher.com. The company also designs with eco fibers as Tencel, organic linen and recycled poly. To transform its silk supply chain, EILEEN FISHER worked with bluesign ® technologies AG to change the dyeing, chemistry, energy and water use practices for its core silks, which will be bluesign ® certified as of Spring 2012. The company also requires all international suppliers to commit to SA8000, one of the most stringent human rights standards.
Visit Eileen Fisher for more information.
Appachi Cotton was founded in 1948 by L.Mariappa as a cotton gin. In 2004/05, Mani Chinnaswamy, the third generation owner of Appachi, and his wife Vijayalakshmi Nachiar, started working with organic cotton. In less than three years the entire business had converted to 100% organic cotton.
In 2009 the couple founded Ethicus, an ethical eco fashion label working with organic cotton. The very high quality of Appachi’s organic cotton results in yarn which is suitable for fine handwovens and the Coimbature belt is renowned for its fine handloom weaving. Looms were sourced (and repaired), weavers were roped in, a design and weaving studio was created.
The Ethicus studio offers a one stop shop. Designers can work in-house to create unique, one-off designs for fabric, saris, stoles, duppattas, or home furnishings. Big names in Indian design such as Abraham and Thakore, Rahul Mishra, Anoki, and Rajesh Pratap Singh have all worked with Ethicus over the years. Ethicus also creates their own line which includes saris, stoles, scarves, jackets, baby wear, yoga mats and home linen. Ethicus now retails in exclusive boutiques all the over India and products are in development for export markets.
Find out more about Ethicus here.
Gossypium is a leading brand of mens, womens, children, yoga and night wear and home textiles made from Fairtrade certified organic cotton. In order to meet their demand for reliable Fairtrade organic fibers, Agrocel Industries Limited, in conjunction with Vericott Ltd, which owns the Gossypium brand, have developed Agrocel® Pure & Fair Cotton. This partnership began in 1998. Agrocel has 16 rural services across India from where organic cotton is sold directly to Gossypium selected suppliers.
For more information visit the Gossypium website.
H&M is committed to increase the use of organic cotton over time in its collections. Through this commitment, the company aims to contribute to an increased demand for organic cotton and motivate more cotton farmers to switch from conventional to organic farming. H&M started off using small amounts of certified organic cotton in certain children’s garments back in 2004. Since then, the company has made significant investments. 2010 showed a marked increase in the use of organic cotton to previous years (i.e. an increase of 77 percent compared to 2009 beating its own goal of a 50 percent increase per year) so that H&M now ranks as the world’s number one user of organic cotton. Overall, this takes the company closer to its strategic target of using only cotton from more sustainable sources by 2020. This includes organic cotton, 'Better Cotton' and recycled cotton.
Organic cotton is also a major part of the H&M Conscious Collection launched in 2010 – the first collection entirely made with sustainable materials.
For more information visit the H&M website.
Hoss Intropia is a Spanish brand committed to design, quality, innovation, and responsible business. The Hoss commitment to society has been part of their business from the beginning 14 years ago. In 2006, Hoss joined the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) and developed a code of conduct with their suppliers. As the company grows, Hoss finds new ways to provide opportunities for artisans in developing countries to become part of the Hoss supplier base. Hoss produce a beautiful range of women’s wear, featuring organic cotton, and have now teamed up with Fabrics for Freedom to produce the Hoss Intropia World Selection. The World Selection is a new collection of exclusive designs created in line with the company’s firm social commitments. Top quality decorative products made in a sustainable manner by artisans and social projects in different parts of the world.
Take a look at the Hoss Intropia collections here.
Nike started to use organic cotton in 1997 and has since then steadily increased its use in their sportswear range. The company predicts that the ambitious goal set in 2001 of blending a minimum of 5 percent organic cotton will be met by the end of 2011. Furthermore, this 5 percent mark has recently been reset increasing to a minimum blend of 10 percent organic cotton in all cotton-containing apparel products by 2015 – this is in half the time as before. Nike also continues to strategically expand their products made of 100-percent certified organic cotton showing the company’s commitment in the fiber.
Across the company, FY09 estimates show that more than 14 percent of the cotton used was organic. Nike currently ranks as the third-largest retail user of organic cotton in the world.
For more information visit the Nike website.
Mantis World is a renowned supplier of ethically-made garments to the imprintable markets. They first launched their Organic Cotton collection in 2005 and the range consisted of Adult, Kids and Baby styles made from locally-grown, rain-fed, Organic Cotton from their partner factory in Tanzania. At the time Organic Cotton was seen as a niche market and not taken seriously as a viable commercial option. Mantis World however knew the benefits to all involved, the farmers, the environment and the final consumer; and continued to grow the range.
As the company continues to grow, it is continuing its commitment to expanding its Organic collection to offer contemporary styles – showing Organic can be modern and fashionable. New styles for 2012 include a roll sleeve T for men and women and a women’s loose fit tank T. They have also added more colours to existing styles to offer more choice as customer’s demand for Organic clothing continues to grow.
For the first time Mantis World is working outside Tanzania on a selection of its Organic Range. This is a testament to the dedication they show to bring their ethical manufacturing principles to other countries and increasing the use of fully GOTS Certified Organic Cotton clothing in their range.
Check out Mantis World for further information.
Coopnatural, along with their ‘Natural Fashion’ label, was founded in 2000 with the mission "to strengthen the coloured cotton textile sector, selling products that are socially and ecologically correct by encouraging family-based agriculture and local artisans".
The cooperative, which is based in northeastern Brazil, uses naturally coloured organic cotton as raw material, i.e. the cotton complies with organic standards and it is free of dyeing. The present members of the cooperative are entrepreneurs, consultants and farmers involved in the whole production chain of the textiles, starting from the production of organic cotton to sewing and marketing. It is currently trading clothes, toys, decoration and accessories in the Brazilian market and in a few stores abroad, mainly in Australia, England, Italy, Portugal and the USA.
Visit Natural Fashion for more information and a closer look at their beautiful product range.
Pants to Poverty is an underwear brand that proves that fashion can change the world. It began as part of the Make Poverty History campaign back in 2005. Today, the company sells its products in over 20 countries and sources its cotton directly from cotton farmers in India that they support through their sister charity Pi Foundation. Amongst others, Pants to Poverty has collaborated with Zameen Organic – an Indian farmer-owned marketing company for Fairtrade organic cotton - in many areas from legal and HR support, market access as well funding the first seed program based on Fairtrade principles. Manufacturing of the pants also takes place in India at Armstrong where they are collaborating on the new FLO pilot scheme on empowerment.
Pants to Poverty provide fun and novel ways for consumers to engage in social issues, such as poverty and climate change, and they play a valuable role in raising underwearness, particularly engaging young people. £1 per pair of pants sold goes towards supporting the company’s charitable work within the farming and factory communities that they support in India and soon in other countries around the world.
For more information visit the Pants to Poverty website.
The outdoor clothing retailer has been at the forefront of several environmental movements and was one of the first companies to switch its products to 100 percent organic cotton. An environmental audit in the early 1990’s revealed that for Patagonia cotton was the fiber with the worst environmental impact. The company took swift action. By 1996, they converted their entire sportswear line to 100 percent organically grown cotton despite any cost implications. This involved the development of supply chains by identifying farmers in the San Joaquin Valley (California), gins, spinners and manufacturers that were willing to work with Patagonia on these efforts.
In addition to selling organic cotton clothes, Patagonia did, and still does, persuade their customers and the public to buy and other apparel retailers to use organic cotton in their lines by sharing learnings and best practice as a way to encourage growth in organic cotton farming.
For more information visit the Patagonia website.
Founded in 1949 and acquired by Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in 1986, Pottery Barn has become the leading home furnishings retailer in the United States. The success of the brand has also led to the launch of Pottery Barn Bed + Bath, Pottery Barn Outdoor Spaces, Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen. The Company takes their environmental stewardship role seriously, and is committed to sourcing ethically. Along with their high-quality range of luxury organic cotton bedding and towels, they have developed the Pottery Barn ‘Earth Friendly’ Collection. Earth Friendly is an ever-growing range of beautiful furniture fashioned from reclaimed wood, seagrass and rattan, complementing the company’s long standing collection of organic cotton bedding, linen, and towels.
For a closer look visit Pottery Barn online.
Skunkfunk is a Basque label that uses a range of sustainable fibers for their clothes, including organic cotton. Skunkfunk strongly believes fashion and environmental and social concerns can and should go hand-in-hand. From design to fabric sourcing, logistics and their own operations, Skunkfunk is working hard to lessen the environmental impact of their activity. The company also places emphasis on concepts that will bring changes to the way we consume, designing durable and multiFUNKtional items in an effort to increase their lifecycle.
For more information visit the Skunkfunk website.
Tudo Bom – meaning “how are you” in Brazilian – is a young ethical fashion brand that uses Fairtrade organic and conversion cotton. The French company tends to work closely with smaller family-owned businesses in Brazil that are either already producing organic cotton or switching to organic production. Tudo Bom? are committed to Fair Trade.
Tudo Bom? organizes the textile processing and manufacturing directly. At each step, Tudo Bom? ensures the dyes meet the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard, and the wastewater is treated.
Tudo Bom – meaning “how are you” in Brazilian – is a young ethical fashion brand that uses Fairtrade organic and conversion cotton. The French company tends to work closely with smaller family-owned businesses in Brazil that are either already producing organic cotton or switching to organic production. Tudo Bom? are committed to Fair Trade.
Tudo Bom? organizes the textile processing and manufacturing directly. At each step, Tudo Bom? ensures the dyes meet the Oeko-Tex 100 STANDARD, and the wastewater is treated. Tudo Bom?
Visit the Tudo Bom? website for more information.
Is another world possible? This is the question that motivates Veja. With organic cotton from the Northeast of Brazil, wild Amazonian rubber and ecological leather, Veja is finding better ways of producing. Veja is built on 3 main principles: using ecological inputs, using fair trade cotton and latex, and respecting workers’ dignity.
Veja’s cotton comes from the Northeast of Brazil, a region that faces social and environmental issues such as vast wealth inequalities, fragile soils and a semi-arid climate. In contrast to the predominant monoculture farming system, Veja works with groups of small producers that grow cotton and food plants under agro-ecological principals, which ban agro-chemicals and pesticides. This cotton, bought under the principles of fair trade, is spun then woven into canvas for Veja sneakers and accessories.
Find out more information about the Veja project and collections here.
The Spanish fashion retailer makes some of its garments out of organic cotton and currently ranks as the fourth largest.
Zara supports organic farming and makes some of its garments out of organic cotton (100% cotton, completely free of pesticides, chemicals and bleach). They have specific labels which are easy to spot in their shops.
Visit Zara for more information.
Textile Exchange teamed up with Gossypium and Mantis World to produce our very own limited edition T-shirt. The T-shirt comes in a men’s, women’s and kid’s version, with a special discount for students. All profits go towards farmer training in our key regions: Africa, India, and Latin America.
View the T-shirts beautifully captured ‘in action’ on a small organic allotment in Bath, United Kingdom by photographer Calvin Talbot.
Please purchase your Love. Organic Cotton. T-shirt now and help us improve farmer livelihoods!