FABRIC GUIDE: ORGANIC COTTON
Cotton – it’s one of the most popular and widely used fabrics in the world. A staple fibre in textile production, cotton can be seen in everything from kitchen and bath towels, socks and underwear, knitwear, t-shirts and denim. The earliest records of cotton being used to make fabrics dates back to approximately 5000 BC in the Mehrgarh and Rakhigarhi historical sites in India!
Since the early days of cultivation, cotton has been a prized fabric for its incredible breathability and lightness. It’s also very soft but retains heat, making it a wonderful fabric for wearing all year. The advancement of technology in farming and agriculture has also led to a term you've probably seen popping up on your clothing care labels: organic cotton. So, what exactly is cotton and what's the difference between regular and organic? Let’s start with the basics.
THE COTTON PLANT
Cotton is a shrub that grows in what’s known as a boll – a soft, protective shell that surrounds the cotton seeds. As a textile, cotton is chemically organic, meaning it doesn’t contain any synthetic compounds, making it a great choice for sustainability. Cotton plants are native to tropical and subtropical regions like Africa and India, but today it’s grown across the world, with Australia being home to the 2nd greatest diversity of wild species after Mexico!
Cotton is a fairly hardy plant that requires plenty of sunshine to grow, however its water consumption is dramatically higher than most other plant fibres; cotton is known as a “thirsty crop” and can require an average of 8,000 – 10,000 litres of water per kilogram, more if grown in a dry, arid area.
Being that it’s a plant, cotton also has a tendency to attract insects and pests, which led to the development of genetically modified seeds that naturally produce a chemical to kill or deter certain bug species. While genetic modification helped to reduce reliance on pesticides, they have the potential to contaminate local waterways, harming people, ecosystems and animals that live nearby.
Broadly speaking, ‘organic’ refers to any food or fibre farming and cultivation method that doesn’t use genetically modified seeds or produce. When referring to fibre production, cotton is considered organic when it’s grown without the use of synthetic chemicals and scientific interference.
IS ORGANIC BETTER?
Compared to standard cotton, organic cotton is a more sustainable long-term solution for fibre farming. Organic farming practices avoid the use of harmful chemicals and aim to reduce environmental impact, using fewer resources and promoting sustainability.
While non-GM cotton plants are more susceptible to pests that could harm the crop, the lack of chemical pesticides and insecticides used in the growing process means areas surrounding farms and the clothes we wear remain free from chemical pollution.
At Replay, we love organic cotton because it aligns with our brand’s ethos of making better clothes in a better way. Across our range of men’s and women’s clothing styles, we use organically grown cotton in our basics, t-shirts, jackets, dresses, sweats, and most importantly, our jeans. Whether the fabrication is raw or blended, our cotton is always 100% organically grown using non-GMO seeds and chemical-free cultivation processes.