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Our 25-year love affair with organic cotton

 

Cotton – my textile fibre of choice
Organic cotton is my absolute favourite fabric. It’s so very versatile and usable – think everything from dainty jersey tops and chunky knitted sweaters to windproof jackets, or from airy hand-woven voile to rustic woven rugs. I particularly enjoy using unbleached, undyed cotton.

 

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The first time I ever saw a cotton field... 

...was in Greece in 1995. It was September and the cotton bolls had ripened over a long, hot summer. Growing cotton requires large amounts of water in the early stage as well as some degree of artificial irrigation throughout the process. Cotton is often grown in rotation to prevent soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. After two harvests, it is usually rotated with another crop.

 

1995 – the year we first used organic cotton

It all began in northern Greece, close to the city of Thessaloniki, the heart of the country’s textile industry. That’s where the Litsas family, now in the fourth generation, run Readytex, the business that has been supplying us with organic cotton since 1995. There was a wave of environmentalism at the time, and interest in organic cotton surged. At Readytex, Dimitrios had developed a plant-based dye, bringing ancient formulas back to life and giving them an eco-friendly twist. The result was a lovely, pale range of greens, pinks and blues.

 

 

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25 years on – launching celebratory organic-cotton pieces

To celebrate our 25 years of using organic cotton, we have designed two new organic-cotton jersey pieces: a generous dress and a simple top, both crafted from the same printed jersey. Made by Readytex, of course – our faithful supplier of 25 years.

 

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Organic cotton fields in Greece and India 

These pictures were taken on our visits to cotton fields in several countries. Cotton is planted in late spring (typically May) and harvested in September. In my pictures, the cotton plantations in Gujarat, India, seem a lot more abundant than the ones in Greece. Perhaps there was a lot of rain in Gujarat that season?

 

 

 

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Agrocel – growing organic cotton and promoting production across India

Our visit with Agrocel was incredibly enriching and provided us with with some wonderful insights into organic cotton production. Agrocel is both a business that grows organic cotton and an organisation that promotes its cultivation across India. On our visit to their cotton fields in Gujarat, we received expert guidance and input from their dedicated, experienced staff. Best of all, we were able to review the whole process from the planting to the finished yarn. The dry climate in northern India requires the yarn to be spun indoors at a factory, whereas the southern Indian climate naturally provides the right level of humidity.

 

 

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“Sustainable cotton production”, published by the Swedish Aral Sea Society (2010)

Learn more about sustainable cotton production in this paper, which we produced in close cooperation with the Swedish Aral Sea Society. Have a browse and discover things that perhaps you didn’t know here »

 

 

 

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Read chapter 1 - "A family-run knitting factory in Dongguan" here »

Read chapter 2 - "Embroideries – the craft and the people behind it" here »

Read chapter 4 - "Woodblock printing – a craft worth preserving" here »