Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Story of Natuarlly Colored Cotton

One of our distributors passed along this story, so we share it with you!

The Story of Natuarlly Colored Cotton
There is a theory that cotton grew in many different colors before the industrial revolution. However only white cotton had fibers long enough to be spun by machines. As a result, white cotton was grown commercially for the emerging industrial markets and the other colors of cotton either died out or were kept alive by hand spinners as part of a residual cottage industry.

In the late 1960’s Sally Fox began cross breeding brown cotton – considered a weed by “white cotton” growers – in an effort to develop a long fibered colored cotton that could be spun commercially. This cross breeding exposed a recessive gene for green, which Sally stabilized, and in turn cross bred to produce a long fibered green cotton.

Initally, this naturally colored cotton was grown conventionally – with chemical pesticides, fertilizers and defoliants. However, as demand grew, farms were contracted to grow naturally colored cotton, organically.

Unfortunately, by the mid-1990s organic cotton initiatives by various US mills had not reached the “critical mass” needed to be commercially viable, so the growing and processing of organic cotton was sourced primarily to third world countries. Still we are indebted to the many US companies that began the journey to move a major component of the textile industry - cotton - to the stage of being chemically-free. In addition to Sally Fox's company - Naturally Coloured Cotton, brands such as Patagonia and Levi Strauss, to name a few, endured huge losses, in their efforts to bring the concept of chemically free fiber to the public's attention.

We are there now. Organic cotton is a household word. In some cases we have added color for those that need it; but for the purists, there is natuarally colored brown and green cotton.