White? Or Not!
Cotton is the world’s most popular fabric because it is soft and comfortable. When I think of organic cotton, I think of it as being plain, white and quite frankly, boring! Well, naturally coloured cotton is anything but. In reality organic cotton can be grown in a variety of colours including tan, green, red, brown and yellow.
Cotton’s natural colour does not fade. Yields are typically lower and the fiber is shorter and weaker but has a softer feel than the more commonly available “white” cotton. Naturally coloured cotton feels softer to the skin and has a pleasant smell. Coloured cotton agriculture began in Indo-Pakistan, Egypt and Peru around 2700 B.C. It was the Industrial Revolution and the cotton gin that changed things. Short-fiber, coloured cotton was too difficult to spin when compared to long-fiber all white cotton. In the American-South, slaves were forbidden from planting white cotton in their own gardens as they might sell it for profit. They were allowed to grow naturally coloured cotton and spin their own clothes as hand spinning of the cotton worked well, but the fibers did not take well to the looms.
With inexpensive industrial dyes and the cotton loom, the growing of the coloured cotton eventually disappeared. It made a brief appearance again during WWII when green and brown cotton plants were produced because dyes were not available. The plants were thought to yield too little lint that was too short in staple length so once again the growing of coloured cotton was halted except in a handful of traditional communities in places like Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.
Cotton is one of the most pesticide-dependent plants in the world. Cotton farmers use approximately 23 percent of the world’s insecticides and 10 percent of the world’s pesticides. Once cotton is grown it is then dyed with chemicals or flame resistant properties. These chemicals are taking a toll on our environment and human health as a whole. Traditional cotton farming is hard on the environment.
Every t-shirt made of conventional cotton requires ¼ pound of harmful chemicals. Recently consumers and manufacturers have been turning to organic cotton producers. In 1988 there was only one acre of organically grown cotton in America. By 2001, there were more than 11,000 acres and now the number is a little under 5,000 as competition from growers around the world has increased. Not only is coloured cotton easier to grow organically as it is more pest resistant than white cotton, but it does not require any bleach or dyes during processing. Furthermore, the color of fabrics made from naturally colored cotton does not become worn and fade away compared to synthetically dyed cotton fabrics.There are many revival efforts in various countries to bring back native cotton spinning and weaving techniques as well.
Organic Cotton Colours-Fox Fibers
I was quite impressed to learn about Organic Cotton colours-Fox Fibers. It was launched by Angel Sanchez 25 years ago to enhance their value while simultaneously improving the world of sustainable fashion. For quite some time now, the company has offered creations of high aesthetic value, such as designs made by designer Ana Voces. Organic cotton colours is characterized by the production of all kinds of garments (underwear, shirts, pants, baby clothing, towels and recently, bedding) made from high quality, coloured organic cotton which has a great feel and is offered in classic and very basic designs. The Organic Cotton Colours showroom is located on Calle Teulera 138 in Santa Cristina de Avro (Costa Brava), and they also have a brand new online store.
Do We Need Colour?
I would say yes! I think it’s also fair to say if we want colour variety in our daily lives, let’s search for ethical and sustainable options. Now that we know organically produced colour cotton fabrics are available, and the heavy costs to our environment exacted by the use of artificial dyes, are you ready to be responsible and wear your fashion ethically?