How do I know if my products are made with SUPIMA®?
Brands that use SUPIMA® cotton in their products reference SUPIMA® content in many different ways. If it’s made with SUPIMA® cotton you will most likely find it on the product label, in the product description on the web or on store displays.
Traceability Unlike Any Other
Supima utilizes forensic science to test the natural fiber itself and verify its place of origin. To ensure this, Supima® has partnered with Oritain, a global leader in forensic science.
Without clear knowledge of the origin of a product it is impossible to definitively talk about the product. The ability to authenticate cotton to its point of geographical origin enables an open dialogue about all relevant facts, including point of origin, sustainability, and social and economic responsibility aspects. Unlike other technologies that are dependent upon the addition of a tracer or marker.
Oritain uses a peer-reviewed methodology to analyze trace elements and isotopes to determine a products origin. These trace elements and isotopes, which are unique to their environments and regions are absorbed by the cotton fiber. By sampling the cotton over the entire producing region, Oritain has created an origin database that samples can be checked against. This is one way SUPIMA® Cotton has certified traceability.
The cotton naturally absorbs different levels of trace elements and isotopes from the soil, water and environment, giving Supima cotton a unique, identifying fingerprint.
Farms of the Future
From GPS-navigated tractors that plant and harvest the cotton to satellite technology and soil monitors, Supima farmers ensure that they are growing the best quality cotton in the world with as little impact on the environment as possible.
To maximize water-use efficiency, cotton fields are laser-leveled . This leads to knowledge regarding the topography and make-up of the soil. Farmers then select the best method for irrigating the crop; either through drip irrigation, which directly feeds the plant only, or flood irrigation to restore moisture to the soil, which has the added benefits of:
Promoting soil health
- Fostering wildlife
Sustainability by Nature
Stalks, Stems & Leaves
All plant materials besides the seed and fiber is captured during the ginning process and is utilized in the local cattle industry as much needed bedding for livestock. By law, all fields must be cleared of plant material to prevent insect populations from nesting over the winter and affecting the next crops. Many growers will also flood-irrigate fields as a natural way to reduce pests while laying a base level of soil moisture for the next planting season.
One of the most valuable bi-products of the seed is cottonseed oil. It’s considered a premium oil because it is flavorless, odorless, and has a high flash point. Additionally, after crushing the seed to extract the oil, the seed hull is an important source of protein that can be integrated into feed mixes for livestock.
As a premium, extra-long staple cotton, great care is taken to preserve the fiber’s premium qualities. This is particularly evident during the ginning process, when the seed is removed from the fiber. All Supima cotton is ginned on “roller gins” that operate at much lower speeds in order to gently separate the fiber from the seed. In contrast, regular cotton is processed by high-speed “saw gins” which use a more aggressive system to break the fiber away from the seed.
for Dane Wade Sweatshirts, Sweatpants and French Terry Shorts
As a continuation of our commitment to sustainability and traceability, we have completed the most comprehensive organic certification process in the industry. Our latest arrival of our heavyweight organic fleece is 100% GOTS certified organic. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Why We Don't Use Recycled Cotton
Sustainability continues to be at the forefront of product decisions, brand initiatives, and strategy for us at Dane Wade, and we are always researching and evaluating the options we have to better our products and lessen our environmental impact on the planet.
What is recycled cotton?
Recycled cotton is not a new concept to the apparel industry. It has gained popularity from a marketing perspective as an eco-friendly option. Apparel brands and retailers continue to evaluate their supply chain footprint and as a result, interest in recycled cotton has grown over the past 10 years.
How does it get recycled?
Recycled cotton can be generally defined as converting cotton fabric back into cotton fiber that can be reused in textile products.
The largest volume of recycled cotton is sourced through pre-consumer waste, such as cutting scraps from the factory floor. Post-consumer waste, such as a cheap tri-blend tees, is more difficult to sort through due to various color shades, fabric blends, and it is generally a much more labor-intensive process.
To make a recycled cotton fiber, fabrics and materials are first sorted by color. Then the fabrics are run through a machine that shreds the fabric into yarn and further into raw fiber. This process is harsh and puts a great deal of strain on the cotton fibers. The fibers will often break and entangle during shredding. After shredding, the raw fiber is then spun back into yarns for reuse in other products.
This is problematic in the luxury space. The length of the fibers is paramount in creating something of high quality; and this is the main reason that Supima® is such a special type of cotton. Recycled cotton fibers are short which results in a coarse, dry feel that lacks the refinement and strength of fibers. The reality is that the quality of recycled fiber will never have quality values equal to the original fiber and no where near the fiber length and uniformity.
The Challenges of Using Recycled Cotton:
- The cotton must be blended with other fibers to be made into new yarn for strength and durability, and therefore cannot continuously be recycled.
- The content of recycled cotton will depend on the end-use application. Any amount of recycled product will impact the yarn and fabric properties such as evenness, strength, and uniformity.
- Recycled yarn cost is generally higher than standard, virgin cotton yarn costs but is consistently of a lower quantity.
- Testing instruments are made for ginned, virgin cotton. Sometimes, testing results can be skewed due to the difference in fiber packing and orientation which makes the blends difficult to accurately represent on labels.
- The risk of contamination by other fibers is much higher for recycled cotton. Stitching, sewing thread, small amounts of spandex should all be taken into account when establishing the recycled supply chain.
What are the facts?
- The U.S. EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space
- The average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment half as long. McKinsey (2016). Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula.
- Across nearly every apparel category, consumers keep clothing items about half as long as they did 15 years ago. McKinsey (2016). Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula.
- The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.
Consumers are purchasing more clothing items, and then disposing of them. This is directly contributing to consumer textile waste. The impact of laundering and disposal has a large impact on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the number of launderings, which indirectly relates to garment life.
A garment that is well-constructed has a long life and is more likely to have more laundering cycles that would increase the impact reducing waste. Creating textiles with a shorter useful life as a means to decrease impact would not have the desired positive impact on the environment.
A better solution?
Instead of constantly re-using low grade cotton and dealing with the process of sorting and repurposing to reduce landfill waste, we believe it would be better if brands focused on making quality garments from the beginning. Finding ways to reuse inferior products just creates more industrial and consumer waste. In many ways it is akin to working on a treatment instead of prevention.
At Dane Wade, we want to be a part of the solution. We think that avoiding waste starts by creating a better garment from the beginning. One that you will not dispose of, that can withstand wear and tear, and wash after wash. We want your customers to appreciate the garment, and go back to it as their favorite piece time and time again.
Virgin extra long staple cotton like Supima® is naturally a sustainable option. Cotton is a natural and biodegradable fiber. We foster transparency and sustainability within our virgin cotton supply chain, and will continue to use the finest cotton available in an effort to focus on quality over quantity. If each of us tried to buy less, but higher quality garments, the environmental impact would be substantial.