September 11, 2020

All About Cotton

By Carson Eddy
All About Cotton

Cotton fabric is one of the most commonly used fabrics in the world and is chemically organic because it does naturally does not contain any synthetic properties. Cotton fabric is made from the fibers that come from the seeds of the cotton plant.  The round, fluffy fibers emerge when the boll or seed of the cotton plants matures.

Cotton fabric is incredibly soft and remains one of the most popular and highly produced fabrics in the world. Since cotton cultivation began the resulting woven or knitted textiles have been prized for their exceptional breathability, lightness, and heat retention. Cotton easily absorbs water but also dries quickly, which makes it highly moisture wicking. You can wash cotton in hot water, but it will shrink unless it is exposed to a pre-treatment. Cotton fabric is also prone to wrinkling.

Cotton Cultivation

The earliest evidence for the use of cotton fibers in textiles is from sites in India, which date to approximately 5000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization was able to flourish due to cotton cultivation, which provided the people of this culture with readily available sources of clothing and other textiles.

People in the Americas likely used cotton for textiles as long ago as 5500 BC. There is evidence that cotton cultivation was widespread throughout Mesoamerica since at least 4200 BC. While the Ancient Chinese relied more on silk than cotton for the production of textiles, cotton cultivation was popular in China during the Han dynasty.

While cotton cultivation was widespread in both Arabia and Iran, cotton plants didn’t appear in Europe until the late Middle Ages. Before this, Europeans believed that cotton grew on mysterious trees in India, and some scholars during this period even suggested that cotton was a type of wool produced by sheep that grew on trees.

The Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula introduced Europeans to cotton production, and European countries quickly became major producers and exporters of cotton along with Egypt and India.

Types of Cotton

Short-staple cotton
Short-staple (SS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are up to 1.125 inches long.  While this type of cotton is great for everyday use, it isn't as soft as other types of cotton.
Long-staple cotton
Long-staple (LS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are between 1.125 and 1.25 inches long. This type of cotton is somewhat more luxurious than SS cotton.
Extra-long-staple cotton
Extra-long staple (ELS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are longer than 1.25 inches. ELS cotton is the most luxurious and soft type of cotton in existence.
Egyptian cotton
Egyptian cotton is a term that refers to certain forms of either LS or ELS cotton. Giza 45 cotton, for instance, is over 45 millimeters (1.77 inches) long, which makes it one of the longest and most luxurious varieties of cotton in existence.
Pima cotton
Pima cotton is a type of ELS cotton that was created through a partnership between the U.S. government and the Pima Indians in the early 20th century. It is considered to be one of the most durable forms of cotton.
Supima cotton

Supima cotton is a type Pima cotton that has received the blessing of the American Supima Association (ASA). To be considered “Supima,” Pima cotton can only be grown in the United States with organic cultivation practices.

Organic Cotton

Certain independent organizations provide organic certification for cotton products. Most notable among them is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is an organization that specifically focuses on providing consumers with access to safe and sustainable organic fabrics. Another company known as OEKO TEK also certifies organic textiles. Plus, all Supima cotton is organic, and an organization called the American Supima Association (ASA) must certify Pima cotton for it to be considered Supima.