Textile industry professionals have been saying for some time that there are more organic cotton claims on the market than actual organic cotton grown. Meanwhile, fiber misrepresentation related to inaccurate organic cotton claims represents a vexing problem. Once cotton has been ginned and spun, there is apparently no way to verify that it was grown organically. Lab tests can’t tell, and clothing fabricators buying cotton anywhere in the world have to rely on the certificates that accompany the higher prices they pay for organic cotton.
According to Eric Henry, president of tsdesigns in Burlington, NC, USA, this problem can be mitigated -if not altogether solved – by shortening the supply chain. With this in mind, his company has launched a new garment line under the “Cotton of the Carolinas” brand. All items are made from cotton grown, processed, and sewn, in North Carolina. In addition to adding a new level of verifiability to the supply chain, he says his “Cotton of the Carolinas” t-shirts also have a reduced carbon footprint over brands made in one country, then sold in another. Excerpts of an interview with Eric Henry are reproduced below.
How did you develop the idea for a locally-based transparent supply chain?
North Carolina is one of the top five cotton-growing states (in the USA) and the majority of that cotton is sent overseas (to make apparel) that comes back and is sold in our big box stores. In this idea of “Cotton of the Carolinas,” which we describe as “shirt to dirt,” we went to (North Carolina-based operations) for our farmer, ginner, spinner, knitter, finisher, cut and sew (operations) and then to tsdesigns for print and dye.