Pioneers of Progress
of consumers prefer
their clothing to be
made of cotton and cotton blends.
of consumers say
cotton is safe for
of consumers say
“100% cotton” claims
are influential to their apparel purchases.
Cotton Incorporated extends its environmental commitment to the consumer in two ways: through consumer engagement in the Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program and through a range of market research that collects consumer attitudinal information on environmental issues, and explores means of “sustaining” consumer interest in cotton and cotton apparel.
The Blue Jeans Go Green™ program began in 2006 as the Cotton. From Blue to Green.™ denim drive, which took place across 14 U.S. colleges and universities and during which 14,566 pieces of denim were collected. A year later, 70,000 square feet of UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation was manufactured from the collected denim and donated to a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans.
Over time, the program has evolved to include corporate sustainability initiatives and retail partners, which have proved effective means to provide consumers with a discount on new apparel items in exchange for donating unwanted jeans. Since its inception, the program, now renamed Blue Jeans Go Green™, has collected more than one million pieces of denim, diverted more than 600 tons of denim from landfills, and aided numerous communities in need.
On the market research side, Cotton Incorporated analyses encompass consumer attitudinal and behavioral research. These help sustain the viability of cotton in the marketplace by identifying desirable attributes and performance features that resonate with consumers.
The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey has tracked consumer behavior and preferences since 1994. Topics include apparel, the environment, shopping, the economy, fashion, fiber selection and more. Each month, Bellomy Research completes more than 500 interviews with U.S. consumers between the ages of 13 and 70. More than 80,000 interviews have been completed since the survey’s inception, revealing a longstanding preference for cotton.
Sustainable Water Practices
To enable cotton to better compete with synthetics, Cotton Incorporated worked to develop textile innovations
for specialized cotton fabrics that have water-wicking, quick-drying and waterproofing capabilities.
Indeed, Monitor data indicate cotton is the fiber of choice among most consumers, with more than eight out of 10 (82%) saying they prefer their clothing to be made of cotton and cotton blends and more than nine in 10 (91%) saying cotton is safe for the environment.
Cotton Incorporated research also reveals that cotton is an influential marketing tool. Nearly eight out of 10 consumers (78%) say “100% cotton” claims are influential to their apparel purchases, the Cotton Incorporated 2013 Environment Survey shows, followed by “natural” (60%), “sustainable” (57%), “environmentally friendly” (53%), and “green” (48%).
Research efforts such as these indicate long-term consumer attitudes and preferences, which can then inform decisions across the supply chain.
One such example is in technological innovation, spurred by research indicating a strong consumer preference for cotton in athletic apparel, but few options were available at retail. Cotton Incorporated worked to develop textile innovations for specialized cotton fabrics that have water-wicking, quick-drying and water-proofing capabilities, enabling cotton to better compete with synthetics.
Some of those innovations include:
Wicking Windows™ technology, which pulls moisture from the skin and forces it to the outside of the fabric, where it can evaporate
- TransDRY® finish, which wicks and spreads perspiration for fast-drying performance
- STORM COTTON™ technology, a water-repellent finish for cotton that protects the wearer from rain and snow while allowing the fabric to breathe
- STORM DENIM™ finish, a water-repellent technology for cotton denim that does not inhibit denim’s natural ability to breathe, yet lasts for the life of the garment
These new technologies have allowed cotton to regain market share from man-made fibers in the activewear and outdoor apparel markets. The company’s Wicking Windows™ and TransDRY® technologies have attracted major brand partners in athletic apparel, while the STORM COTTON™ and STORM DENIM™ finishes appeal to manufacturers of outdoor apparel, workwear and even mainstream denim makers.
Cotton Incorporated is not only interested in consumers’ attitudes toward new apparel purchases but also in the life of that new garment itself. In completing the Life Cycle Inventory & Life Cycle Assessment of Cotton Fiber & Fabric, the company found that the consumer-use phase of a garment provided the strongest opportunity for significant environmental gains. As a result, Cotton Incorporated has directed resources toward educating consumers on sustainable garment care.