What is Organic Cotton in Conversion?

We’ve always been big on doing our part in an industry that can be… well, a little icky. From sourcing the most sustainable materials to partnering with the cleanest factories possible, we’re always looking for ways to lessen apparel's impact on the planet. 

That’s why we’re stoked to bring Organic Cotton in Conversion into our spring 2023 lineup. Think of these fibers as organic-in-the-making – they’re sourced from farms that are making the shift to organic practices, but aren’t quite certified yet (the certification process takes years). We’re investing in these partners to support their transition to organic and help drive change in the industry as a whole.

Why does this matter? Let’s start with the basics:

Organic Cotton vs. Cotton

It’s no secret that cotton is a popular material choice for clothes. The demand puts pressure on farmers to grow and harvest their cotton quicker and more efficiently. 

Regular cotton farming begins with genetically modified (GMO) seeds and uses pesticides and herbicides to control weeds. The same soil is used year after year, degrading soil quality and removing important nutrients. The lack of soil quality often means excessive watering since the poor-quality soil can’t retain a lot of water. Manufacturing isn’t much better – think lots of chemicals (including chlorine, heavy metals, and chemical dyes) and even more water use. 

Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown with GMO-free seeds and zero pesticides or herbicides. The soil is rotated, allowing it to retain nutrients and water (which means less irrigation overall). In organic cotton production, fibers are processed with safe alternatives to the harsh chemicals usually used – think natural or water-based dyes. 

Organic Cotton in Conversion

So, if organic cotton is so great, why aren’t all farms going organic? It’s a lengthy and expensive process to receive organic certification, making it often inaccessible for farms.  

During the transitional period to certification, the resulting crop is labeled “in-conversion” organic cotton by the Global Organic Textile Standard. While it’s not certified organic yet, it’s also not being grown in an inorganic way. Farmers are audited annually by certification bodies, per the international organics production standards.

Understandably, this leaves farmers in a financially vulnerable growing period. Research shows the retail demand for organic cotton is strong: the Textile Exchange reports an 84% increase in forecasted organic cotton demand by 2030 compared to 2019/2020. Yet, it also reflects that the number one barrier to sourcing organic cotton is its cost. The number two barrier? There isn’t enough organic cotton in the pipeline to meet sourcing needs. 

So when companies (like us) can support these farms as they transition to organic cotton, it helps make sustainable options more accessible and drives the whole industry into a more sustainable future.

Why We’re Stoked on Organic Cotton in Conversion

This spring we’re using organic cotton in conversion in our Primo and Samba styles. It’s us investing in these partners to help them become sustainable. More organic cotton = a lowered environmental impact and clothes that you can feel good wearing. It's a win-win.

After all, we’re all in this together!