The following are the steps in the production process of our apparel:
Organic upland and pima cotton production starts with the sowing of the cotton seeds. No chemical or toxic fertilizers are used and genetically modified seeds are prohibited in accordance to NOP . The cotton plant takes about five months from germination to boll maturation when it is harvested for cotton fibre.
Organic upland and pima cotton is either picked mechanically or manually where it is simply allowed to freeze to expedite the harvesting process. The cotton must be stored in strictly controlled conditions to avoid the development of fungus, causing significant reductions in cotton quality. Chemical harvesting is prohibited under the NOP standard.
Ginning is when the cotton boll is separated from the seed and cleaned of any debris. It is now called lint and this lint is then compressed into bales for marketing. The quality of the cotton will suffer if unripe, damaged or dirty fibres are left in the cotton lint. Organic cotton seeds can be used for cotton seed oil production for human consumption and as well as fodder for livestock. There are two types of cotton gins: roller gin and saw gin. The roller gin being the superior gin.
Spinning involves transforming the organic cotton fibre into yarn, including the cleaning, blending, and the twisting together of the fibres and the final coiling of the yarn. As per GOTS, there are no imputs of any kind applied at the spinning stage. Most spinning mills are now located in Asia and specifically in China and India. There are a handful left in the United States. The quality of the spun yarns depends on the staple length of the cotton and the spinning technique, the most common being “ring spinning“ and open end spinning, with the latter being the superior technique.
Dyeing consists of imparting colour either to the loose cotton organic fibre, yarn, fabric or manufactured garment. There are two main dyeing techniques: dyes are either applied from dye solutions (yarns, fabric) or by printing from dye pastes (garments). A lot of commonly used dyes contain toxic chemicals which are hazardous to human health and the environment, and need to be specially treated and disposed of after the dyeing process. Dyeing protocols under the GOTS standard prohibit chemical and hazardous dyes and dictate the use of natural and non toxic options.
6. Weaving & Knitting
The organic upland and pima cotton yarn is transformed into fabric by weaving or knitting.
Under the GOTS standard, the use of toxic or chemical inputs to assist in the weaving or knitting processes is prohibited. Today, the majority of knitting and weaving mills work with computer-controlled looms. The ancient art of hand-weaving, however, along with hand-spinning, remains a popular craft in many countries, including the USA.
In order to improve the properties of garments, various mechanical and chemical finishing techniques are applied to fabrics. Organic fabrics are finished only with non chemical finishes that are approved under the GOTS standard and use mechanical techniques to achieve everything from sheen to fibre compactness.
8. Patternmaking & Cut and Sew Operations
When the fabric is ready to be made into a garment it is sent to a Cut and Sew operation which includes a patternmaker experienced in high end designs for pattern samples and sewing professionals that construct the garments.