Archive for October, 2011
A Reuters story from this week, “Shoppers won’t get break from cotton price dip,” refers to NAT’s relationships with Levi’s and Hanes in the context of brands looking to diversify the types of fiber they use to ease costs against the volatile cotton markets. Robert Shearer, CEO of VF Corp, makes the exact point that we feel differentiates CRAiLAR:
“Consumers, when they pick up a pair of Wrangler jeans or Lee jeans, have certain expectations…experimenting with how jeans feel would ‘harm the brand.'”
CRAiLAR Flax, blended at significant rates, is indistinguishable from 100% cotton to the touch. This was a significant factor in why Hanes signed a 10-year purchasing agreement with us in March, and why brands like Levi’s, Cintas, Carhartt and others have been in joint development agreements with us this year evaluating how they might use CRAiLAR Flax in their product portfolio.
To commemorate London Fashion Week in September, The Guardian hosted a panel discussion of fashion professionals to consider what trends await the industry. No, not style trends; this discussion focused on how the apparel industry is prioritizing and promoting ethical issues, from sustainably grown materials to fair labor practices throughout the production chain. (You can watch a video of the panel discussion here or read a summary here.)
Across the board, participants voiced a need for companies to adopt more and more ethical practices, but the question of how to do it was more divisive. Some argued that influential companies could trigger a market-wide chain reaction by their leadership, as they introduce a new standard in ethical fashion. Unfortunately, the market for sustainably produced products is still deeply niche, leadingothers to suggest that it is ultimately a problem of consumer education.
How do you think this problem can be solved? Can the industry kick-start bottom-down change? Or do consumers have to demonstrate that these kinds of practices are a priority with their spending habits? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Textile Exchange, the global organization dedicated to promoting the use of organic cotton, just released its annual Global Sustainable Textile Market Report. According to the Report, organic cotton represented a $6.2 billion industry last year and stands to grow another 20 percent in 2012, ballooning to $7.4 billion.
Along with that forecast, the Report also published its list of the top 10 corporations using organic cotton. Just a quick glance reveals that the list is filled with industry-leading apparel companies who wield strong taste-making influence, from athletic brands like Nike and adidas to big box retailer Target or mall fashion brand Zara.
At the top of the list is Sweden’s H & M, which used more than 15,000 tons of organic cotton in 2010. According to CSR Product Manager Henrik Lampa, by creating demand for organic cotton, H & M is incentivizing cotton farmers to adopt sustainable cultivation practices.
Of course, there are many experts who think that cotton, as a crop, is too difficult to sustainably grow. Given that opinion, we won’t be surprised when next year’s edition of the Report begins to track the rise of organic cotton alternatives, such as flax and hemp.
Naturally Advanced Technologies announced today that it has entered into a short term CRAiLAR® Flax fiber development agreement with Carhartt beginning in September 2011 to support evaluation of processing CRAiLAR Flax fiber in premium grade work wear. To read the full story click here.
We’re very excited to share a recent profile of NAT CEO Ken Barker in Toronto’s Financial Post. In the story, reporter John Shmuel discusses the way Ken’s vision of how an organic cotton alternative could penetrate more industries than apparel has helped NAT land some significant partnerships with global brands such as HanesBrands and Levi Strauss & Co. “There isn’t a category or industry we’re not engaged in,” Ken is quoted as saying in the article. “We have the first viable alternative to cotton, and we’re making sure everyone knows that.” Read the entire profile, including Ken’s tips for successful partnerships, read the full story here.