12 Brands, Retailers That Are Snapping Up the World’s Organic Cotton

Adidas, organic cotton, cotton, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, Organic Exchange

COTTONING ONTO ORGANICS

Organic Exchange’s annual ranking of the top brands and retailers who purchase organic cotton always makes for an interesting read, particularly because inclusion in the list doesn’t necessarily place a company’s ethics—and by extension, environmental commitment—above reproach. (Case in point, Walmart has been numero uno for three years running.) Size, in this matter, is everything, which means that supply-chain volume and global reach count more toward racking up those numbers than any overarching, beatific vision of sustainability.

From 2008 to 2009, organic cotton production grew 20 percent from 145,872 to 175,113 metric tons.

But does it matter how we get there as long as we, you know, get there? Even in the face of a recession, the global market for organic cotton apparel and textiles soared to $4.3 billion in 2009, representing an uptick of 35 percent from the previous year’s estimate. From 2008 to 2009, organic cotton production grew 20 percent from 145,872 to 175,113 metric tons (that’s 802,599 bales) on 625,000 acres (253,000 hectares) in 22 countries.

“Many people thought the recession would mean an end to all things organic, but the market reacted in quite the opposite way,” says LaRhea Pepper, senior director of Organic Exchange and co-author of the 2009 Organic Cotton Market Report. “Consumers dug in their heels and continued to support the use of organic cotton and other sustainable fibers, while brands and retailer maintained or even expanded their commitments to making their product lines more sustainable by continuing to increase their use of such fibers and safer manufacturing processes.”

And there’s nowhere to go but up. Organic Exchange predicts the global organic market will grow 20 to 40 percent in in 2010 and 2011 to result in an estimated $5.1 billion and $6.0 billion market, respectively.

2008 RANKING

1. Walmart/Sam’s Club
2. C&A
3. Nike
4. H&M
5. Zara
6. Anvil Knitwear
7. Coop Switzerland
8. Pottery Barn
9. Greensource
10. Hessnatur

2009 RANKING

1. C&A
2. Nike
3. Walmart/Sam’s Club
4. Williams-Sonoma
5. H&M
6. Anvil Knitwear
7. Coop Switzerland
8. Greensource
9. Levi Strauss
10. Target
11. Adidas
12. Nordstrom

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