Cotton is the most commonly-used fiber in every Carhartt WIP collection, accounting for 70% of our products. While it is both natural and biodegradable, cotton crop cultivation often requires the use of harmful pesticides. By 2024, we aim to ensure that all of our cotton comes from more sustainable sources.
In 2017, increasingly mindful of tackling the problems associated with cotton cultivation and creating more sustainable products, we took an approach that had two key elements: We began to implement organic cotton into our collection, with an initial focus on Dearborn Canvas fabric, used for many of our most iconic styles. Since then, we have continued to grow the number of organic cotton products we make – which you can identify by the unique hang-tag on the garment, or our organic cotton emblem displayed next to the product in our online shop. We also joined the Better Cotton Initiative, which supports farmers in implementing more sustainable cotton farming practices globally.
By 2024, we aim to ensure that all of our cotton comes from more sustainable sources, meaning all of our cotton comes from either organic licensed farms, or supports more sustainable cotton production practices through the Better Cotton Initiative.
2009: Our first attempt at incorporating organic cotton into our collection was back in 2009. We created a capsule collection, focusing on nine classic items, including a sweatshirt, hoodie, and pair of jeans. It was a well-intentioned but arguably naive move. Organic cotton, back then, only accounted for 0.1% of all cotton produced globally, and our attempt to grow this range of products, while still maintaining the long-lasting quality our clothes are known for, ultimately failed.
2017: We returned to the topic of cotton in 2017, increasingly aware of the challenges surrounding cotton production and with a desire to contribute meaningfully. We knew this transition would not happen overnight and were keen not to repeat the same mistakes of 2009. As a result we opted for an approach with two key features: to incorporate organic cotton into our mainline product range, with an initial focus on our most iconic styles, made from Dearborn Canvas. And to partner with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), to help support the improvement of cotton farming globally.
2018: One year into our program, Better Cotton (BCI) accounted for just over 20% of the total amount of cotton sourced. Better Cotton is sourced via a mass balance system, meaning it is not physically traceable to end products, but ensures that Better Cotton (BCI) is able to reach more farmers and implement more sustainable cotton farming practices around the world.
2019: We typically have to plan and design our collections two years in advance, meaning the Dearborn Canvas products we began transitioning to organic cotton back in 2017 could now be purchased by customers. Importantly, these garments were just as robust and hardwearing as the conventional cotton originals. In addition, Better Cotton (BCI) now accounted for 60% of our total amount of cotton sourced.
2020: We grew the number of organic products within our range from 18 to 41 styles, increasing the amount of organic within our overall more sustainably sourced cotton mix.
2021: The process of switching to organic cotton is one that requires continued work. We believe that Carhartt WIP’s most sustainable asset is its robust, timeless clothing, which can be worn repeatedly for years. Therefore, any product being transitioned to organic cotton has to be of the same lasting quality. By Spring/Summer 2021, we had achieved that in 93 of our styles.
2022: By 2024, we aim to ensure that all of our cotton comes from more sustainable sources. This means all of our cotton comes from either organic licensed farms, or supports more sustainable cotton production practices through the Better Cotton Initiative.