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Are We Wearing Pure And Best Cotton?

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Are We Wearing Pure And Best Cotton?

Are We Wearing Pure And Best Cotton? Global value of cotton: Cotton production is an important activity in many cotton growing nations which also includes developing countries. Production, manufacturing, import and export of cotton is responsible for providing incomes to a lot of people involved in the various sub-activities of the trade. Global cotton exports were recorded as being worth of over USD 62 billion in 2018. The market can grow rapidly as there is a strong network of producer countries worldwide.

The producers: major countries in cotton production

In terms of world production, over 100 countries in the world grow cotton. Cotton makes up about 32% of total worldwide fibre production according to the Australian Grown Cotton Sustainability Report. Starting from 240 kilograms of lint per hectare in the 1950’s, to 790 kilograms of lint per hectare in modern times, the average yield has been increasing with time. 

cotton fabric


Production Per Year (Bales)


33 million


27 million


18 million


10.5 million


9.5 million


5 million


2.9 million 

Burkina Faso

2.3 million


2.9 million


1.8 million


1.6 million

Types of mixes in cotton fabrics

Cotton fabrics can feature different characteristics – fashion updates like, rough, silky, thick, textured, sheer and luxurious which makes it a go-to fabric for clothing, home furnishings and a plethora of other uses. Natural softness, breathable nature, ability to change and high durability are a few traits due to which cotton has got a status of being a year-round fibre.


There are a range of cotton fabric mixes available in markets:

Broad cloth is a tightly woven cotton fabric with finely embossed crosswise patterns. It is generally used for shirts as well as in home décor. 

Canvas is a rugged cloth that is made with coarse yarn. 

Chambray is a cotton fabric made with a mix of coloured and white yarn.

Chenille is another fabric that is fuzzy and soft in nature and makes a perfect fabric, for use in upholstery and robes.

Terry cloth an interesting fabric that has moisture absorbing features and is generally used for making bath towels and robes. 

Damask is also another mix. It is a patterned fabric that is made on a jacquard loom. Its uses, include production of table linens.

The newest fashion update is of the well-known type of mix - Denim which is a rugged and durable twill. It is popularly made mostly in indigo blue, black and white being the other shades. It has been used since the mid-19th century for crafting denim jeans and jackets.

Jacquard is another fabric crafted on the jacquard loom, that creates detailed textured weaves and is used in decorative fabrics like tapestries and brocade.

Another simpler cotton fabric mix is Knit, It is stretchy in nature and is crafted by interlocking thread loops together. It is predominantly used for t-shirts, underwear, bedsheets and other forms of clothing.

Who are the major cotton buyers?

China is a key producer of cotton but at the same time is a major buyer as well. It is the largest importer of raw cotton in the world, buying about 21% of the global cotton imports at a value of roughly USD $2.38 billion

The second largest buyer globally is Vietnam, which receives 13% of the total cotton exports at a value of USD $1.50 billion.

Turkey comes at number three, buying 11% of total raw cotton valued at around USD $1.22 billion

These top three buyers are followed by Bangladesh receiving 9% of cotton exports; Indonesia buying 7%Pakistan receiving 5.6% imports; South Korea buying 4.1% of total exports and Thailand importing about 4.3% worth of raw cotton.

Are we wearing pure and best cotton?

One of the most popular type of cotton mix is poly-cotton. It is a blend that is made up of cotton and polyester fibres. The ratio sometimes varies, where 65% is cotton and the remaining 35% is polyester. Such blends like many other blends, are crafted to afford the advantages of both cotton and polyester in one single fabric.

cotton fabrics

The notion of whether we are wearing pure cotton in the landscape is not as simply explained as it seems. There are several producers and manufacturers of cotton fabrics and they source their raw cotton from cotton farmers.

It is not feasible for a consumer to go to a cotton farmer and purchase raw cotton from them and then weave it and craft it themselves to create a certain desired finished product. That is what textile manufacturers and brands do.

The most a consumer can do, to know the fine quality or poor quality of cotton is to go into the details of where the product was sourced from. The ethical standard of the manufacturer, etc. Because, as long as there is a demand in the market, there will be plenty of supply and there is no one definite way to determine – are we wearing pure and best cotton?  

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