Gin to Jeans: Cotton co-op does it all - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/21/09

Gin to Jeans: Cotton co-op does it all

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By Ann Wyatt Little  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As we know cotton is king here on the South Plains. Annually the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association produces between three and five million bales of cotton which could make more than 27 million pairs of blue jeans. A recent business move will have South Plains farmers involved all the way from the gin to the jeans.

S.A.F.E. denim is an acronym for Sustainable, American, and Friendly to the Environment. It's a green label Plains Cotton Cooperative created about a year ago. They are taking the label from the field to fashion stores around the country making blue and green jeans.

Farmers use nearly 45 percent less water compared to 25 years ago to grow the fibers and still meet demands. John Johnson with PCCA says the safe brand embodies what cotton farmers stand for. "The cotton farmers that are raising cotton here in West Texas are good stewards of the land," says Johnson.

He says those good stewards are taking the concept behind the safe label straight to stores. "We're focusing on high fashioned jeans and that's the niche market we're going after. I think we're going to see a lot of West Texas cotton in these jeans," says Johnson of the new business venture. Once the cotton has been turned into denim at the Littlefield Mill it's then delivered to a company in Guatemala.

"About two months ago, PCCA acquired a facility in Guatemala City where we can turn the denim made in Littlefield into jeans themselves," says Johnson. Denimatrix, owned by the co-op, is the only company in the Western Hemisphere that takes raw cotton all the way to the finished product you see in stores, stores you may even shop in. "Our biggest customer right now is Abercrombie and Fitch and we've already delivered our first order and it should be on their shelves," says Johnson

Safe denim is not a fad for these cotton farmers, it's a life time commitment. "These farmers want to make sure they take care of the land so their children and grandchildren can farm that land," says Johnson.

You can purchase denim directly from the mill in Littlefield at safedenim.com

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