Supima® Cotton - Why is it so Special?


Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown mostly in the United States, Australia, and Peru. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared to gossypium hirsutum. The gossypium hirsutum variety is commonly called upland cotton and is a shorter in length and strength. ELS cotton is at least an inch and 3/8 or longer. U.S. Pima cotton fiber is among the longest cotton staple lengths in the world with an average length exceeding 1 7/16".

The name "Supima"® is a licensed trademark owned by Supima and its members. It is used to promote textile and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton. The name "Supima" is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.

The name "Pima" is the generic term generally applied to ELS cotton grown in the U.S., Peru, Israel and Australia. The name came in honor of the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona, where the government’s Pima breeding program was being conducted in about 1910. Supima is the trademark name that guarantees that the product is made of 100% American Pima cotton. Just the word cotton on the label does not assure you that it is top quality cotton in the garment.

Only 3%of the annual cotton produced in the United States is Pima. It can only be grown in select areas where the cotton is fully irrigated and benefits from a longer growing season in a hot, dry climate. Ginning is more expensive because Pima cotton is roller-ginned, not saw-ginned like upland cotton. Pima is grown in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

ELS allows fabrics to have the highest tensile strength which are available, up to 50% stronger than other cotton varieties. Pima is used to spin finer count yarns, which can be knitted or woven into softer, finer and more luxurious fabrics. Supima® branded fabrics and textiles have all the desirable characteristics of cotton; comfort, absorbency, easy care, freedom from static cling. Plus, they have the added qualities of better strength, fineness of hand, luster and silkiness.

We hear about Egyptian cotton and you might have wondered what the difference is from Supima and Egyptian cotton. All cotton grown in Egypt is "Egyptian" but it is not all ELS cotton. Egypt is one of the largest producers of ELS cotton in the world, but it consumes much of what it produces and exports very little ELS cotton. When we see the word "Egyptian cotton" most people think of it as very fine and long staple, but actually it amounts to less then 15% of annual global ELS cotton exports.

Pima cotton traces its ancestry to the famous Sea Island cottons that were produced in the southeast U.S. in the 1700’s. That cotton was then bred with Egyptian cottons to produce the contemporary ELS cottons that have evolved in the U.S. since the turn of the 20th century. Today the U.S. consumes an average of 100,00 bales (a bale is 480 pounds) of U.S. Pima cotton a year.

Supima® is truly a trademark that defines luxury and added value with the most desirable aesthetics in the textile world"

Visit http://www.supimacotton.org for more information.

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