The Future of Cotton: Color, Purity & Ecology


Organic Cotton Plant used to make eco friendly clothingYou picture a fuzzy white ball, right? Or rows and rows of plants, all the same, soaking up water, sun, and pesticides. You might even think of the cotton farmers in India, never able to make enough to pay back their creditors. Slaves to their fields.

That’s not the kind of cotton we’re talking about. And those are not our cotton farmers. That system is unsustainable, bound to fail the earth and fail its people. Exploiting everyone and everything it comes into contact with. What we’re talking about is something entirely different: organic Peruvian cotton, in many colors. And that makes all the difference. 

Peruvian Cotton (a brief history):

Fermin Tanguis cultivated Tanguis cotton and saved Peru's cotton industryMonoculture is never a good idea. From diversity we are able to adapt and to thrive. This too is true for cotton. When blight wiped out nearly all Peru's prized Pima cotton plants, one type of cotton thrived. From its seeds, Férmin Tanguis cultivated the plant that would come to bare his name: Tanguis cotton. Adopted by cotton farmers, Tanguis cotton was planted there far and wide. Thus saving Peru's second biggest industry at the time, and its national economy as well. 

Similar to Pima in that it’s ultra soft and long-fibered, Tanguis is hardier and more prolific, growing six times per year instead of only once. Tanguis is also better suited to Peru's variety of extreme, and often dry conditions. It was because there was an alternative to Pima that the cotton industry in Peru survived at all. Unfortunately, because international markets equate the name "Pima" with soft, luxurious cotton, farmers are being tempted to plant Pima more and more.

Colored Cotton (and the future):

Cotton comes in a variety of gorgeous colors that render dye unnecessary. Especially Tanguis. Rich, natural hues reminiscent of the earth, make lovely and versatile organic cotton cloth. Some cotton plants are hardy and want little water. Some could drink forever. Most standard cotton needs loads of pesticides to survive. With a global climate that is changing fast, it is imperative that we value diversity among crops. And, as always, choose the path that is softest on the earth. 

A field of colored organic cotton in Peru grown for Indigenous fair trade clothing

The PURE Collection

When designing the new PURE collection, we wanted to celebrate the spirit of Andean cotton and to support the farmers who plant an array of colored cotton varieties. We chose cottons (and alpaca, and wool,) with rich and varied hues. Many we twined together to create one-of-a-kind yarns and unique knits. Our fair trade artisans knit each yarn into sweaters designed with the earth in mind. Warm. Practical. Entirely natural. Take a look at our new PURE line, and let us know: which is your favorite?

Womens undyed organic cotton knit Baja hoodie by Indigenous

Womens undyed organic cotton Crew Sweater by IndigenousWomens undyed alpaca and organic cotton Boyfriend Cardigan from IndigenousWomens Pure organic cotton undyed Essential V Sweater in cream by IndigenousWomens undyed gray alpaca Long Shawl Cardigan by IndigenousWomens undyed Highland Crew Sweater in taupe by Indigenous

Shop the full PURE collection, dye-free & colorful by nature >>