Less than a month after joining the Milliner Cotton Organic initiative—a plan spearheaded by Artistic Milliners to promote Pakistan’s organic cotton—the company announced it will lead in-conversion cotton, the process of supporting farmers in the switch to organic cotton farming.
“We want to do our part to encourage more farmers to navigate the transition to organic cotton,” said Gudrun Gudmundsdottir, Bestseller’s sustainable materials specialist. “As we introduce in-conversion cotton in our more sustainable cotton portfolio, we also support the farmers behind it and their commitment to getting their organic cotton certification. It is a direct signal to farmers that there is a demand for organic fiber and that their efforts to convert their farming to organic practices are supported and valued.”
According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2020 Organic Industry Survey, organic fiber product sales increased 12 percent over 2018 to $2.04 billion in 2019, with most of those sales in organic cotton. The demand is increasing, and while it’s in farmers’ best interests to get onboard, the process requires time—Bestseller reports it can take three years for soil to recover from pesticides used in conventional farming—and money. The fees required for the shift are often referred to as an “organic premium,” and farmers experience a yield decline and added pressure to adhere to strict regulations to meet international standards.
Through its direct-to-farm approach, Bestseller is able to ensure farmers receive the support necessary for the shift, and is partnering with Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and multi-stakeholder platform Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) to do so. During the shift, brands that use the cotton will be able to use the label “in-conversion cotton” to signify the transition to more sustainable sourcing while continuing to support farmers.
Bestseller also recently launched its own experimental sustainability platform, Fashion FWD Lab, to advance efforts toward a more responsible supply chain. Through the lab, it’s working with blockchain-based traceability technology to implement processes that eliminate loopholes from the value chain.