The cotton supply chain is long overdue for an upgrade, and Artistic Milliners is up for the challenge.
Earlier this year, Artistic Milliners, the Pakistan based denim company, rolled out the plan to promote Pakistan’s organic cotton in Baluchistan, a region considered to be the country’s “organic valley.” Now, as the world celebrates World Cotton Day on Oct. 7, the company gears up to launch a more holistic project that aims at addressing scalability and traceability issues in cotton supply chain.
This new initiative, called the Milliner Cotton Initiative, takes place in Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab, Pakistan, calls for visibility and women empowerment throughout the cotton supply chain. It also encompasses capacity building for ginners and promotes practices for mitigating extortion.
Though there have been a number of programs that aim to improve certain areas of the cotton supply chain, Milliner Cotton is the first to focus on the entire scope, from picking to spinning.
“There is a plethora of sustainable cotton standards and programs in the market,” said Omer Ahmed, Artistic Milliners CEO. “[But] there are none that view the cotton supply chain as a whole ecosystem and propose interventions based on the complex inter-relationships of all supply chain players. Milliner Cotton intends to do just that.”
Milliner Cotton satisfies 13 of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and especially benefits cotton pickers, who are often women. Through the program, these workers are provided with life skills training, access to an alternative livelihood program and better picking resources in partnership with WWF Pakistan. Artistic Milliners’ core team also works directly with workers during frequent visits.
The program also emphasizes the need for fiber traceability, and the company is in talks with different technology partners that will help map the cotton journey—a concept that’s growing in demand, as an increasing number of consumers and partners are calling for transparency into the cotton supply chain. Traceability technology implementation will start in the program’s third year.
Traceability aside, the program also focuses on upgrading technologies for advisory services for ginners, as well as mechanical and other more efficient methods of cotton harvesting for women cotton pickers.
In addition to the Milliner Cotton Project, Artistic Milliners is also planning direct intervention to promote Pakistan organic cotton. Both programs, Milliner Cotton Initiative and Pakistani Organic Cotton, cover different aspects of cotton supply chain sustainability.
The company has worked closely with the UN in recent history. It’s been a participant of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) since 2018 and was nominated as an SDG pioneer in 2019. It is also a signatory to the UN Women’s and UNGC’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which help businesses promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.