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Candiani Cotton’s Got the Blues

Italian denim mill Candiani has its own cotton.

The company is growing Blue Seed cotton, an exclusive hybrid, non-GMO cotton variety, designed to be a stronger fiber but also more resistant in the field, requiring less water and chemicals than traditional cotton.

The crops have been planted–and thrived–in Spain, Greece and the U.S. thus far.

Candiani worked in tandem with the Arizona-based agricultural advising company Gowan to nurture this unique strain, which it uses in some of its fabrics.

Alberto Candiani, president and owner of the mill, said the collaboration with Gowan started after they acquired the genetics of the “magical hybrid GMO-free seed.”

“At Candiani we were targeting a superior quality type of cotton which had to be GMO free so it could be cultivated in the E.U. and could go organic too,” he said. “This particular variety already existed, but it was eventually going to be dismissed. Together with Gowan and our farming partners in Spain, Algosur, we decided to ‘rescue’ it and we renamed it Blue Seed, because the seed is actually blue and that fits us perfectly.”

Blue Seed was birthed through cross-pollination of GMO free upland and extra long staple, resulting in the best advantages from both parent plants. “The current Blue Seed has also much higher strength and tenacity, the reason why we blend it together with post consumer recycled fibers which are normally short and ‘poor,’” Candiani said.

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Candiani and Gowan are currently looking into the development of other varieties, which could take years to achieve, he added.

The mill also recently found excellent results in an experiment when it grew Blue Seed cotton at the Rodale Institute in California with its Coreva natural stretch fiber as a regenerative fertilizer.

The denim mill owner views his new, direct connection with farming as somewhat inevitable–one that goes back to his ancestor who founded the Candiani company in 1938. “My grandfather’s passion was cotton, he did consider becoming a farmer at some point, but cotton was that type of commodity which involved very high risks and the market was really into the sustainable matter as much as it is now,” he said. “I am seriously considering local experiments to grow cotton locally in Italy and will continue to consolidate our E.U. supply.”