Oritain, a product and supply chain traceability specialist, has now mapped all Supima cotton growing regions with the aim of tackling fraud in the global cotton supply chain and enabling the first true authentication of premium cotton fiber.
Supima cotton is grown only in the West and Southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas in the U.S. With more than 500 licensees in more than 45 countries, Supima partners with 200-plus brands and retailers around the world that use Supima cotton, all of which now have the capability to independently verify the authenticity of their product.
By working with Oritain, licensees can assure consumers that their Supima cotton garments are authentic and have not been substituted or blended. Oritain noted that several scandals have exposed how vulnerable the cotton supply chain is to fraud. Premium cotton can be blended or substituted with cheaper, inferior alternatives without the manufacturer’s knowledge.
Supima has addressed this problem by partnering with Oritain to protect the integrity of its high-quality, extra-long staple cotton. Without verifying the origin of the fiber, claims about authenticity and sustainability cannot be substantiated.
“The demand for authenticity by brands and retailers and consumers is a growing subject across the entire supply chain,” Marc Lewkowitz, president and CEO of Supima, said. “The ability to talk about sustainability, environmental and social responsibility are not effectively possible unless you can authenticate the actual origin of the physical product. It is the quality of the materials used in a product, the quality of the workmanship, and the responsible sourcing practices employed throughout the supply chain that all add up to something greater than just all the components individually.”
Using Oritain’s forensic technology, Supima licensees can test and authenticate the origin of their Supima products at any stage in the supply chain, revealing if it has been blended or substituted and ensuring the product’s provenance. By testing the intrinsic natural properties of the cotton, Oritain identifies a unique distinguishing fingerprint for each product verifying where it was grown. Unlike other traceability methods such as paper ledger systems, blockchain, RFID, barcodes, sprays, additives, or labels, this fingerprint cannot be forged or altered and is unique to the land the cotton was grown on, Oritain said.
Luxury group Kering has implemented Oritain’s services to verify that Supima cotton used in its garments is authentic Supima cotton, woven and dyed by Albini. The partnership has produced the world’s first 100-percent traceable organic Supima cotton by testing the cotton at every stage of production, from field to the retail floor.
“Consumers are increasingly looking for guarantees of where their clothes are produced and that they are ethically made,” Rupert Hodges, executive director of Oritain, said. “Products can cross multiple borders and pass through several sets of hands before reaching the stores, making it increasingly difficult for companies to trace the journey of their products. By mapping Supima’s growing regions and helping licenses to verify the origin of products, the cotton industry is making an important step towards rooting out fraud in the global supply chain.”
Lewkowitz said Oritian’s technology, and Supima’s partnership, “represents a monumental milestone for the textile industry and represents the first steps in mitigating non-compliant or fraudulent products by authenticating the origin of the physical product.”