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Cotton Supply Chain & Sustainability to Feature at Supima’s Harvest Symposium

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Raw materials are the building blocks of the garment industry. But with multiple tiers of the supply chain separating fiber makers from brands and retailers, there is often a disconnect between the two parties.

Coinciding with the harvest season, Supima, the luxury brand for American Pima cotton, has sought to bring the apparel and home fashion industries together via an annual event. Since 2019, the company has been hosting the Supima Harvest Symposium, which enables industry leaders from across the supply chain to see firsthand the care that goes into producing the world’s finest cotton and hear how growers and ginners are innovating the agricultural process.

In an effort to open the symposium to a larger audience, including consumers, this year’s symposium will once again be fully virtual. On Nov. 16-18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET, the event will feature virtual tours and roundtable discussions, providing a backstage pass to all things Supima cotton.

“There is growing recognition that quality as well as sustainability begins with the raw materials,” said Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotions at Supima. “Uncertainty around supply has made it more important than ever to partner and share information with suppliers across production.”

The Symposium will open on day one with a tour of a Supima cotton grower’s farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. This will allow attendees to see all stages of production—from planting to harvest. How much do industry insiders really know about cotton’s environmental impact? Rounding out the day, a panel of experts—including speakers from Transformers Foundation, Fashion Revolution USA and Cotton Incorporated—will come together to address and dispel key myths about the fiber. Join the session to learn the truth about everything from the crop’s actual water usage to the difference between organic and conventional cotton.

Day two will center on processing, classing and traceability. Kicking off the discussion will be a tour of Cross Creek Gin, showing attendees how Supima cotton is cleaned and baled. Next, attendees will learn how every single Supima cotton bale is tested and graded at the USDA Classing Office in Visalia, CA.

Continuing on the subject of quality and value, a panel including Buhler Quality Yarns and leading women’s brand Michael Stars will cover the pricing pressures in the supply chain. Listen in as they discuss strategies to repair margins. This talk will also reveal planned changes to the Supima licensing program.

The final day of the symposium will be a marketing masterclass. Ingredient branding is key for all levels of the supply chain, particularly as sustainability becomes a greater consumer concern. The marketing content can benefit all attendees, even if their title doesn’t include the word “marketing,” since every employee is a brand representative.

“Customers are demanding transparency around how their products are made and the materials that are used to make them. Brands and manufacturers are expected to have and share this information fully with their customers,” said Midyette. “Doing a good job in marketing a product includes telling the product’s origin all the way back to the raw material—and in Supima’s case, with our traceability program, back to where it’s grown—not just where it was manufactured.”

Supima’s brand development manager Jason Thompson will provide a history on Supima and go over the characteristics that make Supima cotton a special, premium fiber. Next, Midyette will share his insights on marketing and how Supima has mobilized partnerships and grassroots outreach to support its brand and drive consumer action.

Closing out the event will be a panel on the outlook for Supima. This year, cotton prices faced a pricing surge the likes of which haven’t been seen for a decade, making cost a key concern.

Speakers from National Cotton Council, J. Hilburn and Supima will be on hand for the forward-looking discussion. “We have focused our panel topics on the pressing issues of the day: supply chain, transparency in production and marketing, as well as the outlook for next year,” said Midyette.

To register for the Supima Harvest Symposium, email supima@paulwilmot.com.

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