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From The Editor
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

Uniquely Cotton

By James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

I t’s easy to forget just how much cotton has improved over time — not just gains in crop yield, but technology, quality and that ever-present sense of comfort felt by the consumer. With all the focus on the latest chemistry bringing new fibers to market, cotton is still cotton — but, as Jim Phillips points out in “Cotton … Naturally,” a tremendous effort is given to making cotton a powerhouse fiber in today’s marketplace.

Cotton Incorporated’s marketing and research efforts are well-known throughout the industry and utilized by many. They illustrate the force of a unified effort — making cotton profitable from farm to retail. According to the Accupanel research performed by STS Market Research, Cambridge, Mass., the men’s jeans market in 2001 totaled 232 million pairs, worth $6.2 billion — an annual consumption of 2.2 pairs per person. The women’s market was slightly higher at 267 million pairs, worth $6.3 billion and averaging 2.3 pairs per person at $24 dollars per pair. And it’s not just a jeans market — men’s slacks totaled 211 million pairs, worth $5.9 billion or $28 per pair, while women consumed even more — 321 million pairs worth $7.5 billion. That’s $25.9 billion worth of product made with cotton in the retail marketplace.

With an estimated cotton crop of 18.4 million bales in the 2002-03 growing season — among the four highest crops on record — and US consumption at less than half that number, US cotton is a global resource with global repercussions. The strong cotton infrastructure, also highlighted by Phillips, provides the United States with the home field advantage — and the research and technological assistance of Cotton Incorporated as close as Cary, N.C., provides a distinct technical advantage. The domestic textile industry is fraught with challenges from overseas producers, but just imagine the disadvantages if US cotton, and the demand for cotton products, wasn’t as commanding in the mind of US consumers.

If you’ve ever questioned the importance of marketing and the need for innovation through research and product development, look no further than the story of cotton. “The Fabric of Our Lives” has forged a link between grower, manufacturer and consumer — something uniquely cotton and uniquely Cotton Incorporated.

November 2002