The lack of transparency is one of the main problems in the fashion and textile industry. Recently, some scandals have involved the cotton supply chain, particularly in terms of non-compliant certifications. Since cotton is the main ingredient of a jean, we want to shed some light on what happened.
Some cotton was irregularly certified as organic in India
Cotton is the material the denim industry builds on. Since its foundation, Candiani Denim has been committed to developing a reliable, responsible sourcing system and to continuously improve the cotton supply chain. That is why we feel discouraged when scandals occur, but at the same time, we are also motivated to find new, efficient solutions to avoid similar situations in the future.
The most recent and probably the worst scandal about organic cotton happened in India, where some non-compliant Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifications were issued by Control Union India. The eco-labeling body IOAS (International Organic Accreditation Service) has suspended Control Union India’s ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation and restricted its ability to grant any further approval of the two organic textile labels: Textile Exchange (TE) and GOTS, as stated by IOAS website.
Candiani Denim stopped sourcing Indian organic cotton
Candiani Denim decided to stop sourcing organic cotton from India in 2021 due to its unreliable certification body/system. Although we are sure that most Indian producers and workers are honest, it has been impossible to distinguish them over the last few years also due to traders’ increasing lack of support regarding due diligence and transparency.
Our current sourcing landscape
We keep focusing on organic cotton, sourcing it in Africa, where we have a strong relationship with farmers and ginners, and we collaborate with merchants and traders to perform coordinated due diligence activities.
Moreover, in November 2021, we became the first company certified by the regenagri® Chain of Custody program. We were assessed against requirements such as traceability, management systems, and the integrity of materials, and the certification has confirmed that our regenerative denim is made with the regenagri® certified cotton.
We believe in a future in which regenerative cotton will be the standard in our industry and chose to work with the regenagri® since it focuses on continuous improvement and provides farms and organizations with a concrete solution, meeting them wherever they are.
To put words into action, we partnered with the Spanish farm Algosur to launch regenerative cotton grown on their land in Andalusia. Algosur committed to growing regenagri® certified cotton for the first time in Spain and we committed to absorbing the entire quantity produced. Therefore, Candiani Denim is the first and only mill to introduce regenagri® certified fabrics made from Spanish regenerative cotton, resulting in a significant reduction of CO2 emissions in the cotton supply chain.
Currently, we source:
- 45% Better Cotton certified cotton (45% from Ivory Coast and 55% from Brazil)
- 29% regenagri® certified cotton (25% from Brazil, 65% from Spain, and 10% from Greece)
- 1% Blue Seed, regenagri® certified cotton (100% from Spain)
- 25% organic cotton (52% from Tanzania and 48% from Uganda)
Our goals for future cotton sourcing
Even before the most recent events, we decided to participate in that part of the supply chain, which is not under our direct control. That is why we co-engineered Blue Seed cotton with Gowan Seed Company, which guarantees traceability, transparency, and coherence with sustainability claims. We have exclusive access to it and partner with some farms in the United States, Brazil, and Europe to grow it.
We aim to source 50% of our cotton supply from the EU by 2025. In terms of quality, we aim to source 33% regenerative cotton, 33% organic cotton, 33% Better Cotton certified cotton, and 1% Italian Blue Seed cotton by the same year.
If you want to learn more about the current cotton landscape, click here.