We all wear clothes, at least the overwhelming majority of us do. One of the most popular natural materials used to make our clothes is cotton, by a long way. If your wardrobe were 100% absent of cotton then we’d be curious to take a look at your innovative style.
The natural style of cotton is part of the reason it’s so popular. But cotton clothing does come with some other key benefits, although with a few caveats dotted along the way.
In any case, let’s get to it. Here’s a quick summary but skip over if you’d like to get to the deets.
The benefits of cotton clothing: summary
- Kind on the skin, warm and cosy
- A natural fabric that can be sustainably produced
- Affordable when compared with other natural fabrics
- However, all of the points above depend on the cotton’s quality.
Let’s start with a straightforward reason to wear cotton. It feels good, even great. There are a number of reasons for this. Cotton is, above all, kind on the skin. Synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin as they’re made from man-made materials (in the case of polyester, plastic from petroleum). The cotton that we wear, on the other hand, is just spun from a fluffy white flower from a plant and your body’s not going to have any problems with that.
Men's organic cotton sweatshirt
- Cosy (also Hygge)
While that’s the general rule, remember that cotton comes in a few different varieties. The better the cotton - and the longer the fibre (or staple) of the cotton - then the more softness, warmth, breathability and cosiness you’re going to feel. So stick with high quality cotton if you want to get the best out of it. That also means you’ll enjoy your garment for longer, which is also an important sustainability concern. Which brings us onto…
These days, the sustainability of our clothes is less a nice-to-have and more a must-have. It’s hard to overlook this aspect in light of the challenges to the planet and its people. Fashion is also one of the world’s most wasteful industries - responsible for some quite shocking waste, like approximately 10% of global carbon emissions and 92 billion tonnes of textile waste each year.
Because of the problematic stats above, there are now a fair few ‘sustainable fashion’ brands trying to do things better. We count our brand, POMP, as one of those. This is because of the strict sustainability measures we take.
There are many ways to be a sustainable brand, of course, but the fabric used to make the clothes is pretty fundamental. So how good is cotton? Well, on the whole, it’s a fairly sustainable fabric because it’s a natural material that is biodegradable and it also doesn’t involve fossil-fuels to produce it, like synthetics such as polyester do.
Cotton is complex, though, and it’s not quite as simple as that. The fluffy white fibre has also been called ‘the world’s dirtiest crop’ because of the huge amount of water, pesticides, dyes, and insecticides it requires to produce clothes. That’s before you even look at the inhumane working conditions that are often intrinsic to large-scale cotton production.
So, just like the comfort of cotton - the sustainability also depends on the type of cotton. And the quality. Let’s say you opt for something made from upland cotton (a.k.a. Mexican cotton), which is a cheap cotton responsible for over 80% of global production. That’s not going to be a very sustainable garment. Instead it’ll just contribute to cotton’s notorious dirty crop rep. On the other hand, if you go for an item of clothing made from GOTS-certified organic cotton then you’ll have an item of clothing that is far more sustainable.
It’ll be backed by the good things about typical cotton, such as the biodegradability and plant-based origins. It’ll also mitigate some of the drawbacks, like all the water waste, pesticide use, and cruel conditions for workers. It’ll also last longer so you don’t have to lob your pre-loved item onto landfill after a handful of wears. We get much more in depth about GOTS certification here.
Cotton has gone up in price recently, like many other things have. In fact, in 2022 the price of cotton experienced one of the steepest hikes on record.
The pressures eased a little in late 2022 and so far in 2023 but the good news is that cotton, despite price fluctuations, remains one of the most affordable natural textiles. Compared to other virgin fabrics, like wool, silk, hemp - or even innovative new fabrics like Lyocell - cotton still remains within reach to most buyers. A garment made from cotton will rarely break the bank - even if it’s made from premium cotton like Supima or the GOTS-certified cotton POMP uses. We’re mentioning this benefit, as it’s important. The cost of living pressures are not easing anytime soon - and our need for clothes is not going anywhere either. Affordability is not an aspect to take lightly.
Nevertheless, we have said a few times that you should seek out good cotton - and combining quality with affordability isn’t easy. That’s why a lot of high-quality sustainable brands are often priced at the luxury end of the market. There are a few exceptions though, with this excellent guide from Good on You revealing some of the most trustworthy. Our brand POMP, is also one of those affordable sustainable fashion brands you should know about. We use a lean D2C model and technology like on-demand production to reduce waste and keep prices down.
We combine all three of the benefits of cotton in this post. So please do take a look at one of our collections, because after all, POMP’s clothing is made strictly from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton. No other material is used. And each item is recyclable and can be sent back to us at no cost - we make new clothes out of it! The shirt you see above is made from 50% recycled cotton and 50% virgin. We’re proud to say we’re part of a circular fashion system.
And if now’s not the time then we hope this post has been useful! If we’ve given you something to think about the next time you’re buying some cotton clothes then that’s a step in the right direction.