by Jennifer E. Kim
Naturally colored cottons are different from white cottons for they do not need to go through the dyeing process to achieve coloration. They come in 8 to 12 different colors, some being beige, red, earth brown, chocolate brown, and green. They are cultivated and taken care of without the use of pesticides, and grown separately from other cottons to prevent cross-contamination. By not using chemical dyes, as well as reducing the use of pesticides, the naturally colored cottons have become popular for being ecological and environmentally safe. But there are some problems with the cottons, which has to do with the length and the strength as well as the cost. Compared to the white cottons, the naturally colored cottons are shorter; they are ¾ of an inch, while the white cottons are usually an inch. The only solution to this is to continuously grow cottons from the best plants, as well as take extreme care in growing and cultivating the cotton. Due to the hardship and the workload that is required to produce the cottons, the price for them is about $2.42 per pound, as compared to 70 cents for undyed cotton.
One of the well-known cultivator of the naturally colored cotton is Sally Fox. Sally Fox started to be interested in naturally colored cotton as she came across brown cotton seeds. As she planted and grew them, she discovered that her brown cotton also had green cotton as well. From there, she carefully examined the them and began to breed them in different ways, which allowed her to create six shades: “Coyote and New Brown, both of which are reddish browns, milk-chocolate colored Buffalo, sage-colored Palo Verde, Green Fox Fibre ®, and a dark forest New Green”. These are registered under trade name Fox Fibre, which was “the first commercially spinnable, naturally colored cotton”. Fox’s study and work in cotton breeding led her to create Natural Cotton Colors Inc., which “expanded the range of natural cotton clothing and home products available in the United States and abroad”. In regards to business, Fox Fibre has sold their product to Levi Strauss, who would use it to make shirts and jeans, to Esprit, who used it to make striped T-shirts that were about $38 each, and to Fieldcrest Cannon, who would use it to create home accessories.
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