BESTSELLER DEBUTS ‘HOLISTICALLY SUSTAINABLE’ AFRICAN COTTON
BESTSELLER brands NAME IT and SELECTED are the first ever to include CmiA (Cotton made in Africa)-Organic in their collections – complete with a fully transparent supply chain from fields to final products.
As demand outstrips supply, the road to a more sustainable cotton industry is not without bumps. Nevertheless, BESTSELLER is now forwarding its organic cotton efforts, most recently by adding in-conversion cotton to its portfolio and today with the announcement of being the first brand group to use CmiA-Organic.
“With the CmiA-Organic standard we see a truly holistically sustainable raw material with an African footprint. It is really great to see that our partnership with BESTSELLER has evolved in this direction, making it the first brand to use CmiA-Organic,” says Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Aid by Trade Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind CmiA.
“We now look forward to extending the CmiA-Organic programme with BESTSELLER and continue our encouraging collaboration.”
Far beyond the regular
CmiA-Organic has some quite distinctive attributes, as the standard goes beyond regular ecological sustainability focusing on nature protection, BESTSELLER’s Sustainable Materials & Innovation Manager Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen explains:
“It also includes social and economic criteria with improvement of livelihoods for farmers and their families at its core. They only work in Sub Saharan-Africa and with smallholder farmers, who are very vulnerable in terms of climate change and food supply, to name a few.”
In short, CmiA-Organic is good for the planet as well as for the farmers. It is even fully traceable; from fields to final products.
“There are so many positive aspects of CmiA-Organic. Adding organic cotton practices on top of CmiA’s regular work makes this standard highly demanded, which is all the more reason that we are particularly pleased and proud to be the very first brand to offer CmiA-Organic products,” says Camilla.
Organic sourcing is challenging
CmiA and CmiA-Organic follow the principles of ‘direct-to-farm’ – an approach which is gaining speed in BESTSELLER. Together with SELECTED, NAME IT is the first brand to use CmiA-Organic in its Autumn21 collection, and they know the importance – and difficulties – of sourcing organic cotton, according to NAME IT’s Sourcing & Sustainability Manager, Joan Søndergaard Nielsen:
“NAME IT has an ambition of using 100 percent organic cotton in our collections by 2025, but we find it extremely challenging to secure the quantities and the right premium through regular sourcing,” she says.
“Hopefully, engaging in more direct-to-farm organic projects such as CmiA-Organic can help encourage farmers to convert to organic cotton farming. Thereby supply will increase and get us one step closer to reaching our sustainability targets.”
The partnership with CmiA-Organic is facilitated by BESTSELLER’s Fashion FWD Lab.
Photos: Martin J. Kielmann for CmiA
A direct-to-farm sourcing model helps to create a secure market and a premium payment for the farmers.
When sourcing through direct-to-farm, we know on field level where our raw materials come from and the communities that grow it and what impact our investment has.
Smallholder farmers account for a large part of the world’s total cotton farmers, but it is complex to work with smallholders in large-scale production.
WHAT IS CMIA?
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), an initiative of the non-profit Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), is one of the world’s leading standards for sustainably produced cotton, supporting smallholder farmers in a direct-to-farm approach.
AbTF has ‘feet on the ground’ to follow up on all criteria. Their verified CmiA partners (cotton companies) help farmers to secure a high quality level; their partners train them in cotton harvesting, they engage with the farmers and their local communities and they secure payments directly to them.