One year into the Milliner Organic Project, the first crops from the organic farms of Kohlu, Balochistan, in Pakistan are now harvested – and have at the same time reached a significant milestone: passing the stringent requirements set by the Control Union to be certified as in-conversion cotton.

BESTSELLER has been involved from the beginning and is providing funding for the initiative. In return, the fashion retailer’s brand JACK & JONES will get access to a share of its cotton.

“This is truly an amazing result so early in the project,” says Danique Lodewijks, Senior Project Specialist, BESTSELLER Sustainability.

The first harvest of many

Artistic Milliners – one of the fashion industry’s most visionary suppliers – is the first private sector investor in organic cotton cultivation in Pakistan. Today, more than 2,000 farmers and nearly 9,300 acres of land are already under the umbrella of this project.

"This season's harvest is the first of many to come from the Milliner Cotton Organic project. As I said before, this will be a game changer in the cotton industry of Pakistan. We are here to bridge the gap between organic cotton supply and demand for our long-standing brand partner BESTSELLER," says Omer Ahmed, CEO of Artistic Milliners.

The in-conversion cotton from this harvest will be included in JACK & JONES’ denim collection for December 2022.

“We are continuously looking at how to improve and innovate sustainability and transparency within our jeans. This project fits our mindset extremely well and is just the beginning of a more transparent and holistic supply chain. We expect to be able to produce 200,000 jeans from the first harvest, and then increase the coming seasons,” says Mikkel Hochrein Albrektsen, Creative Buying Manager at JACK & JONES.

Improving yields and health

One of the farmers enrolled in the Milliner Organic project is Haji Bangul from Kohlu. He has been a farmer for his entire life, with farming being his family's profession for generations. Last year he was taught about organic cotton farming as well as organic pesticides preparation methods.

“We were all given a bag of organic seeds. I had heard about it before, but it was the first time I experienced it. With help from WWF and field facilitators who visited my farm weekly, I was supported through the whole journey from sowing to harvest,” Haji Bangul explains.

“My yield improved significantly compared to the past years and at the same time organic cotton is eco-friendly and beneficial for our health. After the cotton harvest I planted wheat, and my land is giving yields better than ever.”

About the project

* Milliner Organic secures farm-to-fashion traceability and works in a direct-to-farm approach that focuses on more than securing the supply of cotton. The approach benefits the entire community through farmer trainings and improved livelihoods.

* 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, it is possible to know where the raw materials come from and the communities that grow it, what impact the investment has, and how the pre-financing of seeds has helped.

* The project aims to transition from Milliner Cotton Organic to OCA FED (Farmers Engagement and Development) Programme. OCA is a multi-stakeholder organisation fully dedicated to organic cotton.

In-conversion cotton

* Cotton in the process of becoming organic is called in-conversion cotton.

* Since less than one percent of the world’s cotton is grown using organic practices, BESTSELLER has added in-conversion cotton to its portfolio of certified materials to encourage more farmers to convert to organic cotton farming.