Most people are aware that cotton is the most widely used
natural textile fiber and is widely considered environmentally
friendly. But cotton seldom conjures images of stylishness and
However, the award-winning designs of the 2007 design
competition by China's Next Generation of Designers demonstrate
cotton's fashionable aspects.
Xiao Fangqi's Cloud collection and Wang Fei's Dance in Nature
line present frilly, pastel and lightweight denim dresses. And the
Silence collection designed by Wang Jing is colorful, feminine and
"Wearing these clothes makes a woman feel good about herself and
good about the planet," says Wu Jianchao, a student from Beijing
Institute of Clothing Technology, whose collection Style took home
awards. "Before working on the collection for the competition, I
did not realize that we can do so many things with cotton, which
usually makes us think of jeans, underwear or towels."
Organized by Cotton Incorporated, the research and marketing
company funded by US growers of upland cotton and importers of
cotton and cotton textile products, the competition held in China
for its second year is the main event of its Cotton-Beyond Your
Six student designers from the Beijing Institute of Clothing
Technology won the awards, and each was given 15,000 yuan
(US$1,948). Cotton Incorporated would help them produce the dresses
and present them at the catwalk shows in Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian
and Beijing in August.
"It's a challenge to design using only one specific fabric,"
says Wang Jiarong, director of Account Management of Cotton
Incorporated Shanghai Office. "All of the applicants did a good job
and fully display their imagination using cotton.
"The competition not only improved designers' awareness of
cotton but also raised the customers' awareness of its fashion
"When we did a catwalk show in Shanghai last year, many ordinary
viewers came to ask questions about cotton and said the fabric's
potential was far beyond their imagination."
He pointed out that shirts provide a great example of cotton's
potential. According to him, long gone are the days of shapeless
oxford shirts with starched collars and pastel colors. Shirting
today has reached new levels of sophistication with expert
tailoring and couture-like details that were once reserved for
those only in the "made-to-measure" club.
"Both men and women have an extensive variety of shirting to
choose from as the temperatures rise and sweaters are put into
storage," Wang says. "Women have a plethora of blouses to select
from, including Swiss-dot retro styles and voile tunics. Men can
opt for basic cotton oxfords that are form fitting and epaulet
adorned shirts in a rainbow of colors and prints."
As Cotton Incorporated trend analyst Linda DeFranco explains,
"Cotton shirting is essential to every wardrobe in the warmer
months. It's a way to add formality and structure to an otherwise
casual fashion season. Additionally, this season, shirting
silhouettes and embellishments are transforming basic shirts into
The challenge then becomes making cotton more fashionable while
keeping it comfortable. This requires cutting-edge
In this case, innovation drives the market. New ideas, new
technologies, and new ways of making the established and familiar
more attractive and desirable make those products viable.
At the ceremony for the 10th anniversary of Cotton
Incorporated's entry into China staged in Beijing recently,
president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated J. Berrye Worsham
introduced a series of new technologies, including storm denim
technology, wicking windows finish, endure technology and the
engineered fiber selection system (EFS).
The newly introduced storm denim technology provides
water-repellency, protection from coldness and dampness, and, above
all, breathability. It's a garment-form application that merges
fashion with function in ways not seen before.
Wicking windows, a new moisture management finishing technology,
adds another dimension to the usefulness of 100 percent cotton.
Endure is a finish that significantly increases product
durability and lifespan. The unique textile application provides an
improved level of wrinkle resistance, and helps sheets maintain
their original color longer and shrink less than sheets without the
endure technology. All of these desirable benefits are achieved
without sacrificing any of the softness, easy care or comfort
associated with cotton sheeting.
Three manufacturers and five mills in China have adopted Cotton
Incorporated's engineered fiber selection system. Employed by
nearly 70 leading mills worldwide, the EFS system is a suite of
computer software programs that helps manage high-volume instrument
fiber data to produce consistently high-quality cotton yarns.
"Chinese mills are one of the major customers for US cotton,"
Worsham tells China Daily. "Providing these customers with
a means of optimizing the quality and consistency of that fiber
helps their business and that of the American cotton growers."
The first Chinese mill to install the EFS system was Hong
Kong-based Central Textiles, which adopted the software suite in
the fall of 2005. In April 2006, representatives of Lanyan Group
Ltd attended Cotton Incorporated's EFS Conference in Shanghai.
There, they saw first-hand the ease-of-use and practical business
benefits of the software suite. Lanyan, which operates three mills
near Jinan, Shandong Province, installed the EFS system in one of
its mills in November 2006 and has now adopted it in all three of
Vice-chairman of Lanyan Jiang Ming reports that the EFS system
assists his company in lowering costs and improving the quality of
their products, improving their position in what has become a very
(China Daily June 22, 2007)