You are many to ask us questions about cotton and more precisely about the difference between the types of cotton. As an expert in the field of cotton for more than 20 years, and as a great passionate about organic and quality cotton, my mission is also to enlighten you more precisely on the origins of cottons and on the reasons for the choices we make at Kalani.
WHAT IS EGYPTIAN COTTON?
Egyptian cotton is cotton that comes from Egypt; it is the only certainty that we could expect. All this assuming that we can trust in the control of all brands over all their supply chains. Which everyone knows is not the case. Egyptian cotton is not a verifiable or certifiable appellation of origin, so any brand can give an “Egyptian cotton” appellation without this being the case. So be careful! One way to know the origin of cotton would therefore be to ask the brand directly about the origin of its cotton, while the most sceptical can always dig a little deeper by asking questions about the quality of the fibres and yarns.
Origin of the name “Egyptian cotton”
For centuries and until the middle of the 20th century, Egyptian cotton was considered the best in the world. Nowadays, the name does not tend to refer to where it is grown, but rather to the length of the fibres that are grown. Beware of amalgams because there are several varieties of cotton in Egypt: very good, good, medium and bad as in other countries of the world.
Giza cotton, the most popular of the luxury and haute couture brands
There is an Egyptian cotton that is remarkable, it is the cotton of Giza (G/87/88/92/96), a cotton with extra long fibres (ELS: Extra Long Staple). It comes from a confidential production and represents barely 0.4% of Egyptian cotton, which itself represents less than 0.5% of world cotton production. Its production varies from year to year but is around a few dozen tonnes per year.
Highly prized by luxury brands, this extremely rare cotton is spun into the most prestigious Italian and German spinning mills to make very high-end clothing sold for thousands of euros. The production is not sufficient to cover all the demand of the major designers, which also explains why this cotton is not available for home textiles.
Long fibre cotton in Egypt and around the world.
In addition to the famous Giza cotton, Egypt also grows other cotton varieties, including a variety of long-fibre cotton (LS: Long Staple) called Jumal cotton, whose first cotton plants were imported from Peru to Egypt. This cotton is quality cotton with characteristics comparable to the long-fibre (LS) cotton varieties also grown in Peru, India and California.
In all the countries of the world there are “bad” cottons, “medium” cottons, “good” cottons and “very good” cottons, but only 4 countries have varieties of cotton with sufficiently long fibres (LS and ELS) that they can make top-of-the-range products: India, Peru, the USA and Egypt.
Egyptian cotton, not a proof of quality
Knowing that the vast majority of Egyptian cotton is similar to cotton from other producing countries and that there is no official label guaranteeing the designation “Egyptian cotton”,
the name “Egyptian cotton” therefore has no value as a qualitative guarantee.
Some brands “take advantage” of this confusion to turn it into a “marketing advantage” allowing them to justify the high prices of their products, sometimes (often) even without knowing exactly where their cotton actually comes from and without any guarantee.
So, beware of amalgams!
(We repeat ourselves, but it’s important)
When home linen or other cotton product package mentions “Egyptian cotton”, it may be long-fibre cotton from Egypt, or cotton from another origin but certainly not the famous extra-long fibre cotton (ELS) from Giza in our grandparents’ time.
WHAT IS LONG STAPLE FIBRE COTTON AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
For a cotton to be of good quality, there are different parameters to consider such as variety, strength, uniformity, elongation, color,….. For top quality, what counts above all is the length of the fibres that make up the cotton. It is the essential element to be able to spun fine yarns in order to make high-end fabrics, resistant and very soft naturally.
Technically speaking, to spin out:
• A standard yarn
The average fibre length is less than 22mm, and the bad yarns used by many fast-fashion brands are often even shorter because they do not rely on the durability of the product. These fibres are grown in about 100 countries around the world. Even in deserts!
• A so-called combed yarn
The fibres must be at least 22mm long, knowing that the average is 26-27mm. These fibres are grown in a few dozen countries around the world. And to produce a combed yarn, a machine literally combes the fibres in the spinning process, to eliminate short fibres and keep only fibres longer than 22mm.
• A long fibre yarn (LS: Long Staple)
The fibres must be between 29mm and 35mm and on average at least 30-31mm. These fibres are relatively rare and represent only +/-3% of the world’s cotton, found in India (Suraj, Anjali, Mallika & Super Bunyi), Peru (Jumal), Egypt (Peruvian Jumal), California (Acala) and China (Xinjiang). It is found in a few other countries but in minimal quantities.
• An extra long fibre yarn (ELS: Extra Long Staple)
à partir de 34,9mm. Ces fibres sont rares et ne représentent que moins de 0,2% du coton mondial, on en trouve aux USA (Pima), en Egypte (Giza), en Inde (Suvin) et un petit peu en Chine.
WHICH COTTON USES KALANI AND WHY?
1. Certified GOTS & FAIRTRADE
It is the only producer country of long-fibre cotton (LS) where we can find: Fairtrade certified, organic certified (GOTS) and therefore GMO-free cotton. As these certifications become more stringent each year, for each audit, in addition to laboratory reports certifying the absence of pesticide residues and other chemicals, we must now also provide laboratory tests proving the absence of traces of GMOs in the DNA of the cotton we use.
2. A constant quality over time
India is the second largest producer of cotton in the world after China, and the first certified organic cotton producer, which allows us to guarantee consistency over time while meeting our production needs.
3. A love story with India
We love the “Incredible India”, we have developed a unique partnership with an organic/Fairtrade cotton cooperative. This cooperative has one of the most holistic approaches in the world. We buy our cotton directly from them and send it into our supply chain to spin fine, strong yarns, to weave the best fabrics and finally to make the Kalani sheets you love so much.
CONCLUSION ON THE ORIGIN OF COTTON
It is essential as consumers to ask your favourite brands where their cotton comes from and try to check if they control their supply chain.
There are no good and bad countries to supply themselves with cotton and to produce. In all countries there is good (sometimes very good), medium and bad. The only important thing is the commitment of brands to control their supply chain and guarantee what they claim to do.
Finally, never have blind confidence in the highly controversial name “Egyptian cotton”.
Sleep well, make sweet dreams and when you wake up, please challenge your favourite brands, you will quickly see who masters and who knows nothing about the subject!
© Credit Photos : Chetco