All of our shirts are made from organically grown materials such as organic cotton or organic linen. This means that no genetically modified seeds, no pesticides and no synthetic fertilizers are used for the cultivation of cotton or flax. As you may have seen some of our products are marked additionally with "made from bioRe® sustainable cotton" resources.
What does that mean? We want to examine this question here transparently and show which raw materials we work with.
All of our shirt fabrics are made from organically grown materials such as organic cotton or organic linen. For some fabrics we also use yarns made from recycled organic cotton (e.g. the Bernina, Marzili and Umbrail shirts). This means that no genetically modified seeds, no pesticides and no synthetic fertilizers are used in the cultivation of cotton or flax. The cultivation of the raw fiber must meet the requirements of the EU organic regulation EC 834/2007 or the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The use of organically grown raw material brings various benefits for people and the environment. You can find more information on this in our blog post "The advantages of organic cotton".
The fabrics that we use for our shirts are GOTS certified. "The Global Organic Textile Standard" is the best-known organic standard for textiles and clothing. In order for the fabric to be GOTS-certified, the raw materials, but also the other processes such as spinning and dyeing the yarn or the manufacturer of the fabric must meet certain criteria. For this, the respective companies and their processes must be checked and certified. For example, dyeing houses and weaving mills are not allowed to use heavy metals or formaldehyde. Here you can find a list of the forbidden chemicals.
Of course, certified companies and organizations must also meet social standards. For this, the conventions of the International Labor Organization must be met. Certified companies have to pay fair wages and have to work towards elimenating possible differences to the local the living wages.
But why is there the additional bioRe® sustainable cotton indication on some of our shirts? Anyone who has known CARPASUS for a longer time knows that we have been working together with the Swiss company Remei in Rotkreuz for the procurement of our organic cotton yarns from their own cotton projects. Remei has initiated the bioRe® cooperatives in India and Tanzania. For large parts of our shirt fabrics we use cotton from the bioRe® projects. For other shirt fabrics we use organic cotton from other sources. For example, our Populus, Ursido, Quercus and Castanio flannel shirts, the Lynx and many of our dress shirts are made from bioRe® yarns. The oxford shirts and dark dress shirts are made from other organic cotton yarns.
Whether bioRe® cotton or other organic cotton is used, the cultivation of the raw material and the following production steps take place according the GOTS guidelines. The organic criteria are met for the cultivation of cotton. The difference between using cotton from bioRe® projects is on the one hand the transparency of the origin. When using bioRe® sustainable cotton, we can trace back the supply chain of the shirts to the cotton projects. We then know that the organic cotton comes from the bioRe® Projects in India and Tanzania. The yarn is spun in Tanzania, India or Portugal and later dyed and woven by our weaving mill in Portugal.
If we use other GOTS certified organic cotton, we know the spinning mill and the country of origin of the cotton thanks to the transaction certificates that the weaving mill provides us with. The country of origin is mostly Turkey, a well-known supplier country of organic cotton. In this case, the weaving mill buys GOTS yarns from Portuguese or Turkish spinning mills on the market and processes them into our fabrics. However, it is difficult to find out exactly which organization or cooperative actually cultivated the cotton.
Another difference is that the cotton farmers in the bioRe® projects receive a purchase guarantee for their cotton and a bonus of 15% for the purchased cotton. This enables us to make an even greater contribution to improving the livelihoods of cotton farmers in the growing areas. The premium and purchase guarantee instruments help the bioRe® organizations in the growing areas to convince more cotton farmers about organic farming and to give them a certain degree of security when switching from conventional to organic farming. Other organic cotton farmers do not necessarily benefit from purchase guarantees or premium payments, but that does not mean that social standards are not als met there. Because all certified levels must also comply with social guidelines in order to be able to offer GOTS certified products (fabrics, yarns, raw materials).
So why don't we use bioRe® cotton for all of our shirts? The reason lies in the availability of the yarns and the fact that we have to use different yarn strengths for our fabrics. Finer fabrics require finer yarns. For example, the yarn in our dress shirts is finer (thinner) than the one for our flannel shirts. Not all yarn sizes that we use for our fabrics are offered from bioRe® sources. For example, we use particularly long fibers for our dress shirts to ensure the necessary quality of the fabric. The yarn from the bioRe® sources is mostly made from so called medium staple fibers. We currently do not use fabrics from bioRe® sources for our dark (Black, dark blue, gray) dress shirts, but from other organic cotton suppliers.
If we consider yarn qualities from the bioRe® projects they are sometimes not available at short notice or their delivery would take longer. Their delivery can take longer if they are not already temporarily stored in Europe. As far as we know, we are currently the only customer of our weaving mill who uses bioRe® yarns to weave any sort of fabric (we had to convince them of this for a long time). As a result, the weaving mill does not (yet) have any stocks of various yarn qualities made from bioRe® cotton. In the case of fabric production, where we have to react faster due to demand, this can affect our delivery time.
The design and coordination of fabric production are very exciting processes for us and we often drive our suppliers crazy because we ask a lot of questions and want to know more precisely where our materials come from. Ideally, we can trace the production processes back to the raw material. As you can see, this is not always possible due to the many intermediate stages. However, we always push our suppliers to obtain the necessary information or, if necessary, try to rely on raw material sources that allow us to fully trace them. Give us a shout if you have more questions. We are happy to answer them.