NC's almost Farm to Closet Co.
North Carolina has a history of clothing mills. The companies highlighted in this series of blogs are focused on bringing back this industry to the US. They are supplying customers with garments made from transparent, US supply chains and quality materials to last for years, not weeks or months. Missed last week? Check my blog about Solid State Clothing.
Week 2 Spotlight: Spiritex Clothing Company
US Organic Cotton Turned into Clothing in NC and SC Fibershed-like Region
Spiritex is an online and in-person shop located in Ashville, NC that sells a full range of US organic cotton products for Women, Men, and Children. BONUS - they also sell an assortment of cotton fabrics to sew your own garments.
Note: In addition, Spiritex sells recycled PET clothing. Make sure to check the fabric content of each garment. They display full details about every garment on the site.
Spiritex is focused on shorting the supply chain and miles clothing takes before it gets to your door. They also want to keep industry in the US and ensure that the organic cotton clothing you purchase meets the high standards you expect.
Mainly because of volume, their organic cotton comes from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC).
Why Purchase Cotton from This Cooperative?
"TOCMC and its members are certified organic under the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA-NOP), and TOCMC is also Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. Each bale of cotton marketed by TOCMC is tracked from the field to the customer. Buyers can know the producer’s name and farm for each bale purchased." TOCMC website
This means that when Spiritex receives each raw bale of cotton, they can track it back to each farm before processing. The cooperative they rely on offers a transparent supply chain and organic cotton that can be trusted.
What Comes Next After the Cotton Arrives?
Spiritex keeps all other processing in an approximately 150-mile radius around their Ashville store. Check out the supply chain in the image below from the Spiritex website. This means the raw organic cotton travels about 1,000 miles from TX to NC and afterward travels a couple hundred miles before becoming a completed piece of clothing.
Add in the miles to even the most distant US location from NC and the total distance from farm to closet is about 3,000 miles—a far cry from the travels of an average global t-shirt. My clothing order traveled about 2,000 miles in total.
A typical t-shirt travels is more than 20,000 miles and some measurements are as high as 39,000 miles from raw material to delivery to a shop or doorstep.
What about Waste?
Large scale mill operators produce waste during the spinning and sewing processes. Spiritex has teamed up with Material Return to turn their waste into clothing and other products. (I have blogged about Material Return before - this is the same company that turns old socks returned in SmartWool 2nd Cut Bags into new products.) This creates a more circular supply chain and gives Material Return organic cotton material to turn into something new.
Don't forget that organic cotton clothing can go back to the soil when you are done with it. After years of wear and a life as a rag, your organic cotton clothing can be dropped into your compost pile and a few weeks later truly return to soil.
When you fully understand the cycle behind your wardrobe, it becomes clear that clothing companies that represent your value system are worth supporting. So next time you need something new, check out Spiritex and Solid State Clothing and feel good about the clothes on your back.