Organic Cotton Fields
The Chincha region of coastal Peru, some 150 miles south of Lima, is home to the lush cotton used to make Maggie’s Legging/Tights/Cams/Tanks/Tees and Scoops. Here, steamy days and cool nights combine for a perfect climate for this super-luxurious variety, but it is an art to coax it out of the ground and through the 6 month arid growing season. With climate change as the new reality, risks abound. Last year our farmers needed unexpected aid to cover the cost of special mid-season irrigation. So this year we begin a more direct relationship with our specific growers, either in the form of a pre-planting deposit like we have with our Nicaraguan cotton farmers, or to purchase needed machines. Responding to what farmers say they need, instead of purchasing what will look good in PR photos, is what we call real fair trade.
In crop year 2015, for the first time, the cotton gin used for Maggie’s Peru products will begin processing Organic Cotton exclusively. This will save time and money as no extra cleaning will be required, and has enabled the gin to receive GOTS certification. Over 60% of a cotton harvest is lost during ginning, consisting of short unusable fibers, field trash, and seeds. In conventional cotton, this is also where most pesticide residue remains (and what ends up in cottonseed oil, dairy, meat and more.) Working with our supply chains on continuous improvement in quality, environmental improvement, and living conditions is what we call real fair trade.
Our spinner is still a family-owned mill, which was created by a consolidation of several mills in Peru in the 1990s. They specialize in the slower, less stressful spinning that our fine quality cotton requires. They became GOTS certified in 2013, and our yarn is spun on a dedicated Organic line. We work with them because they are fully transparent, allowing us access to all areas of and employees in their facility. They also have a growing domestic market, which we believe delivers better working conditions and opportunities for income growth for workers. Reviewing all employment practices of each supplier we work with is what we call real fair.
We began working with a new family-owned Peruvian knitter in 2013. Thanks to a new testing protocol worked out with this facility, we have dramatically improved the stretch and recovery in the fabric used in our Leggings, Tanks and Scoops. Recently certified to GOTS, this Lima facility is helping to improve the quality of all of our fabrics. Also a note here about our trading partners in Lima: We have worked with this group since 2004 as they have developed from a first rate agricultural program to an on-the-ground partner at all stages of post-harvest production. We are impressed both with their dedication and their willingness to help us improve. Loyalty to the supply chains we develop over years is what we call real fair trade.
Cut & Sew
The final partner in this fully GOTS certified production chain is a brother-sister run sew shop that produces amazing quality while meeting tight deadlines. Whether working to improve our current styles or developing new, we work together to assure that our decisions are best for both and recently instituted a worker incentive program to increase productivity through individual rewards. Including our producers in developing our designs and decision-making is what we call real fair trade.