Cotton is an ancient fibre known for its versatility, natural comfort and performance. Since the pre Christian era, cotton is woven with matchless skill and its fame spread across various countries. Cotton pieces are said to be found in the tombs in Egypt and Peru. Cotton pieces were found in a Mexican cave which is believed to be around 7000 years old. Herodotus has described cotton as tree wool and cotton plants as a wild tree which has fruits of wool. Such is the enthralling virtue of cotton.


Various Retail Applications of Cotton:


Cotton is primarily made into yarns and threads to be used in the manufacture of clothing that constitutes to 60 percent of the cotton consumption. It is also used to make home furnishings like cushions, mattresses etc.

Cotton outputs:


  • Apparels - that are 100 percent cotton and also a fine blend of other fibres.
  • Home textiles - curtains, cushions, draperies, rugs etc.
  • Medical, surgical, and sanitary products.
  • Industrial abrasives.
  • Book bindings.
  • Accessories like handbags, shoes etc.


Various products are made from cotton. 63 percent of the cotton fibres are used in apparel manufacturing, 29 percent in home furnishings, and 8 percent in manufacturing of Industrial products. The fibre that is separated from cotton called lint is used for making fabrics, automobile products, cords etc. The linters obtained from cotton seeds are rich in cellulose. Fibres taken from the cotton plant is used for making paper, cardboard etc. Hull of cotton is used as fertilizer. Cotton is an important fibre for the manufacturing of towels, wash clothes; bath robes etc and contribute to nearly 100 percent of the total market. It is used to manufacture every type of clothing including in-flight space suits, and has a major contribution towards boys and mens clothing with more than 70 percent of the market with jeans, jackets and other garments.


With different finishing process applied to cotton fibres, various special materials are made which are put to different uses. It is effectively used in fishnets, coffee filters, tents and book binding. Fire hoses were earlier made out of cotton. In industrial uses of cotton, grades defined by the US Department of Agriculture are generally accepted as the world standards for cotton fibre quality.


Cottons Influence in the Global Fibre Market:


Cotton always remains a fibre of preference. The most widely used kinds of synthetic fibers are nylon (polyamide), polyester, acrylic, and olefin. Compared with other natural and synthetic fibres, cotton fibres stand second, next to polyester. The growth of polyester fibres was strong and gradual that it actually surpassed cotton during 2003. Still cotton remains many of the customers preference due to its unbeatable virtues of non allergic nature, comfortable wear, cheap and easy availability etc.


Current and Projected Percentage of cotton trend in the Fibres Market



Share of cotton in Global Market:


China is the leading producer of cotton in the world followed by India and U.S. Other important cotton producers are Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. All cotton producing nations are highly dependent of labor; hence countries with more human density are likely to flourish in this trade.



Cotton consumption has shifted mainly to developing countries due to the increasing wage level in the developed countries. The major use of cotton is in the textile sector, in which labor force accounts to one sixth of the total production costs. Increased labor costs have minimized or rather eliminated the competition of the developed countries and has shifted the cotton processing to developing countries like Asia and China that have abundant availability of labor. Despite the decreasing share of cotton in the global market, its consumption keeps increasing. This gives a crystal clear indication of both the strength and weakness of cotton.


Greener shade of the cotton segment:


Retailers nowadays are looking for the shade of green in cotton as in provides a two fold benefit to the environment as well as it gives a good profit margin also. Organic cotton, cultivated without using hazardous pesticides and fertilizers is now springing up the retail scenario. Globally consumers now are becoming more and more conscious for environmentally friendly products especially in clothing.


During 2006 the demand for organic cotton was 40,000 metric tons and is expected to grow by 100,000 metric tons in 2008. Estimated organic clothing sales are 2.6 billion USD during 2008 which is a 116 percent of average annual growth rate. A Massachusetts-based association estimates that by 2025, the sale of organic cotton will reach 6 to 7 percent of the total clothing sales in the U.S. India is the largest producer of organic cotton in the world, producing around 15,000 tons annually, in an average.


It is cheaper to produce and also does not cause any soil damage. Several farms in Africa have been adapted by popular global brands, and organic cotton is cultivated in these fields. Currently, organic agriculture is practiced in 120 countries world wide.


The strength of cotton is its ability to absorb and release moisture, readily available, and is relatively cheap. On the contrary, its inconsistency with a long and often complicated process chain comparatively with other synthetic fibres indicate its weakness. Cotton provides employment opportunities to millions of people at various stages of its life time starting from field to fabric with versatile applications. Hence cotton is rightly called the fibre of thousand faces.










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