For the past couple years, we’ve been making a big deal out of Supima cotton.
Supima® this, Supima that. Until your eyes have begun to glaze over.
But we’re giving you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. or Ms. Highly Intelligent Consumer, and assuming you are as fascinated with this unique and special natural fiber as we are.
So here and now, we’re going to fill in any gaps in your Supima knowledge by answering 7 burning questions about it. (Good fodder for cocktail parties, especially if you’re wearing an article of Lands’ End Supima clothing.)
1. How did it get the silly name?
“Supima” is short for “superior Pima,” and only applies to products that are 100% Pima cotton, grown in the USA. Mix in ordinary cotton, even a squinch of it, and it’s not Supima. “Pima” is named for the Pima Indians, who helped develop it in Arizona in the early 20th century.
2. What makes it better than the cotton my Uncle Ralph grows?
What your Uncle Ralph grows down there in Mississippi is ordinary, short-staple Upland cotton. Supima cotton is “extra long staple” cotton, meaning the fibers are at least 1 3/8” long – often almost twice as long as ordinary cotton. The longer the cotton fiber, the stronger, silkier and softer the finished garment will be. Simple as that.
3. Is there a lot of Supima around?
Unfortunately, no. It can only be grown in certain very hot, dry climates like those found in California and Arizona. Only 3% of all garments sold in the United States are Supima cotton, so don’t expect to find any of it on the racks at SalesMaxx or SprawlMart.
4. Did it just spring up out of the ground, like some kind of miracle?
Supima is the product of 200 years of evolution. It all started with Sea Island cotton, grown on Hilton Head Island starting in 1709. In 1825, Sea Island took a trip to Egypt, and was mixed with a cotton called jumel, to create ashmouni. In 1908, ashmouni and sea island were mixed to create Yuma cotton in Arizona, which evolved into today’s Pima cotton. What happened to the legendary Sea Island cotton? Wiped out by boll weevils in 1920.
5. Can I afford Supima on my barista’s salary?
Depends on where you shop. A competitor of ours sells Supima cotton dress shirt for $88. Our Lands’ End version is around $54. ‘Nuff said.
6. Would I know Supima, if I saw it growing in the field, on my way to Disneyland with the kids?
Probably only if it was in its blooming stage – it has a distinctive yellow flower. A cotton farmer we know made a bouquet of it and gave it to his girlfriend, who later became his wife.
7. How come you Lands’ End folks are so obsessed with Supima?
Cotton has always been king at Lands’ End. We’ve used many varieties over the years, walked many a cotton field, worked with cotton people from farmers to ginners to spinners to weavers and knitters. But we’ve never run across anything as special as Supima.
8. Can I go now?
Yes, you’ve been very patient to read this far, and we wish we could buy you an ice cream cone.
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