American consumers if given the choice would prefer to buy cotton products they know are grown and made in the USA, while U.S. cotton farmers long for the time of a dynamic domestic textile industry when they knew much of the cotton they grew went into sheets, shirts and towels made at home.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. Most of the cotton products sold today are milled and manufactured in Asia and you would be hard pressed to know where the cotton used came from. However, there is hope. A handful of companies are committed to manufacture cotton products that are marketed as grown and made in the USA. They prove it can be done.
In Moulton, Ala., cotton farmer and ginner Mark Yeager and his daughter Anna Yeager Brakefield launched Red Land Cotton in 2016, where they market high-end bedding and bath towels milled and manufactured from cotton their family grows and gins. After the Yeagers harvest and gin their cotton for the collection, it is spun in South Carolina, woven in South Carolina, finished in Georgia or South Carolina then cut and sewn in Moulton.
In South Carolina, farmer Atwood McIntosh has enjoyed success with his Homegrown Cotton business where he markets high-quality men’s polo shirts manufactured entirely in the United States from cotton grown on his Kingstree farm.
The latest entry in the market is the Rooted Collection by Wrangler, which features state-specific jeans and t-shirts made from sustainable, traceable-to-the farm cotton from five farms in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Each jean is milled, cut and sewn in the United States.
The five farms participating in the program are Newby Family Farms of Athens, Ala., McLendon Acres of Leary, Ga., Lassiter Family Farms of Conway, N.C., Pugh Farms of Halls, Tenn., and Vance and Mandie Smith of Big Spring, Texas.
These products are all high-end specialty goods. They do show cotton products can still be grown and made in the USA. However, the challenge is to mill and manufacture cotton products here at home which are geared to the mass market. For that, many obstacles remain.