We introduced our 100% Australian cotton collection in 2019, since then, we’ve proudly been working with Cotton Australia to support Aussie farmers and reduce emissions by sourcing locally.
Meet Stacey Storrier and Jenny Cleton, sister-in-laws who work for their family cotton business in Hillston, NSW. With 20+ years experience in the cotton industry, we asked Stacey and Jenny to share their story and passion for the work they do.
Finance Administration Manager
How do you put goodness into Australian cotton fabric?
I’m part of a family business. We make strategic decisions on the direction of our business and how we plan to move towards our vision.
The Australian cotton industry is one of the world leaders in sustainable cotton, and our business is always looking for ways to improve soil health and water use efficiency on the farm. We also practice zero till farming and integrated pest management technologies. We use science as well as hands on experience and investments in infrastructure to ensure that we can produce the most sustainable fibre and in doing that, we feel that all that helps to provide goodness in the cotton.
What is it you look for as being best practice for sustainability?
We’re always looking to reduce our diesel and electricity consumption and our water use. We ensure that our equipment is looked after and is constantly renewed, plus we use a lot of science and technology to ensure the soil health is kept as healthy as possible and that we’re not over watering our crops and our country.
Where & how is this Australian Cotton grown?
Cotton is planted in September and it’s irrigated and grows over the Summer months when it’s at its warmest. The cotton plant is a desert plant so it likes hot dry weather. It’s harvested around April-May and is sent to the local cotton gin where it is cleaned, seeds are removed and then it’s pressed into 227kg bail. The bails are then sent to the mills to be spun and turned into fabric.
How long from farm to wardrobe does the process take?
I would say it would nearly be a 12 month turnaround. From planting in September, to harvesting in April then being sent to a mill overseas and spun, it then goes onto factories to be made into garments, and finally back to Australia to be sold in stores.
Why is it important that women feel good in the clothes they wear?
Fashion really is more than just clothes. It’s a journey, from fibre to fashion to finding yourself through your style. Your clothes can say a lot about you, it’s a reflection of your personality, a way of expressing who you are without having to speak. Fashion allows everyone to show what they believe in and to create a style that builds confidence and self-worth.
Are there specific things that you look to getting dressed in that give you that confidence?
I like clothing that is fitted and comfortable to wear. I like colour in my wardrobe. Choosing bright, happy colours and textures that make you feel better about yourself.
Tell us about the fabric benefits of wearing cotton clothes?
Cotton is comfortable, it’s soft, it’s breathable. It’s warm in winter and cool in summer. It can be used to create all types of clothing, from socks to underwear, jeans, shirts, jumpers, jackets. From head to toe every single layer of clothing you wear, could be cotton. Cotton can also be used to produce linen and bedding, it’s not only comfortable but it’s also extremely versatile.
What does goodness feel like in the clothes you choose to wear?
Goodness feels definitely comfortable, soft, and breathable. It needs to be bright, cheerful, it needs to make you feel good about yourself when you put it on or even when you look at it.
How is the cotton grown?
At the moment we have already prepped the ground for the crop that we’re going to put in which is usually planted late September, early October. After the cotton is planted it’s irrigated and then once we hit summer from Christmas to March it’s irrigated every 10 days depending on how hot it is to keep up with the flowering so then we’re able to produce good size bolls and plenty of them on the crop. Last irrigation is around early to mid March and then from there we’ll start to defoliating around the end of March through to April. Then hopefully we get a good defoliation and some good weather so that it stays a little bit warm but with a little bit of wind so that you get that leaf to drop off and the bolls to open and that’s when you start to see the white blanket of cotton across the crop. Then picking for us starts around the end April mid May. This year being so mild we didn’t start to pick until end of May.
Can you describe what a boll is?
A boll of cotton will start out as a flower and then it will produce into where the seed and where the nice fluffy cotton is inside the boll and then at the defoliation stage is when the boll is mature and it will crack open and it has 4 sections that will open up and that is where the nice fluffy cotton and seeds are, which is what we want to harvest.
How is cotton good for the ecosystem?
When we first started irrigating cotton which was at the end of the 90’s it was all flood irrigation, so we were still growing it on hills and we were still recycling the water but gradually we have changed over some of our systems over to sprinklers which is more timely also we are using less water to grow the crop and then we have also changes some of the flood irrigation systems to bankless channels which we find that we’re not using a much water with that as well and with the way employment is in regional areas which saves us having to employee an extra person to water over the summer to start siphons.
How many work on the farm?
We have approximately 10 full time staff.
How is cotton good for the farms and the people that grow it?
My Dad started growing cotton when my eldest brother came home from university, so we haven’t always been cotton growers. My children will be 3rd generation cotton growers. Growing cotton is good for our area for employment. We’ve been able to keep on staff all through the drought even with a minimal crop as with cotton you’re able to forward market it.
Can you explain the high quality fabrication process
It’s strong and durable but it also comes down to the fact that a lot of the cotton growers are either BMP accredited which means that the cotton is grown under best management practices right across the farm. BMP means that we induct all of our employees correctly, we’re also on top of any safety issues straight away, we’re following farm standards for bunding, diesel tanks, that we’re keeping the correct records when we spray our crops and ensuring that all our staff are trained correctly in what they are required to do.
Tell us about the fabric benefits to the wearer?
The benefits are that it’s a sustainable product and we only grow it when we have the water that we’re allocated to be able to grow the product. I find that cotton is a very breathable and wearable product. It’s also a fairly durable product and with the washing process of cotton, you’re not adding any extra micro plastics into our environment. Cotton breaks down, so once you’ve finished wearing it, it can compost back down into the earth.
What does goodness feel like in the clothes you choose to wear?
When I buy clothes for our whole family, I’m looking for a natural product, a durable product and one that feels soft against our skin. It’s got to be something that’s not going to irritate and keeps its shape when it comes out of the wash.