Supply Pain: If you can't buy it, grow it!
Posted on February 04 2022
A customer recently asked, ‘What’s the deal with your supply chain? Is COVID still that bad in Peru?”
The short answer is cotton. Specifically the organic Pima cotton we use in all of our clothing. From planting cotton seeds to a finished t-shirt is a 16-month process. As COVID struck Peru particularly hard, different parts along that chain were impacted. What's affecting us today is what normally would have been happening months ago - harvesting cotton.
Prior to the pandemic, we were fortunate to get about 80% of our organic Pima cotton from our own two family farms. As far as we know, Fair Indigo is the only clothing brand that has a direct partnership with actual farms in Peru where Pima cotton is best grown. The other 20% we bought on the open market where there's long been a modest but steady supply.
Today that supplemental 20% is non-existent. Why? Pima cotton is much more labor intensive than non-Pima cotton because it has to be harvested by hand. When COVID hit, many farmers understandably moved into non-Pima cotton or food crops that were in high demand during the pandemic.
Our partners asked if we wanted to use non-Pima cotton for a year. It’s a fair question but my answer was quick - no, thanks. We’ve adapted up, down, and sideways to a changing world, but one thing that has only gotten stronger is our customers’ devotion to this fiber – the best 0.005% of cotton on earth. We will not downgrade this quality as it’s central to our sustainability mission – clothing that endures for several years.
If you can't buy it, grow it!
Straight talk here. The cotton shortage impacts our ability to have a bigger product assortment than we have today. But we do have a plan forward. One of our farms recently acquired adjacent land that will triple our cotton harvest. It eventually will provide more than enough cotton for Fair Indigo for the next several years. We planted the new land in November, 2021, the harvest will be in May of 2022 and will be used in clothing you’ll see in very late 2022 and early 2023. The seeds for future success have been planted, literally!
Until then, there's no way to sugarcoat the shortage of our primary ingredient. We'll be introducing some new products/materials soon, but are committed to getting back on track with our bread and butter line - organic Peruvian Pima cotton.
This shortage is why we're focusing our offering right now on the most timeless and successful designs; great Forever in Fashion pieces appropriate every day, every year. The best cotton in the world ensures your clothes will last for many years to come.
Thank you for your continued patience, understanding, and support as we plant the seeds to a more bountiful future.
Co-Founder & President