May 2009

The cotton industry has taken a pounding from the economy and environmentalists lately, but the organization dedicated to its survival effectively employs a web site to further its cause. Cotton Inc. launched in 1997, and since then, the site has evolved to become an educational tour and portal for those researching and designing with this popular fabric.

Some helpful features for students and designers include:

  • Textile Encyclopedia complete with videos for each entry
  • “Did you know?” section which offers the origin of denim, corduroy, and t-shirts
  • THE COTTONWORKS® Global Fabric Library - an international cotton sourcing directory
  • Cotton Sustainability page which details cotton’s effect on the environment
  • Lifestyle Monitor articles' survey-based reporting on consumer attitudes and behavior

Despite advances in performance fabrics, cotton will likely endure as a favorite fabric for designers. San Francisco native and fashion designer Alexander Wang worked with Cotton to develop Storm Denim, a finish that makes denim water-repellant, but still breathable. And Shipley & Halmos, inspired by “deliberate simplicity, basic geometrics, raw material” for their Fall 2009 collection, will be using Storm Cotton, another water-repellant finish. If you're interested in finding out which other designers are using cotton innovations in their collections, log on to

Reviewer: Kirstie Harless, FIDM Library Staff Member, S.F.