High-Quality Cottons, from SUPIMA to Sea Island, and their Role in Sustainability

The essence of the Supima cotton plant. Long-staple. Quality. Premium.

Cotton is the foundation of the apparel game. Whether it’s high-quality SUPIMA or some commoditized version, it’s the main element in making fabric. And as the global demand for mass-produced garments pushes on, this fluffy crop is fueling the manufacturing supply chain, serving the needs of the big corporate brands and their seasonal collections.

With such important credentials, there is still a good amount of debate about the environmental and social issues related to growing the stuff. There is no doubt that it has a big carbon footprint, but there are initiatives in place, like Certified Organic Cotton and The Better Cotton Initiative, in order to help bring some change.

At the end of the day though, are they enough to make consumers more conscious about which brands to buy apparel from?

Long staple cottons are the main ingredient in creating the lush fabrics synonymous with elevated menswear.

Maybe, but there is another trend that could ultimately lower the industry’s footprint, as it involves consumers who are opting for better-made garments instead of the mass-produced rags. This is about garments made for the long haul - From brands who are transparent in how they make their collections - And of course, with fabrics made from premium, or long staple, cottons.

Long staple cottons like SUPIMA, Egyptian, and Sea Island are exceptional raw materials that create the iconic lush fabrics synonymous with elevated menswear. Overall, the fabrics are softer, stronger, and retain their textures over time. They also absorb dyes better and possess more vibrant colors, maintaining the fresh aesthetics of a new garment for much longer.

A 100% Supima Cotton label defines quality apparel.

And a “100% SUPIMA Cotton” label, for some, is the cream of the crop. The American grown Pima variety creates some of the softest and smoothest cotton-based fabrics on the planet. Brands who utilize it are supporting a business ecosystem that is creating opportunities for U.S. farmers and fabric producers, while also creating apparel reserved for the top shelf.

As for the international crowd, Certified Egyptian Cotton is the long staple cotton of choice, representing the Nile River Delta and the local communities who harvest it.

Giza 45 is the top of the line variety of Egyptian Cotton and is embraced by some of the most elite Italian menswear brands. Their button-up shirts are made with serious gusto and will stay in the discerning aficionados wardrobe for years.

A Sea Island Cotton shirt should be reserved for the weekend outing to Bordeaux.

And that leads to the wonders of Sea Island Cotton, likely the finest and rarest cotton on the planet. It’s grown and hand-picked in the Caribbean and is typically woven by alpine-influenced mills out in Switzerland. Mainly utilized in making dress shirts, but also for ultra-classy tees and henleys, it’s about quality cotton in its purest form. Ideally, it’s best to keep a Sea Island Cotton shirt reserved for a weekend outing to Bordeaux or a day trip to the CEO’s lakeside house.


Choosing garments made with long staple cottons is not necessarily about being an eco-conscious consumer. It’s more about wanting to purchase well-made apparel that will last and get better with time. And with a finely curated wardrobe, there is no need to replace items every season and contribute to the garment industry’s footprint.

Instead, one can keep their apparel for the long haul and appreciate the quality and aesthetics, which ultimately, is way better for the environment.


Aslan Moini