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Cultivation of the world's highest quality cotton (Gossypium Barbadense) in Ecuador


Stefan Brandt stands for the finest jersey product for men and women in a range of cotton jersey fabrics that are unrivaled in quality throughout the world. Stefan Brandt’s background as a physicist and materials scientist has led him to work on developing new technologies since the 1990s. Throughout the years, he has been able to develop unique cotton fabric qualities with exceptionally unique selling points.

Selected bales of Peruvian ELS Pima cotton ("Selected Pima"), which are processed in innovative ways, play a crucial role here.
Today, Stefan Brandt has succeeded in gradually working out the "South American silk" inherent in super-fine cotton.
The current development "URPIMA® ULTRA" can hardly be distinguished from silk.

Stefan Brandt works today with the most important premium retailers in the world

Scarcity of Gossypium barbadense Cotton

Around the globe, textile companies in the top premium segment are vying for the highest quality cotton in the world: Gossypium barbadense, an ELS (extra long staple) cotton that became famous in Peru as "Pima cotton" and in the Antilles islands of Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua as "Sea Island cotton" (not to be confused with the Sea Islands off the east coast of the USA).

The fiber length of Sea Island Cotton is unrivaled globally, and its quality is strictly overseen by the WISICA (West Indian Sea Island Association).

Stefan Brandt has been working closely with the leading suppliers of Peruvian Pima Cotton for approximately 20 years. Unfortunately, the vast majority of "Pima" cotton exported from there is merely conventional (recently, most imported from India) Upland Cotton, which does not meet premium standards.

The situation is similar with Sea Island Cotton. Most Sea Island shirts offered on the market are not made of Sea Island Cotton, but rather Egyptian cotton. Cultivation in Jamaica and Antigua has been dormant for years. Currently, only about 70 bales per year are produced in Barbados. The Italian Albini Group has signed an exclusive contract in partnership with ECCI Cotton (the association between local small farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture). However, the truly available Sea Island Cotton from Barbados barely suffices for about 50,000 garments per year – a minuscule volume that a small textile production facility with 50 employees could manufacture in 6 months. Yet, each year an estimated 30 million garments labeled as "Sea Island Cotton" enter the market.

As British designer Emma Willis accurately stated: "There are many imitations of the infamous Sea Island Cotton out there but this is the authentic, inimitable real thing and you will be able to tell when you feel its silken touch but with weight. Grown in the ideal climate and conditions of the West Indies, like wine cotton depends on the soil and weather, and here they cultivate their prized cotton with hundreds of years of passed-down experience and care."

The "Supima" Cotton from the USA is indeed available in the market and shares the same DNA "Gossypium barbadense", but with an average fiber length of less than 35 mm, it is merely on par with Egyptian Giza cotton. Consequently, it is not an ELS (extra long staple) cotton and therefore does not qualify for the top premium segment.

Meeting demand

The perpetual struggle for "selected bales" in Peru and the overall market situation demand action. Therefore, in 2021, Ralph Eichenlaub and Dr. Stefan Brandt decided to cultivate this luxury cotton in Ecuador themselves, starting in 2022. The first harvest began on Monday, December 19, 2022.

What few people know is that while one of the best ELS Pima cotton qualities currently comes from Peru and Barbados, the earliest signs of the domestication of this luxury cotton species come from the early Valdivia phase of the Ecuadorian coast (4400 BC). There is solid archaeological evidence that it was first domesticated in Ecuador and later appeared in Peru. And now, here in Ecuador, in the origin region of Manabi, "Gossypium barbadense" is growing. Initially on only 14 hectares, which will yield about 70 bales of the luxury cotton still in 2022. This amount is similar to what is available from Barbados and is sufficient for approximately 10,000 kg of yarn.

The spinning of the luxury cotton Gossypium barbadense

Growing the cotton is one thing, processing it into fine yarn is another. The best references worldwide in this regard are the Albini Group, which includes Thomas Mason, and the Swiss company Spoerry 1866. Peter Spoerry was in the Guinness Book of Records in 1995 for making the finest cotton yarn in the world. Additionally, he serves on the board of the Bremen Cotton Exchange, and is Stefan Brandt's most important partner for processing the Ecuadorian "Urpima®" raw cotton into yarn. Incidentally, he also owns the plantations in Jamaica.

In Ecuador, 14 hectares were planted in 2022. In subsequent years, the aim is to restore the original area under cultivation from 1992 (approx. 32,000 hectares), with the crucial difference that this is luxury cotton, which has been in short supply on the market for decades.

QUITO - 170307

Francisco de Orellana E7-335
Quito, Ecuador

Brandt Textile Germany
Neuer Wall 10, 2nd floor
D-20354 Hamburg
Phone +49 40 822 153 158
Fax. +49 40 822 153 010
VAT ID No. DE 309464481

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