I recently had the good fortune to travel to Asia to celebrate “Cotton Day” events in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand as president of Cotton Council International (CCI). Consumers clearly love their cotton. We celebrate Cotton Days in May because this is the time of the year in the United States when we go back to the fields and plant the seeds that give us cotton, the world’s favorite fiber. It’s a wonderful fiber – a true gift from the earth.
This year, Cotton Days publicized the COTTON USA “I Love My Cotton” campaign, which encourages consumers and brands alike to share their own reasons for loving cotton. Cotton Days also celebrated the 26th anniversary of COTTON USA, while illustrating the brand’s genuine, passionate and visionary attributes.
One of the aspects I remember most about Cotton Days is the consumers’ irresistible energy and enthusiasm for COTTON USA in the Asian markets I visited. I recall telling CCI staff how I wished I could bottle the energy at each event, and take it back with me to Texas, to share it with my fellow U.S. cotton producers, showing them what we do is highly appreciated. The creativity and excitement generated around U.S. cotton is truly wonderful and a big vote of confidence for our industry.
This consumer excitement for U.S. cotton in our export markets, thousands of miles from my cotton fields back in Texas, hammered home our industry’s critical need for building consumer demand for our fiber. The work CCI is doing in our U.S. cotton export markets translates into more demand for our product through the supply chain, and is truly helping our producers’ bottom line.
During Cotton Days, I saw consumers, celebrities, fashion designers, musicians and the media lined up at our events, proudly wearing COTTON USA clothing. They showed so much excitement for U.S. cotton.
In each country visited, I had opportunities to speak directly to the local industry and consumers, and express my great enthusiasm for our high quality U.S. cotton. COTTON USA’s three essential promises – absolute purity, excellent quality and responsibly produced fiber – truly resonated with those audiences.
As a U.S. cotton producer who typically only sees the production end of the supply chain, I was amazed to participate in the astounding array of overseas promotional events for our fiber.
Cotton Day festivities kicked off in Korea with a fashion event directed by Korean fashion icons Mack & Logan, which featured cotton womenswear in vivid and stylish themes, as well as denim ready-to-wear items. Through cooperation with the Spinners and Weavers Association of Korea, COTTON USA provided the opportunity for young Korean designers to showcase their creativity through the “Cotton T-Shirt Design Contest.” The event closed with COTTON USA music stars, “Epic High,” who entertained the audience with their most recent hit songs.
In Japan, CCI provided opportunities for designers to showcase their creativity through a T-shirt design contest, in cooperation with the Japan Spinners’ Association, Japan Cotton Promotion Institute and Cotton Incorporated. More than 400 industry and media representatives celebrated Cotton Day in Japan.
The celebrations continued in Taiwan with a live music concert by new COTTON USA ambassador group Cosmos People. The band created a COTTON USA theme song, “And You,” to link with ”I Love My Cotton,” which its record company will promote with a music video. Top models presented a fashion show featuring COTTON USA licensed brands. More than 160 representatives from the news media and COTTON USA licensees and consumers participated.
Cotton Days concluded in Bangkok, Thailand, with an “I Love My Cotton” fashion show. CCI selected three top Thai designers and challenged them to craft new garment designs made with 100 percent cotton fabrics supplied by COTTON USA-licensed fabric mills in Thailand. A second fashion show featuring COTTON USA garments supplied by 34 COTTON USA licensees in Thailand capped off the show, illustrating the versatility and importance of cotton for the entire family. More than 500 participants from the Thai fashion and consumer media covered the show for broadcast across Thailand.
It was truly amazing to me to see how U.S. cotton fiber can unify a global industry. Whether through fashion, music or art, COTTON USA inspires creativity in so many people around the world. I’m proud to be part of an organization that captures and conveys such camaraderie around the world.
Experiencing Cotton Days firsthand, one truly feels the energy, enthusiasm, support and trust in our superior U.S. cotton. It’s our reputation built up over the years in these important markets that sets us apart and makes U.S. cotton the fiber of choice. Let’s keep the momentum!
Dahlen Hancock, CCI president, is a cotton producer from Ropesville, Texas.