Embracing In-Conversion Cotton

As it stands, organic cotton makes up less than 1% of all the cotton grown world-wide. By embracing in-conversion cotton, we can help to foster a new generation of organic farmers whilst plugging the supply issues we in the textile industry are facing.

Many thanks to Carlotta at Textile Exchange for this fantastic infographic explaining the process of organic conversion

What is in-conversion cotton?

Cotton harvested during a farm’s transition to organic production is referred to as in-conversion cotton. Conventional cotton production is a chemically intensive process which not only impacts the environment but our health as well. It takes up to three years to reach certified organic status, but farmers immediately adopt fully organic practices right away, removing the use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers as well as using GMO-free seeds.

Can in-conversion cotton be certified?

Yes! The leading organic textile standards GOTS and OCS have both recognised the important role in­-conversion cotton will play and provide certification to assure integrity and consumer confidence. Our garments are certified to both OCS and GOTS standards. The OCS certification does not at this time allow in-conversion garments to be labelled as OCS. However the documentary paper trail is all there for customers to see. Our labels will clearly state if the garment is made with in-conversion cotton.

What is IC2?

IC means in-conversion. Two types of IC cotton are available on the market, IC1 and IC2. The numbers refer to the amount of time that the cotton has been grown organically. So IC1 means it’s one year into the process, and IC2 is two years into the process. Currently, whilst certified by OCS, IC1 cotton is not certified by GOTS. Both GOTS and OCS provide certification of IC2, which is why we will be introducing IC2 across the range.

Will it cost more?

We have seen increases in price for all cotton, but organic has been hit hardest due to the lack of supply. In the short term, most brands offering organic cotton are putting their prices up since the overall true cost of a garment has now skyrocketed. The industry is now revisiting the pricing model entirely, and something we can all afford to do is ensure that more is going to the farmers at the start of the supply chain.

Why do some garments state “organic or in-conversion to organic”?

Mantis World have been championing organic cotton since bringing it to the blank garments industry in 2005. In 2019 we switched all the cotton in our garments to organic, however, due to severe shortages and steep price increases, procurement of organic cotton has become increasingly difficult.

With increased customer demand for sustainable clothing pushing many major brands to switch to organic cotton, coupled with human rights violations on cotton farms in Xinjiang, China and fraudulent organic certifications in India – supply has been unable to keep up.

This is where in-conversion can step in to plug the gap. In-conversion cotton has been grown honouring organic farming practices, but is still waiting to be certified as organic. Mantis World embraces in-conversion cotton in order to spread the adoption of regenerative and organic agriculture.

Are garments listed as “in-conversion to organic” of inferior quality?

No. In-conversion cotton fabric is just as soft and sustainable as the certified variety.

Where can I learn more about in-conversion cotton?

For more information on the benefits of in-conversion cotton production visit: https://textileexchange.org/in-conversion-transitional-cotton/


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