Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
jdavis

Zimbabwe cotton and the Mugabe regime

Recommended Posts

..and also to concentrate on unbleached cotton. Unbleached cotton has been used on several early repros, including LVC, and looks just as good as the bleached version for jeans, if not better.

Hey, i've been asking for more unbleached jeans for years now. It simply looks better!

Regarding the skimming of the profit from cotton. I still don't think it will make a dent in the big guys.

Unless they are getting forced to grow cotton to sell then i'm pretty sure we will be shitting right down their throat while claiming to be holy.

The optimal solution would ofc be what Paul T said, and we should start hoping it can happen. That, though, has nothing to do with jeans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this has probably been asked before, but what's so good about zimbabwe cotton? also it's not like the buying zimbabwe cotton made jeans will sustain mugabe's regime. mugabe's regime isn't going to topple over because a small fraction of zimbabwe cotton sales have gone down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People here seem to think that a boycott is simply about the financial/political ends it produces, but sometimes a boycott can just be about saying "fuck that! I don't want to be a part of it." Just because boycotting zimbabwe cotton, which I don't know will have any affect on Mugabe and his regime, doesn't topple the regime, doesn't mean that a boycott is completely pointless. You can just do it for the statement. And like Paul T said the farmers are probably better off growing food for themselves than cotton for us consumers to waste on some trend that will die out sooner or later.

It seems like the, "it is just going to hurt the farmers." argument is just a easy way of saying, "I don't want to change my lifestyle so I will find some great excuse."

Anyways, unbleached cotton is way more "rad and badical" than bleached. It has a nice yellowish hue to it and when the jeans fade they have a "dirty look" to them, plus no need for all that other bleach crap, stronger fibers. Win. Win. Win. Can't go wrong with that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like the, "it is just going to hurt the farmers." argument is just a easy way of saying, "I don't want to change my lifestyle so I will find some great excuse."

Well said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well said.

Alternatively, refusing to buy zimbabwe cotton products demonstrates a lack of insight into how the Mugabe regime is sustained. If you really wanted to leave an impact, you'd be protesting the aid and development packages that are essentially being given to Mugabe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's absolutely valid, too. International aid is one of those issues that never gets analyzed closely enough because it's so ethically loaded.

Still, I think that rnrswitch's statements apply to consumer activism in general, not just in the case of Zimbabwe.

People need to remember that in America, your dollars are votes. Every single time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally don't know the dynamics of the Mugabe regime, but someone calling on a boycott with little knowledge of the result, is the same as someone saying not to boycott without knowing the end result.

Anyways, I am all for direct action, taking to the streets, pulling back international funding, and just letting your voice be heard, but for those that don't have the kind of time or power to do that kind of stuff then a boycott as a state,emt, is a great alternative.

I have a colleague in Switzerland who is a big wine enthusiast and he loved wines from california, but after the Iraq war had started and other moronic stuff by the Bush administration he chose to stop buying the wines from America. This didn't affect anything, but to him he didn't want to do business with a country he thought was morally wrong, nor did he feel as ecstatic when he received the wine from the states. Just said "fuck it, my values are bigger than my wants." I can admire that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a colleague in Switzerland who is a big wine enthusiast and he loved wines from california, but after the Iraq war had started and other moronic stuff by the Bush administration he chose to stop buying the wines from America. This didn't affect anything, but to him he didn't want to do business with a country he thought was morally wrong, nor did he feel as ecstatic when he received the wine from the states. Just said "fuck it, my values are bigger than my wants." I can admire that.

All due respect to your colleague, this to me simply seems like a way to sleep well at night.

Heck for all i know, those californian winefarmers hates Bush more than he does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All due respect to your colleague, this to me simply seems like a way to sleep well at night.

Heck for all i know, those californian winefarmers hates Bush more than he does.

Ohh please. It is real easy to sleep well at night in Switzerland no matter what wine you buy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a colleague in Switzerland who is a big wine enthusiast and he loved wines from california, but after the Iraq war had started and other moronic stuff by the Bush administration he chose to stop buying the wines from America.

and let's be serious: wine from california is a ripoff anyhow...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW:

Can someone please throw in a cue so we can start discussing the trade regulations that the EU/USA has and which will continue to screw over the cotton farmers no matter what government they are blessed, or in this case cursed, with?

I just can't seem to find the right angle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me: Zimbabwean cotton is a bit of a throwback item, like natural indigo. Zimbabwean cotton was used in classic Lee jeans.

I thought I'd bump this excellent thread.

Incidentally, I checked with Cone, who made Levi's denim (which in this thread was linked with Zimbabwe cotton) and Lee Jelt, and they used exclusively cotton from the Carolinas. In the pre 1920s this would have included Sea Island cotton.

Erwin Mills, who supplied some of the Lee Sanforized fabric, reputedly used N & S Carolina cotton too - the reason cotton mills in the south prospered, while those in the North closed down, is that they were nearer the cotton fields. I'd be surprised if any of them ever used Zimbabwe cotton. It is likely, though, that most of it, especially in the earlier days, was mono-crop. Whether that makes a significant differecen to the quality is moot, but I'll ask.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yo paul, your'e saying there is no real advantage to single-cropped cotton?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a Denim aficionado who is into 100% Organic Cotton, then Zimbabwe guarantees just that. Their methods of growing cotton is too primitive and labor intensive. Fertilizers are too expensive, so, the farmer resorts to other natural means of making the soil fertile. Their crop is not genetically modified.

The Zimbabwe double cropping means ground nuts we used to replenish the soil with Nitrogen and not Nitrogen fertilizers like everywhere else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

to be honest, i was bugged-out when miki-san said his cotton is hand-picked. as the son of slaves, my initial reaction was''here we go again'', followed by skepticism. do people still bend their backs to pick cotton anymore? but i guess if anybody does, it's in zimbabwe. that's why i'm wearing mine until they are dust, since somebody broke their fucking back for this shit, albeit for a paltry wage. gordon once told me that the FC contest jeans are made from leftover cotton miki-san had from making the 15th anniversary jeans, so that tells me miki doesn't buy huge amounts of cotton at a time, perhaps due to price.it also tells me he sources the cotton, and then has it spun and woven in very small batches instead of just going to a mill and buying some zimbabwe-cotton denim already available( which i've learned isn't all-that expensive or superior). i know all zimbabwe cotton isn't superior(that's like saying any weed you buy in BC or norcal is certified finest), but the best of it is great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People might not still bend their backs to pick cotton, but they still do to pick strawberries. I see it everyday on my way to work. People bustin their ass to pick strawberries that I buy and sometimes don't even finish and they need to go into the trash. How ungrateful of me huh? Then to top it off, we try as a country to kick these people out of our country. Hmmmm.

Am I off topic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, me and my grandmother( who used to hand-pick cotton, amongst other things) used to go a little ways outside of town to pick strawberries, snap-peas(green beans), and collard-greens. i lived in africa for a while, and i know for sure american technology and methods circa 2010 hasn't reached most areas. so the idea of people in zimbabwe hand-picking anything isn't out of the question. makes me appreciate it more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey Ness,

i'd like to know more about Zimbabwe cotton. Is it species hirsutum or barbadense?

To learn about Zimbabwe Cotton, you will have to be right there with the locals, learning Ndebele and Shona. They speak English very well though and are friendly. Just boil the water you drink and you'll be fine. What is strange will be why the books say this and the people do the exact opposite and they still achieve good results.

Its mainly Barbadense, but hirsutum species are also there. Cross contamination is also there. There are some ancient wild species as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote from ness:

''The main areas that produce Cotton in Zimbabwe and is of best quality is Chegutu, Kadoma, Gokwe and Sanyati. A single Cotton produce depletes almost all Nitrogen in the soil. To replenish this, Ground nuts are planted in the next season. The nuts will return almost all the Nitrogen back to the soil.

Another thing I like about Zim, is that the political situation guarantees that no pesticides are used. Instead farmers resort to the use of natural predators, traps and hand picking of pests.

Zimbabweans as laborers are the best, especially when they follow a certain doctrine. So, hand picking of cotton is still highly practiced.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Selvage Seb.
We should all, over time, start pressurising the high-end makers to investigate the use of hemp, and also to concentrate on unbleached cotton.
Adding to what Paul T said,

Kuyichi now makes organic denim in very innovative cotton blends.

For example; bamboo denim, hemp denim, linen denim and even a fabric made from wood pulp, called lenpur

And what to think about soja denim, I want to have a raw pair for sure!

They also use vegetable tanned leather for their patches, belts and jackets.

Probably most of your denimheads are not that much into their commercial collection, but their Pure Premium line rocks!

The prewashed selvage denim looks better than PRPS and the most realistic I have seen yet.

And how cool is a dry denim that will vary at random bacause they're made of leftovers?

http://purepremium.kuyichi.com

Funny ironic to what Salaami stated about capitalism, this is a European brand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yo paul, your'e saying there is no real advantage to single-cropped cotton?

If there's a lot of interest on this subject, I can go down to Zimbabwe and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. I'll bet you, nothing that goes on there is written down, farmers just know it as it was passed down from the British during the colonial days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its mainly Barbadense, but hirsutum species are also there. Cross contamination is also there. There are some ancient wild species as well.

For the record, ZIm cotton does seem to be mainly Albar SZ 9314, a short staple, upland cotton, Gossypium hirsutum.

Thanks to ringring for finding the information and posting this link elsewhere:

http://www.thecottoncompany.com/html/Products-%20Services/seed_co.shtm

There's more information about the varieties and cultivars used in zimbabwe here, where they describe their cultivar of Albar as medium staple:

http://www.moa.gov.zw/arexfiles/researchstations/cottonresearch.htm

Naturally, there are many other factors that affect cotton other than its staple length. SHorter staple varieties tend to be hairier, like 70s Levi's, a look that's very fashionable in Japan. Nonetheless, at least some of the claims about ZIm cotton, especially its staple length, seem to be marketing spiel.

Of course, marketing spiel has been an integral part of the appeal of denim, from the 1920s at least, when Levi's survived the depression by out-advertising its competitors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm actually doing my thesis paper on this at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Specifically it's on analyzing various cotton growing techniques and economic policies for Africa as a means of development.

I don't specifically know that Zimbabwean cotton is that much better than any other cotton. Perhaps there is a difference in illustriousness and length and strength but I imagine this is negligible, especially when you consider that over 200 million tons of cotton are produced in Zimbabwe each year, there's bound to be a great variance in quality. Within Harare's cotton trading organizations farmers' cotton are given different grades of quality and given different prices based on that grading system (this is sometimes a fair grading system and sometimes not)(grading is often based on average length of the fiber more than any other factors). Anyway my point is that PRPS, Momotaro, Kicking Mule and others probably do source better cotton, probably very high grade cotton in Zimbabwe, which on average probably has a marginally higher median grade of cotton as a whole. But still, I at least feel that the only reason why they boast about this is to try to justify their prices by saying that you are getting the very best possible, when really the very best possible when in reality this cotton is about 1% stronger or something like that.

As far as human rights issues, it's incredibly difficult to understand. My belief is this. Because cotton is a cash crop many farmers, if they choose, should grow and sell it and it's a viable way out of poverty. And if that's the case than PRPS, Momotaro and Kicking Mule might in fact be contributing to the growth of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector by buying Zimbabwean instead of say American. But how can we know? Do the farmers get a fair price or not. I've emailed both Momotaro and Naked and Famous and commented on their Facebook pages asking them question about how they source their Zimbabwean cotton(through what cotton ginning company or what location in the country, ect...). Momotaro replied saying that they couldn't release any information about where they source it from while Naked and Famous flat out never responded to me and ended up deleting my facebook comment on their page. I later commented again pointing out that they had ignored me and removed my comment even though I wan't being offensive and they deleted that comment as well.

They don't want you to know where they source, not necessarily even because they source from illegitimate places but because they themselves are ignorant to the situation in Zimbabwe and they themselves don't know if their buying cotton from these places(ginneries/cotton tradeing companies) is beneficial or harmful to the smallholder farmers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ohh and as far as organic, I'm not sure weather I'm a prominent for it or not. Is is more environmentally friendly but if these farmers that are relying on cotton as a means to survive are getting a much lower yeild per acre by growing organic, I don't think organic is financially better for them. Then again, organic cotton, even if you aren't able to produce as much of it per acre, can fetch a higher price at market and can therefore perhaps be beneficial. The only problem with this logic in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, is that in order to have your cotton be internationally recognized as organic it has to be certified by an international third party organisation. Getting certified organic is expensive, time consuming and very difficult, especially when these small scale farmers don't even know how to go about the process of becoming certified. I therefore would believe that very few small scale farmers are certified organic, and it's more likely only the large scale farms in the area that are certified. I believe actually the united states would have a much greater percentage of cotton farmers being recognized as farming organic than if Zimbabwe, even though almost everybody in Zimbabwe is farming organic. It's not because they want to it's because they don't have access to pesticides and fertilizer, ect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^I'm by no means "in the industry" or as informed as others on the topic...That being said, there is definitely a level of secrecy by all the Japanese brands (perhaps more than other countries' brands due to cultural reasons), and by extension, secrecy of the mills that produce their fabric and by what methods the materials (ie: cotton) are sourced. There's probably a level of protectionism in that regard by not wanting to answer your question, although I can't speak to the legitimacy/illegitimacy of said materials overall. I've found that in most areas of life, things tend to be in the middle ground more often than not...

FWIW, I love and miss these types of discussions on sufu...a throwback to the old days, with ringring, pacioli, paul t, etc. etc. dropping knowledge, i'm glad paul t is at least still around... ;)

Edited by aho

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since most denim companies buy their denim from the mills, companies like N&F may not even know about all that stuff. I'd say the best thing to do would be going straight to the mills and ask them, if possible.

Really, I think the burden is on the mills and manufacturers to ensure that they source products through ethical means. If we had a moral obligation to research everything we bought, we'd spend a whole day buying fruit at the grocery store; it's just not practical. If you know that a manufacturer is doing something bad, then by all means don't buy their product; I just think the blood is on their heads, not yours.

Edited by Cold Summer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Luisa via Roma (US)
    Brand - 125 x 125