The Cotton Labs: From Dirt to Shirt


The Cotton Labs in North Carolina aren’t just near and dear to our hearts – they’re essential to the fashion industry. Here Cotton works alongside brands to bring tomorrow’s designs to life, merging digital innovation with centuries-old tradition.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking you behind-the scenes where all the magic happens. First up? Our Fiber Processing Lab. This is the area where we prep the raw cotton material– from bale to yarn.

The Touch, the Feel.

Remarkably, the cotton that’s brought in is super soft but has bits from the farm in it – leaves, stems, etc. And although the machines at the Cotton Labs are massively intimidating, they are very gentle while cleaning the cotton so you’re left with the highest quality.

Do the Twist.

The machines work by constantly blending fiber together—5 pieces of ‘rope’ into 1, and so on. Every step of the way, the cotton is soft and as easy to pull apart as a cotton ball (easier, really). It is not until the end of the process where these parallel fibers are twisted tightly together to create materials that are most consistent to the cotton yarn we know and love.

Hello, Fashion.

Here’s where the magic happens. Designers at our labs work closely with the processing team to provide digital sketches of what they want a final garment to look like; the processing team then programs their computer to create the design. From there, the processing team creates cards of how the fabric would look in a garment. They show the cards to the design team, get any feedback on tweaks needed, and the team makes adjustments until they’ve reached the ideal thread!

The Cotton labs are one of those rare places where tradition and ingenuity work hand-in-hand. It’s overwhelming to realize the industry’s boldest trends are created HERE—a laboratory in North Carolina. The process showcases teamwork and beautiful craftsmanship, and the warm reminder that cotton really can do it all.

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