Q&A with Brooke Summers

by Sussan, Tuesday 13 Aug 2019

We partnered with Cotton Australia to get in contact with the people behind the fabric. Brooke Summers from Cotton Australia tells us more about her work in the industry.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Cotton Australia.
I grew up on the coast and am now a Sydney girl who’s worked in agriculture for over 25 years. I love working with farmers to tell their stories and connect them with the products they grow – it makes them so proud.  I’ve done lots of things with Cotton Australia, and my most recent role is working with brands like the wonderful Sussan, not-for-profit organisations and sustainability programs to promote Australian cotton in the world textile market. My work takes me from our farms in NSW and Queensland to factories in South Asia where many Australian cotton clothes are made. Some of the best moments are seeing the pride in our farmers when they can see the products they’ve grown in store.

Relaxed, durable and breathable clothing are necessities for the Australian climate, particularly during the summer months. Why do you think Australian cotton is in high demand around the world? What are some of the properties that make Australian cotton of premium quality?
Australians love to wear cotton because of its beauty, comfort and durability. We all know cotton is cool, soft, hypoallergenic and breathable but Australian cotton adds a whole lot of extra value. It’s premium quality and is grown with the highest social and environmental standards in the world which makes it a sought after choice. Australian cotton’s high quality comes from the way the crop is carefully managed by our farmers, the types of varieties we grow to suit local conditions and the high-tech innovations we use to harvest and gin our cotton before it heads overseas for processing. As a result our cotton is longer, whiter, stronger and finer than virtually all others.

Every bale of Australian cotton can be traced back to the farm and even the field where it was grown. Can you tell us more about traceability?
Customers and brands are increasingly interested in where and how their clothes are made, right back to raw materials like the growing of cotton. To achieve transparency in fashion supply chains we need to be able to show where the cotton was grown, and under which certification standards. As our cotton is being picked and made into bales in the field, a barcode with GPS coordinates is attached which stays with the cotton all the way to the spinning mill. This allows our brand partners to trace their cotton, giving them confidence that it was grown on an Australian farm with world’s best practice.

Particularly in drought affected areas, water use efficiency is just one of the ways that industry is improving sustainability. Can you tell us about other ways cotton production is becoming more sustainable
Our cotton farmers have been working on sustainability for over 20 years, and the industry has completely transformed the way cotton is grown in Australia. We’re now seen as world leaders in sustainable cotton, and we have our dedicated farmers who have voluntarily implemented our environmental program (myBMP) to thank for that! We’re using over 90% less pesticides compared to a decade ago, have improved water use efficiency by over 40% and grow three times world average yields making us the most land-use efficient cotton farmers on the planet. Many of our cotton farms are carbon positive and we’re having positive impacts with healthier soils, improved biodiversity and a better balance between farming and the natural environment.

Our Australian Cotton range is now available in stores and online.
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