What does Supima mean?
The name "Supima" is a licensed trademark owned by the Supima Association of America and its members. It is used to promote textile and apparel products made of 100% America Pima cotton, but is strictly controlled by the Association. The name "Supima" is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.
What is Pima cotton?
Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other locations around the world. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared to gossypium hirsutum to which upland cotton belongs. The primary differences between Pima (ELS growths) cotton and upland cotton are staple length and strength. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or Pima if it is an inch and 3/8 or longer. Its strength and uniformity measurements are also considerably higher than those of upland cotton.
What is the difference between Pima and Supima?
The name "Pima" is the generic term generally applied to ELS cotton grown in the U.S., Peru, Israel and Australia. The name was given to the ELS cotton being grown in the Southwest U.S. in about 1910. It had previously been called American-Egyptian cotton but was renamed to honor the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona, where the government's Pima breeding program was being conducted. "Supima" is the trademark name used to promote and market textile and apparel products made with 100% American Pima cotton. The Supima Association provides licensing agreements to textile mills, manufacturers and retailers for the expressed purpose of promoting specific apparel and textile products in high-end retail outlets. Industry people often refer to American Pima cotton as Supima cotton.
What's the difference between Supima and Egyptian cotton?
All cotton grown in Egypt is "Egyptian" cotton, but it is not all ELS cotton. Egypt is one of the largest producers of ELS cotton in the world, but it consumes much of what it produces. The majority of what it exports is long staple cotton, not ELS cotton. However, the description "Egyptian cotton" conjures in the mind of many consumers the image of the very finest and longest cotton in the world. Egypt does produce and sell some of the best ELS cotton in the world, but it amounts to less than 15 percent of annual global ELS cotton exports, and less than 35 percent of Egyptian cotton exports. Supima cotton has become the cotton of choice among the world's fine count yarn spinners, averaging 40% of world ELS cotton exports per year for the 12 marketing seasons from 1989/90-2000/01.
Why is Supima a premium cotton?
Pima accounts for only three percent of annual cotton production in the United States. Its fineness and longer staple length makes Pima a premium cotton fiber. It is used to spin finer count yarns, which can be knitted or woven into softer, finer and more luxurious fabrics. It is grown in select areas of the far West and Southwest U.S. where the cotton can benefit from a long growing season in a hot, dry climate. Pima cotton is grown almost exclusively on furrowed rows where growers can closely regulate irrigation and other inputs. Its production costs can vary in different states and regions, but it generally runs about the same as upland cotton costs in the same area. Ginning is more expensive because Pima cotton is roller-ginned, not saw-ginned like upland cotton. Pima is grown in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, and typically accounts for 3-4% of total annual U.S. cotton production.
How do Supima products benefit the consumer?
Products made of 100% American Pima cotton will have superior strength to a product made of upland cotton or upland/Pima blended cottons, which will improve the durability and increase the lifespan of the textile and apparel products. Because of the fineness of Supima cotton, more fibers can be spun into a yarn of a given count, which will enhance the feel and softness, drapeability and brilliance of color of a fabric.