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History of Pima Cotton

We started this company for the same reason so many entered the business world. There was something we wanted to buy and did not see anyone else providing it for sale. For us, the pursuit of the perfect t-shirt always started with quality fabric that is comfortable, looks great and was low maintenance. One of the most important debates we had in the beginning was what type of material to use, and we landed on Peruvian Pima cotton. Turns out that we were not the first to identify the benefits of this superior fabric…

What is Pima Cotton?

The main difference between Pima and other kinds of cotton is down at the fiber level. Pima is longer with around 1 3/8” compared to the typical cotton products you may toss on after participating in a local 5K or visiting a big box store. Those are only about 1/2” to 3/4" long. That size difference means Pima cotton is far more resistant to fraying, tearing, and wrinkling, so it holds up under frequent use as part of a simplified wardrobe. The longer fiber length also results in a much softer and smoother fabric feel, almost silk-like but without the sheen and restrictive washing requirements!

As we were looking for a go-to option for nearly any occasion, it only made sense to go with a fabric that could handle the needs of a busier type of man. We’re talking about the gentleman that needs to toss in a quick load of laundry after hitting the gym and does not want to spend too much time deciding what to wear next. With Pima, you get about 50% more longevity because the premium fabric does not pill, meaning you can wash and reuse a shirt many times over. Let’s get a bit more into the history of where this fabric comes from and why we love it so much.

Where Does Pima Cotton Come From?

While there are quite a few places that grow Pima cotton, we stick to the “white gold” produced in Peru. This has a vibrant history dating back to around 3,100 BC in Huaca Prieta, just north of Lima. There are also signs of Paracus mantles in use from about 700 BC. These are what people use to wrap bodies in during ceremonial burials. Morbid, we know! Then again, the desire for comfort and longevity was clearly at a premium at this point…

This fabric became essential to the culture, life, and development of indigenous people from Norte Chico, Moche, and others. You can find cotton weavings from the Incas and artistic depictions of Pima cotton fields on wall murals, pottery, and inside the many museums celebrating Peru’s history around the world.

Eventually, other countries began to explore Peru, including the Spanish conquistadors. We can leave the details out as those do not paint the best picture, but the cliff notes are basically any other cultures that visited Peru fell in love with the quality of Pima cotton until it became a massive export.

How Pima Cotton is Used Today

It is kind of amazing to consider the historical clothing worn by different Peruvian people is still in wide use throughout the world today. You can find countless international brands using Pima cotton.

The modern Peruvian Pima cotton is actually a little different from the ancient kind found in history. It was improved using non-GMO practices when researchers were helping an American tribe forge economic independence. That was in Arizona, but the improved strain was brought back to Peru, where it grows the best in hand-cultivated environments.

In 2019, the total Peruvian exports of garments and textiles reached $1.3 billion. That is a significant piece of the prize, and a large swath of that number is because of Pima cotton.

You can find Pima cotton in everything from the men’s premium t-shirt bundles we sell to women’s sundresses. Everyone from fashion designers to retail magnets wants to use Pima in their clothing lines because of the advantages the fabric brings to the table.

Pima cotton is incredibly comfortable to wear. The resulting clothing made from Pima cotton tends to be lighter, longer-lasting, and highly resistant to continual washing after use. In addition, it has this lightweight feel that is surpassingly warm, offering an excellent comfort balance in most climates.

The Future of Pima Cotton

Pima cotton ticks all the boxes socially conscious shoppers want in a product. It is more environmentally friendly, does not involve harsh chemicals during production, and is hypoallergenic for those with sensitive skin. The only downside is that due to needing to be harvested completely by hand and the unique growing conditions it requires, Pima cotton is significantly more expensive than other products.

For those insisting on the best quality, the price is more than worth it. We love having Pima cotton as part of our capsule wardrobe and men’s t-shirt collections. It offers superior comfort and longevity that makes it a welcome staple to anyone’s fashion selection.

As more industries move towards sustainable manufacturing and production, you can expect to see Pima cotton become even more popular in the future years. As for now, we are happy to be on the “cutting edge” of fashion forward thinking.

If you want to see what Pima cotton looks like in action, check out our premium men’s t-shirts. They may be a bit different from the ancient clothing of the indigenous people of ancient Peru, but the quality, durability, and breathability are all because of their hard work cultivating this fantastic material.

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