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Where Does Pima Cotton Come From?

We have something of a soft spot for pima cotton, but we understand that this high-quality fiber remains a mystery to many. With all the different labels used to describe and market cotton products, the aisles of your average home goods store can be a confusing place, even for educated consumers. So for those who’ve done a bit of homework but want a deeper dive into the origin of pima cotton, we’re here to offer insight from the inside.

Pima Cotton 101

Pima cotton is one of the two distinct species of cotton that end up on store shelves. The most common type is Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), comprising nearly 90% of all cotton produced around the world. The remaining 10% is made up of two higher-quality cottons — Egyptian cotton and pima cotton. Both of these cottons are actually the same species of “extra-long staple cotton” (Gossypium barbadense), with longer, silkier individual cotton fibers for a premium fabric that is both luxuriously soft and incredibly strong. While Egyptian cotton, when it’s authentic, is a premium fabric that originates in the Nile River Valley, pima cotton has a decidedly American story.

Pima Cotton’s History and Properties

Because it’s considered the finest cotton in the world, it’s no wonder that farmers were keen to cultivate extra-long staple cotton on American soil. Pima traces its roots to cotton that was grown on the famed Sea Islands of South Carolina as early as the 1790s. Through selective cross-pollination with Egyptian varieties throughout the 19th century, producers developed a uniquely American extra-long staple cotton. This cotton, originally called American-Egyptian cotton, offered an incredibly high-quality fiber that resulted in a luxurious fabric as soft as it was strong. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the U.S. Department of Agricultural got involved, working with the Pima tribe of Arizona to perfect this young crop. It was in honor of these pioneering farmers that the USDA named the American extra-long staple variety “pima cotton.” The 1950s saw great advances in pima seed quality, and innovation on this superior quality crop continues today through the efforts of our pima farmers in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

How to Be Sure Your Pima Cotton is Really Pima

The only real way of knowing you’re getting authentic pima cotton and not an inferior or blended cotton is through scientific verification. PimaCott tracks its pima cotton from farm to store and tests it for purity at multiple steps along the way. This ensures that the products made with PimaCott are made with only pure pima cotton. That’s more than just a label; it’s scientific fact — and a difference you’ll feel and appreciate every day.