As one of the stable materials used in clothes for every season, cotton is an important commodity to the daily lives of most Americans. Cotton is such a ubiquitous product in our wardrobes and homes that it’s easy to forget how this material begins as a seed sown in the soil.

Cotton isn’t just a natural textile used to make high-quality clothing at an affordable price. It’s also an agricultural product that plays a big role in supporting the local economies of Mississippi farmers. Before you make your next big clothing purchase, take a few minutes to brush up on the important role cotton plays as a global commodity, and how it offers excellent performance as a material in your wardrobe.

The global importance of cotton to the fabric industry

Cotton has a long history in the United States and around the world. It is the most widely used natural fiber found anywhere in the world, making it one of the easiest types of clothing to find from any fashion company or clothing store.

In 2017 alone, global cotton production eclipsed 120 million bales. At roughly 500 pounds per bale, that equals more than 60 billion pounds of cotton production. The United States joined India and China as the top producers of cotton, combining to account for more than half of the world’s total harvested cotton.

“The United States itself is the largest single exporter of cotton, selling this commodity to other parts of the world to be used in clothing and other textile production,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “While these exports are key to supporting local farming economies, much of our produced cotton still stays within the United States to be used in producing clothes, fabrics and other everyday textiles for your home.”

The benefits of cotton as clothing fabric

As a material used in your wardrobe, cotton offers a number of benefits that have helped maintain its popularity in clothing over the years. Most people love cotton because it’s an article of comfortable, all-purpose clothing that can be worn in all seasons, is durable, and is available at an affordable price. In hot, humid conditions, cotton also offers moisture control, helping wick sweat away from the body to keep you dry and cool.

Cotton has been shown to rarely cause allergic reactions, which makes it a safe clothing fabric for almost anyone. The material is also soft and doesn’t irritate your skin, which prevents the development of rashes and other mild skin problems that other clothing fabrics may cause. And because cotton is made from natural plant materials, it doesn’t have the chemicals and other synthetic materials found in other fabrics such as polyester and rayon.

How buying cotton fabrics support Mississippi farmers

Cotton is one of the top crops in Mississippi, which makes it a vital part of the farming economies that support local workers and families. Increased demand for cotton products can lead to higher prices for bulk cotton, boosting farm revenues while still keeping cotton products affordable to anyone buying these items.

“Like any commodity, cotton is dependent on continued demand from consumers to give farmers and their families the ability to earn a living wage,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “When you buy cotton products, you’re continuing to drive that demand at a local level, creating a sustainable economic outlook that serves your community as a whole, while also improving the quality of your clothing.”

As the August commodity of the month, now is the perfect time to think about the role of cotton products in your daily life, and to take time to appreciate how this simple crop has contributed to some of the best clothing in your closet.