Go into any big box retailer or mass merchandiser and there likely will be see large displays of items such as t-shirts, towels, and sheets labeled as “Pima.”
Most likely they were not made with 100 percent American Pima cotton.
Supima success with its worldwide branding program has apparently resulted in widespread exploitation of the name Pima and even consumer fraud.
This misrepresentation of the Pima name is a fallout from Supima’s highly successful branding program where 370 manufacturers, retailers, and spinners in 39 countries pay for the right to use the Supima name on 100 percent Pima cotton products.
It is high end merchandise commanding a premium price due to the quality of the extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Far West Texas.
Supima has been working to develop a DNA technology to identify the cotton in retail products. The results are astounding.
Marc Lewkowitz, executive vice president of Supima, reported at the organization’s annual meeting earlier this year that of 40 products purchased by Supima and labeled as Pima, only 10 percent were made from 100 percent Pima cotton.
Two-thirds were blends of Pima and upland cottons, and 25 percent were made entirely with upland cotton.
The issue is that these products are priced much cheaper than Supima branded products, thus reducing the value of the Supima label.
Lewkowitz vowed that Supima promises to be “very aggressive” in policing this misuse use of the Pima name and consumer fraud. The results of this study will also be turned over to the Federal Trade Commission.
For this to continue, the value of the Supima brand for labels including Tommy Bahama, Land’s End, and Brooks Brothers, among others, would be devalued.