With the first-ever harvest of certified in-conversion cotton coming from Pakistan, Bestseller says it is making history with its Jack & Jones brand and vertically integrated denim fabric and garment manufacturer Artistic Milliners.

One year into the Milliner Organic Project, the first crops from the organic farms of Kohlu, Balochistan, are now harvested and have passed the requirements set by the Control Union to be certified as in-conversion cotton, meaning it is in the process of becoming organic.

Milliner Organic secures farm-to-fashion traceability and works in a direct-to-farm approach that focuses on more than securing the supply of cotton. The approach is said to benefit the entire community through farmer trainings and improved livelihoods.

The project aims to transition from Milliner Cotton Organic to the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) Farm Engagement and Development (FED) programme. OCA is a multi-stakeholder organisation fully dedicated to organic cotton.

Bestseller says has been involved in the project since its launch and is providing funding for the initiative. In return, the fashion retailer’s Jack & Jones brand will get access to a share of its cotton.

“This is truly an amazing result so early in the project,” says Danique Lodewijks, senior project specialist, Bestseller sustainability. “We can really see how important it is to focus on a direct-to-farm approach that ultimately aims to take cotton production to the next level. Not only when it comes to traceability and access to organic cotton, but making the livelihoods and well-being of farmers and their communities just as important. It is definitely not easy, but it is the way forward.”

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Artistic Milliners is the first private sector investor in organic cotton cultivation in Pakistan, according to Bestseller. Today, more than 2,000 farmers and nearly 9,300 acres of land are under the umbrella of this project.

“This season’s harvest is the first of many to come from the Milliner Cotton Organic project. As I said before, this will be a game-changer in the cotton industry of Pakistan. We are here to bridge the gap between organic cotton supply and demand for our long-standing brand partner Bestseller,” says Omer Ahmed, CEO of Artistic Milliners.

The in-conversion cotton from this harvest will be included in Jack & Jones’ denim collection for December 2022.

“We are continuously looking at how to improve and innovate sustainability and transparency within our jeans. This project fits our mindset extremely well and is just the beginning of a more transparent and holistic supply chain. We expect to be able to produce 200,000 jeans from the first harvest, and then increase the coming seasons,” says Mikkel Hochrein Albrektsen, creative buying manager at Jack & Jones.

Bestseller recently said it is expanding its partnership with blockchain platform TextileGenesis to trace man-made cellulosic fibres and direct-to-farm cotton throughout its supply chain.

The move will allow it to trace 25m garments this year from raw material to end product using blockchain technology. That represents around 7% of the company’s total volume – a figure it notes will steadily increase in the coming years providing the project meets its objectives.