Why the cotton obsession?

Why the cotton obsession?

12 years ago when I started West Indies Wear, we were sailing around the Caribbean islands, living the dream..... albeit on a very tight budget.  Adjusting to the tropical heat became our way of life, as we had sailed from the cooler temperatures of Southern Africa.

Every day we got up early and got our jobs done, so that by midday we were back on the boat, hiding from the afternoon sun..... we hibernated away, coming out again only for late afternoon cocktails.  Here I am hiding from the sun under the awning.

Being a trained fashion designer since I was 21, and someone who cannot walk passed any rack of clothing without FEELING the fabric.... I couldn't help noticing that the local markets and villages sold predominantly polyester and viscose clothing.  Fabrics that filled me with dread in that heat.

.... and so began my obsession with natural fabrics. These islands need cotton I would think to myself, however I never did think to do something about that thought until my colleague from Billabong South Africa said "why don't  you start your own label?"

So West Indies Wear was born with a collection of pure cotton fabrics.  Last season we added a 100% pure cotton hang tag to all of our pure cotton garments, so that you guys could easily recognize which fabrics are BEST for the island heat.  

Did you know that cotton is grown on a bush, first the bush flowers, then the flower falls off and the cotton fibers grow out of the pod that was the flower.  Here is a photo of a ball of cotton growing out of the pod.

You see how there are twigs and seeds mixed up inside the cotton balls, that has to be combed out of the cotton, to get it clean before yarn can be made from it.  Here below, is a great photo of my friends who were driving through the cotton growing area of Australia and stopped to take photos of the massive rolls of cotton, that have just been freshly harvested.

As there are hardly any cotton processing plants remaining in Australia nowadays, most of this cotton is exported to garment manufacturing countries like India & China.

Here is a photo of our new PURE COTTON hang tag on the new Heliconia Tunic for Summer 2020.


For the new collection, we took it one step further with the PURE COTTON hang tag and added some fun facts to the back of the tag.... here is what they are.

  • Cotton is a natural fibre, grown on a bush.
  • Cotton grows wild in many places.
  • Cotton has been cultivated for centuries
  • Historians have found shreds of cotton dating back at least 7000 years.
  • Cotton is grown in 17 states of USA.
  • Cotton is grown in a 180 day cycle.
  • Cotton is picked, pressed & transported to gins where the fibres can be separated from the seeds & processed into fibres, yarns & then woven or knitted into fabric.
  • The worlds most favorite natural fibre is cotton.
  • Cotton allows your skin to breath
  • Cotton doesn’t trap heat inside.
  • Since cotton is breathable it doesn’t hold odors like synthetic fabrics do.
  • Heat rashes are less likely in cotton clothing because of its breathability.
  • Cotton is a soft fabric. It is comfortable to wear.
  • Cotton is a strong fibre, outlasting synthetics.
  • Cotton is 30% stronger when wet, so is less likely to get holes when washing
  • Cotton is an easy care fabric which does not need dry cleaning.
  • Cotton does not cause skin allergies, which is why it is used for bandages.
  • Cotton is so versatile it can be made into many different fabrics and garments.
  • Cotton holds dye very well, so can be made into millions of vibrant colors.

Thank goodness for that, as I also have an obsession for island colors ....but that is another story.


Click here to shop our pure cotton soft Heliconia Tunic.

 Want to remember this tunic? Click the PIN IT button below so you know where to find it when shopping for your summer goodies.

One love x


Back to blog


I, too, love walking through shops feeling the material as I go. Thank you for your attention to detail and providing a great clothing line.

Wendy Venza

I, too, love walking through shops feeling the material as I go. Thank you for your attention to detail and providing a great clothing line.

Wendy Venza

I am originally from South Africa but immigrated to the USA 34 years ago. I lived in Minnesota for 31 years but I am now living in north east Florida. I looked for a cotton pareo but found most of them were made out of rayon and other non breathable fabrics. I was thrilled to find that you only use cotton. I love reading your blog. Thanks Diane

Diane Frichol

I wore my 5 pieces on a recent cruise to the Caribbean. I wore one at a time, folded it and put it in drawer….and time and time again, I wore the same item and it looked great. Came home, washed them and air-dried them all….Now ready for next getaway! Thank you!

Janine Benizio

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.