Cotton is a hugely versatile material that can be used for so many different purposes. Clothing remains one of the most popular uses for cotton and there has evolved a staggering range of different weaves. But there are also different types of cotton and one viewed as a superior version is pima cotton.

Gossypium barbadense plant

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All about Pima
Pima cotton is a type of cotton known as extra long staple cotton (Gossypium barbadense). It can be spotted by its yellow flowers and black seeds. Other types of this cotton include Egyptian Giza, Indian Suvin and Sudanese Barakat cottons. Pima cotton is grown mainly in Peru, south-west USA and Australia. Its name is for a group of American Indians who first cultivated the plant in the US, though it originated in Peru. The plant has a natural chemical called gossypol that protects it from insects and damage by fungus.To qualify as Pima the threads need to be 50% longer than normal cotton strands. It only accounts for around 3% of the cotton grown in the US each year. This is because it can only grow in certain climates and needs irrigation to survive. The work needed to produce the plant means it is most expensive than other cottons.

Where can you find Pima?
At the moment, the main US production areas as Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. Pima is a close cousin to the famous Egyptian cotton, often used in towels and bedding. The main different is that Egyptian cotton has a more extensive weave. This makes it very soft and extra absorbent of water. The areas that grow Pima are similar in climate to Egypt. Therefore, Pima is similar to Egyptian cotton but has a shorter length. It can also be woven multiple times to create a dense yet soft fabric.

Cotton Plant

Wearing Pima
Pima became popular in the early 20th century, is used in towels, and sheets but also clothing. In clothing, both women’s and men’s items are made. One popular option is for woven sweaters as they are lightweight but warm. Socks are another popular use for Pima because they are soft and dense. They also tend to last longer than other type of cotton. When it comes to dress shirts and polo shirts, Pima is considered an ideal cotton. The length of the cotton makes for particularly luxurious feeling shirts. Yet at the same time the material remains fine feeling and not bulky. This is because the weave uses lots of threads and so is strong yet soft. So this makes for a high quality shirt that looks professional and classy. It is sometimes even combines with silk for an extra element of luxury. 

Disadvantages of Pima
One of the only disadvantages of the cotton is due to an advantage. The material is very absorbent to water but also to sweat. Due to this absorbency, it can stain when worn for a period of time. To combat this, some manufacturers use a special stain guard. This protects the material of the shirt from its own absorbency. It also makes the shirt more durable as those stains don’t spoil the look.