Currently organic cotton fabric that we use for making our products is legally imported from India (see list of our suppliers here). It’s simply because we were not able to find local supplier that is based in Indonesia. But thankfully because I attended sustainability talk event by Project Semesta last November, I get to know the owner of cotton textile producer, PT Ratu Kencana Textile (RatuTex). It turns out they supplies organic cotton fabric which we have been searching all this time.
So we visited RatuTex in Jatiluhur to learn more about fabric production and the dyeing process, as well as the special requirement for organic cotton. The input material for the whole process here starts from cotton yarns. The cotton yarn itself is made by other factory in Indonesia, but the raw cotton is mostly imported, because it is hard to grow cotton in Indonesia.
The cotton yarn is then put into knitting machine to create the fabric. After that, it will go through hot wash and cleaning to strengthen the fabric. Currently RatuTex only has knitting equipment to produce ‘knit’ fabric. Therefore, it can’t produce ‘woven’ fabric yet, because it requires different equipment.
For dyeing, RatuTex has its own laboratory to develop and test its own dye. This also includes the dye for organic cotton which has stricter requirement that is governed by GOTS (Global Organic Textile S). Once the dye is fully tested, it can be used for production to create solid color for the cotton fabric. And the waste from dyeing process will be processed by waste management system, so that it does not impact the surrounding environment.
After this visit, now we understand why RatuTex is only able to produce solid color for their organic cotton ‘knit’ fabric. This is because it requires different kind of equipments to make other kinds of fabric ie: ‘woven’ fabric, pattern print fabric. Making fabric with stripes pattern is actually possible with current equipment if we can have organic cotton yarn that is already dyed with GOTS standard. But unfortunately there is no supply yet for dyed organic cotton yarn in Indonesia.
Personally the visit was a very good experience for me. I learned not only how cotton fabric is being made, but also get insight about the current state of sustainable textile ecosystem in Indonesia. While the range of local organic cotton fabric is still quite limited, I feel this is a good start towards better textile industry in Indonesia. And we hope more and more will also be moving to organic cotton fabric, so that the ecosystem can progress further.
P.S: We have plan to use this locally produced organic cotton fabric for our upcoming new product. So stay tuned!
Founder of Cottonaries