What is Supima Cotton?

supima cotton fabric close up


Written by Ben Chuang

When it comes to luxurious and high-quality textiles, few fabrics can rival the sheer elegance and comfort offered by Supima cotton.

Known for its exceptional softness, durability, and unparalleled quality, Supima cotton stands as a true testament to the art of textile craftsmanship.

Let's take a deep dive into the world of organic Supima cotton, exploring its origins, unique qualities, and the reasons why it has earned its place as the gold standard of cotton varieties.

Whether you're a seasoned textile enthusiast or simply curious about what sets cotton Supima apart, join us on this journey as we unravel the remarkable story of this extraordinary fiber.

The Origins of Supima Cotton

Native Roots

While cotton was planted in the US as early as the 16th century, the history of Supima cotton dates back to the early 20th century when American cotton growers were on a quest to produce a superior cotton fiber that would rival the best in the world.

The term "Supima" is actually an abbreviation for "Superior Pima," with "Pima" referring to the Pima Indian tribe of Arizona, where this exceptional cotton variety was initially cultivated.

It all began in the 1900s when the Pima cotton, a long-staple cotton variety known for its softness and strength, was crossbred with other types of cotton and strains to enhance its fiber quality.

supima cotton spool manufacturing

The result was a cotton fiber that boasted remarkable characteristics, including extra-long staple length and a fine, silky texture.

American Innovation

The breakthrough came in 1954 when the Supima brand was officially established by a group of visionary American cotton growers who were committed to maintaining rigorous standards for this remarkable cotton variety.

Supima became a registered trademark, guaranteeing consumers that they were purchasing genuine, high-quality American Pima cotton.

Since then, Supima cotton has been grown in the USA, to become the gold standard of cotton fibers, known worldwide for its luxurious feel and durability.

Today, Supima is primarily grown in the southwestern United States, where the arid climate and fertile soil create optimal conditions for producing this extraordinary cotton.

It continues to be a symbol of American craftsmanship and excellence in the textile industry.

What's Special About Supima Cotton?

Supima, short for "Superior Pima," is a premium variety of cotton known for its exceptional quality and characteristics. It is derived from the Pima cotton plant, which is a type of Gossypium barbadense cotton, known for its long and silky fibers.

cotton extra long fiber strand close up

The key distinguishing features of Supima cotton include:

  1. Long Staple Length: Supima fibers are unusually long, typically measuring 1.5 inches to 2 inches (38 to 50 millimeters) in length. This extra-long staple fiber contributes to the cotton's strength and durability.
  2. Softness: Supima is a type of cotton celebrated for its luxurious softness. The long fibers create a smooth, silky texture that feels incredibly comfortable against the skin. Try one of our professional dress shirts that will keep you cozy all day at the office.
  3. Durability: Due to its long staple length, Supima is more resistant to pilling, tearing, and fraying than regular cotton varieties. This durability ensures that flannel shirts made from Supima cotton maintain their quality over time.
  4. Color Retention: Supima has excellent color retention properties, making it ideal for vibrant and long-lasting dyeing. Colors applied to Supima fabrics tend to stay vivid and fade-resistant.
  5. Breathability: Supima is highly breathable, allowing air to circulate through the fabric. This breathability helps regulate body temperature and wick moisture away from the skin, making it a comfortable choice for warm-weather clothing.
  6. Quality Assurance: The Supima brand is a registered trademark that guarantees consumers are purchasing genuine, high-quality American Pima cotton. This certification ensures the authenticity and superior quality of Supima products.

    In summary, Supima is a premium cotton variety prized for its long fibers, softness, durability, color retention, breathability, and strict quality standards.

    cotton bud with fabrics

    What is the Difference Between Supima Cotton and Pima Cotton?

    Supima and Pima cotton are both high-quality cotton varieties, but there are some differences between them:


    • Supima Cotton: Supima is a specific type of Pima cotton that is grown exclusively in the United States, primarily in the southwestern states. It's a trademarked and certified term that guarantees the cotton's American origin and quality standards.
    • Pima Cotton: Pima cotton, on the other hand, refers to any type of cotton produced from the Pima cotton plant. While American-grown pima cotton is popular, it can be grown in other countries as well, including Peru and Australia.

      Staple Length:

      • Supima Cotton: Supima is known for its exceptionally long staple length, typically ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches (38 to 50 millimeters). This extra-long staple fiber contributes to its superior strength, softness, and durability. Try on this textured dress shirt to experience it firsthand.
      • Pima Cotton: Pima cotton generally has a long staple length as well, but it may not always reach the same length as Supima cotton. It can vary in staple length depending on growing conditions and location.

        Quality Assurance:

        • Supima Cotton: The Supima brand is a registered trademark that guarantees the authenticity and high quality of American Pima cotton. Products bearing the Supima label must meet strict quality standards, providing consumers with confidence in the product's quality and origin.
        • Pima Cotton: Pima cotton, when not labeled as "Supima," may not have the same level of quality assurance and origin certification. It can be grown in various regions, which can lead to variations in quality.

          In summary, genuine Supima cotton is a premium subset of Pima cotton, known for its American origin, strict quality standards, and exceptionally long staple length.

          Where is Supima Cotton Cultivated?

          Supima cotton is primarily grown in the United States, specifically in the southwestern regions. The states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas are the primary areas where Supima cultivation is concentrated.

          These states provide the ideal climate and soil conditions for producing high-quality Pima cotton, from which Supima is derived.

          The arid climate and well-suited soil in these regions contribute to the development of the long-staple Pima cotton fibers that are characteristic of Supima cotton.

          cotton fields supima cultivation

          The combination of ample sunlight, hot weather, and minimal rainfall during the cotton-growing season helps ensure the growth of strong and luxuriously soft Supima grown into fibers.

          Supima is known for its stringent quality standards, and it's these specific geographic regions in the United States that consistently produce cotton meeting the high criteria necessary to earn the Supima label.

          Supima Cotton Compared to Regular Cotton

          Supima and regular cotton, often referred to as upland cotton, differ in several key aspects:

          Staple Length:

          • Supima Cotton: Supima cotton is known for its exceptionally long staple length, typically ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches (38 to 50 millimeters). This extra-long-staple cotton contributes to its superior strength, softness, and durability (Egypt is also renowned for producing extra-long staple cotton, typically for bedding).
          • Regular Cotton: Regular cotton, or upland cotton, typically has shorter staple lengths, usually around 0.75 to 1.1 inches (19 to 28 millimeters). The shorter staple length can result in fibers that are less strong and less soft compared to Supima cotton.

            Softness and Comfort:

            • Supima Cotton: Supima is celebrated for its luxurious softness and smooth texture. The long fibers create a silky feel that is exceptionally comfortable against the skin, making it a popular shirt fabric for men.
            • Regular Cotton: While regular cotton is comfortable, it may not have the same level of softness and smoothness as Supima due to its shorter staple length.


              • Supima Cotton: The longer staple length of Supima cotton contributes to its enhanced durability. Slim-fit shirts made from Supima cotton are less prone to pilling, tearing, and fraying, making them longer-lasting.
              • Regular Cotton: Regular cotton can be durable, but it may not withstand wear and tear as well as Supima cotton due to its shorter staple length.

                Origin and Certification:

                • Supima Cotton: Genuine Supima cotton is grown exclusively in the United States, primarily in the southwestern states. It is a certified and trademarked term, ensuring that products labeled as Supima meet strict quality standards and originate from the United States.
                • Regular Cotton: Regular cotton is cultivated in various regions worldwide, and there is no specific certification or guarantee of origin associated with it. It can vary in quality and origin.

                  Color Retention:

                  • Supima Cotton: Supima cotton has excellent color retention properties, making it ideal for vibrant and long-lasting dyeing. Colors applied to Supima cotton fabrics such as this red and blue checked shirt tend to stay vivid and fade-resistant.
                  • Regular Cotton: Regular cotton can retain color well but may not have the same level of color retention as Supima cotton.

                    In summary, Supima cotton is a premium cotton variety known for its longer staple length, enhanced softness, durability, origin certification, and color retention compared to regular, or upland, cotton.

                    How to Wear Supima Cotton

                    Wearing Supima cotton is a delight due to its exceptional softness and comfort. Whether you're donning Supima cotton clothing or using Supima cotton accessories, here are some tips on how to wear and care for them:


                    • T-Shirts: Supima cotton t-shirts are a popular choice for their luxurious feel. They are versatile and can be worn with jeans, shorts, or layered under jackets.

                    • Polos and Henleys: Supima cotton polos and henleys offer a smart-casual look. Pair them with chinos or casual trousers for a refined appearance.

                    • Button-down Shirts: Supima cotton striped dress shirts are comfortable and stylish. They're great for warm weather and can be accessorized with belts, a solid color tie, or a blazer. Here's a guide on matching your ties with your shirts.


                    • Jeans and Pants: Look for denim or pants with Supima cotton blends for added comfort. These pants can be dressed up with a blazer or worn casually with a simple T-shirt.

                    • Shorts: Supima cotton shorts are perfect for hot days. Pair them with a light blouse or polo for a relaxed summer look.

                    Loungewear and Sleepwear:

                    • Pajamas: Supima cotton pajamas are incredibly soft and breathable, providing a comfortable night's sleep.

                    • Robes and Lounge Pants: Relax in style with Supima cotton robes and lounge pants. They're perfect for unwinding at home.


                    • Scarves: Supima cotton scarves are lightweight and cozy. They can add a pop of color and elegance to your outfit.

                    • Socks: Supima cotton socks are soft and moisture-wicking, making them comfortable for all-day wear.cotton socks

                    Caring for Supima Cotton:
                    • Machine Wash: Most Supima cotton garments can be machine-washed. Use a gentle cycle with cold water to maintain fabric integrity.

                    • Avoid High Heat: Avoid high-temperature drying or ironing, as excessive heat can cause cotton to shrink. Instead, use low heat or air drying for better results.

                    • Read Care Labels: Always follow the care instructions on the garment's label, as specific care requirements may vary.

                    Styling Tips:
                    • Layering: Supima cotton is perfect for layering due to its softness and breathability. Combine different Supima cotton pieces to create stylish layered looks.

                    • Accessories: Elevate your Supima cotton outfit with accessories like belts, hats, and jewelry.

                    • Colors: Supima cotton comes in a range of colors. Choose shades that complement your skin tone and personal style.

                      With proper care, Supima cotton clothing and accessories can maintain their luxurious feel and appearance for a long time, making them a valuable addition to your wardrobe.

                      Frequently asked questions about Supima cotton

                      What are the disadvantages of Supima cotton?

                      The primary disadvantages of Supima cotton are its higher cost compared to regular cotton products and its limited availability. Supima cotton products tend to be more expensive due to their premium quality and rigorous production standards.

                      While these drawbacks may affect Supima cotton garment affordability and availability, they are often outweighed by the exceptional softness, durability, and comfort that Supima cotton provides, making it a preferred choice for those seeking high-quality textiles.

                      Is Supima cotton like Egyptian cotton?

                      Supima cotton and Egyptian cotton are both premium, extra-long-staple cotton varieties known for their softness and durable quality. However, Supima cotton is exclusively grown in the United States, while Egyptian cotton originates from Egypt.

                      Both types are celebrated for their luxurious feel, but Supima cotton is recognized for its stringent quality standards and American origin, ensuring consistent quality, while Egyptian cotton, particularly the Extra Long Staple Cotton varieties, is often used in high-end bedding and linens.

                      Does Supima cotton shrink in the dryer?

                      Supima cotton, like most natural fibers, can shrink in the dryer if exposed to high heat. To minimize shrinkage and maintain the fabric's integrity, it's advisable to follow care instructions on the garment's label.

                      Typically, using a gentle cycle with cold water for washing and low heat or air drying is recommended to prevent excessive shrinkage.

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