As more and more Americans are working to become fit and healthy, one of the top athletic clothing companies – Under Armour – has been building a team to help improve its use of natural fibers.  Relying on cutting edge research to provide products that wick away moisture, Under Armour products traditionally were not made of the classic sporting apparel material – cotton.  However, since early 2011, one of the company’s most popular items has been Charged Cotton, a line of clothing that uses cotton — the fabric of our lives.

The Under Armour brand was started by Kevin Plank, a former University of Maryland football player who was tired of wearing athletic shirts that got saturated with sweat.  Noticing that his football pants didn’t get saturated like the shirts he wore under his pads and his jersey, Plank set out to design a shirt made of a similar compression type of material.  He started the business from his own home and the rest is now history.

Under Armour and Cotton Incorporated began working together in 2010 to create the best performing, moisture wicking cotton product using newly developed cotton technology. Together, the companies developed prototype fabrics. Cotton Incorporated worked with Under Armour’s supply chain partners to implement what would become the Charged Cotton technology that was launched in spring 2011.

Based on the success of that product, Under Armour also introduced the Charged Cotton Storm line of water-repellent fleece in the fall of 2011.  The success of these two programs has outpaced expectations, as the Charged Cotton t-shirt is now the top selling product in the men’s category.  Industry analysts expect that Charged Cotton could make $300 – $450 million in sales over the next five years and see a 3 percent sales growth in 2012 and a 6 percent sales growth in 2013.

Cotton Incorporated is a company contracted by the Cotton Board to implement research and promotion activities. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight of the Cotton Board, one of several research and promotion programs that support domestic agricultural commodities.

The move to partner with Under Armour and other brands and retailers is one of the many unique ways that Cotton Incorporated has helped support this industry and increase the consumption of cotton.  The company’s innovative research helps make cotton the preferred choice in many everyday fashion and household products.  The organization is also a leader when it comes to sustainable practices.  From transforming old denim jeans into housing insulation to finding ways to use less water when producing cotton products, Cotton Inc. has made environmental concerns a priority.

The success of the Charged Cotton line has led Under Armour to create a new clothing line featuring Storm Cotton technology.  The new Charged Cotton Storm outerwear line will undoubtedly present even more business opportunities for U.S. cotton producers and importers.