Kitchings’ group communicates with more than 900 executives in the textile industry about cotton prices and issues such as disasters and production gaps. They also communicate with retail, government and trade commissions, media and other entities.  They disseminate that information to industry leaders “to help them make better decisions.

 “We participate in at least three conference calls daily on the economics and the price of cotton, and we’re also starting to use podcasts to provide information.” These communications efforts will improve efficiency and help ease industry executives’ concerns about price and other issues at the retail level, she says.

One effort will be working with the product development team to identify ways to increase cotton use in women’s dresses. That may include using cotton in a blend to increase the percentage of  dresses that contain cotton.

“We’re working with agricultural research to understand what farmers need.”

A life cycle analysis of cotton, part of a joint effort (Vision-21) by Cotton Incorporated, the National Cotton Council and Cotton Council International, developed to understand cotton’s environmental footprint, traces cotton from seed to final disposal of a garment or other cotton product.

“We talked to more than 1,300 farmers around the world,” Kitchings says, including questions asked about water, energy and chemical use.  They also talked with 18 mills around the world about water and energy and with 2,000 consumers about product use and disposal.

The study shows the highest energy use occurs at the consumer level — laundering requires considerable energy and water use.

Another critical component of the corporate strategy and program metrics team is to “make sure our programs satisfy the industry,” Kitchings says. “We can use that information to improve service.”