There's a revitalization of cotton in Louisiana--and its not the white fluffy stuff
Despite being a fabric business--despite currently only employing South Louisiana natives--despite all employees being makers in one way or another--none of us had ever planted cotton, the very good that makes Lost Creative Fabrics possible. In fact, none of us even knew much about cotton other than its complicated past. Aiming to dig deep into his southern roots, Lost Creative's art director Jonathan decided to plant a variety of cotton born from the same ground as he was: Acadian Brown Cotton.
Until Jonathan brought up this idea, cotton wasn't something I thought about much. Or really, ever. Between being far removed from my Cajun heritage and getting my Lost Creative Fabrics delivered to my door, the intersection of those two things--cotton--doesn't cross my mind. However, both my heritage--the past--and my delivered fabrics--the future--might be impacted by the growing interest in Acadian Brown Cotton by more people than just Jonathon.
The Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is preparing for an exhibit titled Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana. The exhibit will explore the history of Acadian Brown Cotton. The regional brown cotton carries something with it that cotton balls, cotton pads, and cotton swaps do not: culture. Set apart by its color and its disconnect from slavery (white cotton was more desirable and profitable because of its ability to be dyed), Acadian Brown Cotton contains a rich cultural history of its own: perseverance, self-sufficiency, and cultural arts.
But, this is not to say that Acadian Brown Cotton is only a thing of the past. Local farmers are actively working to preserve the heirloom variety of cotton. Though the culture keeps a local interest in the cotton, international interest in Acadian Brown cotton is spreading because it is sustainable, organic, and small-farm grown, like Jerry Hale's farm in Arnaudville. A result of these efforts has the power to create a sustainable fabric industry within South Louisiana.
Two things that I love, my Cajun heritage and my Lost Creative Fabrics, have one unifying factor: cotton. Both of these things will and have already been impacted by the work of the Acadian Brown Cotton Project. Learning about my culture has helped me to see the joy and focus that others took in making, even if prompted by necessity. The work that this project is doing has the power to impact all of the fabrics we use by one day may be producing a more sustainable way to make fabrics. With the possibility of a fabric industry grown from our soil, I may one day--soon--be able to wear my homeland wherever I go.