Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean works with plantations and small farmers to produce West Indian Sea Island Cotton (WISIC). The mission of ECCI is to be an efficient producer of superior quality 100% West Indian Sea Island Cotton finished goods and value-added cotton-based products for supply to local, regional and global niche markets.
By a unique combination of nature and nurture, this variety of the species G. barbadense, can only be grown to perfection in the unique climatic conditions of Barbados and a few other Caribbean island states – producing cotton with a rare combination of qualities: an extra-long staple, fine uniform texture, great tensile strength, silky luster and an incredibly soft feel. To protect this valuable and rare cotton it is gently harvested by hand in Barbados. International protection of this variety begun when the West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association (WISICA) was formed shortly after WWII.
What is WISIC
West Indian Sea Island Cotton (WISIC) fibres are among the longest, strongest and silkiest. It is also one of the rarest -only 4/10,000th of 1% of the world’s cotton is WISIC. It is grown on the small land masses of the Caribbean Islands which have the right amount of sunshine, rain, humidity, as well as a dry season and wet season in the right sequence for the right duration.
Historically, WISIC was grown in Barbados for over 300 years. Up to the late 1950s, it was harvested and sold commercially to spinners in Lancashire, England and dominated the market due to its exceptionally high quality. WISIC did so well that it was endorsed as the finest, longest and strongest of all fibres by the cotton testing and industry standards commission – the Shirley Institute – in England. This valuable and costly cotton was a highly prized resource of the British textile industry, producing luxury fabrics and lace for the aristocracy. Furthermore, Queen Victoria insisted on it for her handkerchiefs and Edward VIII swore by it.
Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean operates the only Ginnery and buys all commercially grown cotton to separate the seed from the fibre. Yarn and fabrics, processed primarily in Italy, are made available for sale at our Groves Store. We engage local manufacturers to make a number of clothing items for off the shelf purchase and made to measure as well.
Tours of the Ginnery are conducted Mondays to Fridays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.