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spacer Clothing: Gap Gray Dress with Buttons spacer  

Narrative: Gap gray dress with buttons, collar, and rolled up sleeves, extra small,
made in India, 100% cotton, labels made from 100% recycled plastic.

The cotton process demands cultivators rip out weeds and grass that may compete with the cotton. Land is plowed under and soil is broken up and formed into rows. Cottonseed is planted. The boll matures in a period that ranges from 55 to 80 days. Ten weeks after flowers first appeared, fibers split the boll apart, and cotton pushes forth. The process includes seeding, picking, ginning, and baling. Samples are taken from the bales to determine the quality of the cotton. At this point the cotton plant is defoliated if it is to be machine harvested. Defoliation is often accomplished by spraying the plant with a chemical. It is important that leaves not be harvested with the fiber because they are considered "trash" and must be removed at some point. In addition, removing the leaves minimizes staining the fiber and eliminates a source of excess moisture. Some American crops are naturally defoliated by frost, but at least half of the crops must be defoliated with chemicals. Without defoliation, the cotton must be picked by hand, with laborers clearing out the leaves as they work.

Cotton thread is made of the cellulose from plants. Cotton is picked from cotton plants in the field and compressed into large bales. At a mill the bale is broken, the fibers are opened by a comb-like device, mixed together, and cleaned. The cleaned cotton fibers are called laps. The laps are fed into a carding machine that separates the fibers. Further cleaning, combing, and sorting readies the fibers for processing into thread. Buttons and labels are made from recycled PET plastic from bottles. Workers sort the bottles by color, separating green ones from clear ones. Then workers visually inspect each piece, and remove any foreign objects. The sorted plastic then moves into a sterilizing bath. The clean containers are dried and crushed into tiny chips. The chips are washed again, and the light-colored batch is bleached. Chips from green bottles stay green, and become yarn that will be dyed a dark color. When the chips are thoroughly dry, they are emptied into a vat and heated, then formed.

I purchased this in the summer of 2012 at a GAP Store on 8th Avenue and 23rd Street in a moment of feeling inadequate about what I was wearing. The price was around $45 and I paid with a Capital One credit card, simultaneously buying pinstripe shorts that were on sale and fuscia flip flops, also on sale. I do get a lot of use out of this. In 2010 125,000 workers in Bangalore were owed back wages by factories, who say they were acting on the advice of the leading industry association, the Clothing Manufacturers' Assocation of India.

  mary mattingly