20 Years of Cotonea - Brand Anniversary

Cotonea – 20 Jahre Jubiläum

View into a warehouse for organic raw cotton in Cotonea’s partner project in Uganda © Cotonea Klaus Mellenthin

Family business with sustainable appeal.

This autumn, the organic cotton brand Cotonea is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Elmer & Zweifel, the traditional company for cotton textiles from the Swabian town of Bempflingen, launched Cotonea in 2003 as a brand for organic and fair cotton products. Since then, Cotonea has stood for 100 percent organic, consistent sustainability and high-quality fabrics and textiles. Roland Stelzer, Managing Director of the family-owned company, which was founded in 1855, has not only made a far-reaching entrepreneurial decision with this orientation, but has also taken on a pioneering role with Cotonea for sustainable management in the textile market, which is characterised by fast fashion. "As a value-based company, we emphasise with every product how to behave in a appreciative, fair and preserving manner towards people and the environment and at the same time build an economically sound basis," says Roland Stelzer.

Success Factors

The uncompromising focus on organic products as well as complete transparency towards customers and partners are key success factors for Cotonea. Cotonea produces according to the currently highest standard "IVN Best" and is also "Fair for Life" certified. This seal of approval is only awarded to products for which both the cultivation of raw materials and each stage of production are carried out in accordance with socially fair criteria. Cotonea is the only company in the textile industry worldwide to have its entire production chain certified in this way. At the same time, Cotonea makes all its supply chains transparent and thus traceable to the origin with its own product passport. For both business and private customers, this comprehensive transparency means above all security and the knowledge that they have made a responsible decision. "Long-lasting organic cotton fabrics, fair working conditions and wages as well as traceability are the exact opposite of the usual fast fashion principle," says Roland Stelzer. Not following the mainstream and profit maximisation, but following one's own conviction and responsibility, has been the company's attitude for over 20 years.


As early as 1995, the cotton specialist began processing organic cotton and, building on this, has continuously expanded its sustainability expertise. The creation of the Cotonea brand was accompanied by the first contractual partnership for the cultivation of organic cotton, first in Kyrgyzstan in 2004 and then in Uganda in 2009. Both regions combine favourable climatic conditions with sufficient rainfall. Thanks to the close and long-standing cooperation with local partners in Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland, Cotonea knows all the stations along its production chain on a personal level: From cotton cultivation to spinning, weaving and knitting of the fabrics to finishing and packaging. With the opening of its own sewing workshop (2013) and the launch of its own children's clothing collection (2016), Cotonea took further next steps.
In the Material Change Index (MCI) global sustainability ranking published in 2022 and 2023, Cotonea once again took first place among German textile brands in the categories of organically and fairly produced cotton. In its overall assessment, the MCI ranks Cotonea as a "Leading Company Driving Change in the Industry".

Looking Ahead

Cotonea wants to continue to play this role as a sustainable and innovative company in the future. "The ecological and social challenges in the world are so huge that every single company has to set ambitious goals and meet them. As sustainability pioneers, we have been taking our responsibility seriously since the 1990s, continuously making our company more sustainable and thus making a contribution to preserving our livelihood," says Managing Director Roland Stelzer. Cotonea continues to develop its product range in order to extend the appeal of the Cotonea brand to a growing group of customers.
To this end, Cotonea will continue to be committed to projects and topics that are directly or indirectly part of its core business. These include, for example, biodiversity and soil health, as well as innovative projects such as the Textile Tracker research project, which can be used to prove the origin of cotton in the laboratory. This also includes the Textile Trust pilot project for transparent traceability of the supply chain based on blockchain technology, in which IBM is supported by Cotonea.