I am a student at the London college of fashion and am currently writing a dissertation about the Uzbekistan cotton industry and the crisis over there. I am desperate need of some primary sources for my research and wondered if anyone had any information about the subject. Maybe a supplier who uses Uzbek cotton? or someone actually from Uzbekistan? Any info could help!!
my paper, if you're interested. Only mentions Uzbekistan a little.
You'd be hard pressed to find a supplier admitting to using (knowingly, as it's hard as hell to know where your fibers come from) Uzbeki cotton. The majors, like Walmart, M&S, Nike, etc. are all swearing they're doing their best to avoid it.
The problem is, most textiles are milled in China, which is awfully close to Uzbekistan, and many Chinese mills/factories/etc will tell their customers one thing and do another. So we really have no way of knowing who's using Uzbeki cotton, particularly if it's milled in China. I interviewed Nike's sustainability director for CleanTechnica.com, and she is interested in DNA tracking for cotton, a newish technology that enables a fiber to be recognized at any point in its lifecycle. That, and using <100 mile radius vertical manufacturing facilities, like PACT does in Turkey, are probably the only ways to ensure child and/or slave labor weren't used to pick the cotton.
As for speaking with someone from Uzbekistan, that would be amazing! The only person I could imagine even possibly knowing where to start on that would be someone like Greg Mortenson, who's gone into Afghanistan and Pakistan to build schools. Or maybe there's an Uzbekistan refugee center somewhere you could contact?