Americans consume nearly 20 billion new items of clothing each year. Yet few of us know how our clothes are made, much less who produces them. Cotton Road follows the commodity of cotton from South Carolina farms to Chinese factories to illuminate the work and industrial processes in a global supply chain.

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What does a rural town in South Carolina have to do with China? Americans consume nearly twenty billion new items of clothing each year, and at least one billion of them are made in China. Cotton Road uncovers the transnational movement of cotton and tells the stories of worker's lives in a conventional cotton supply chain. From rural farms in South Carolina to factory cities in China, we span the globe to encounter the industrial processes behind our rapacious consumption of cheap clothing and textile products. Are we connected to one another through the things we consume? Cotton Road explores a contemporary landscape of globalized labor through human stories and provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways our consumption impacts others and drives a global economy.

Subject areas: Anthropology, Agriculture, Women’s and Gender Studies, History, Economics, Business, Textile and Fashion Design, Environmental Humanities and Sustainability Studies, Asian Studies

Partial funding for Cotton Road provided by:

Council of International Education, Fulbright Scholars Program

The Fledgling Fund

The South Carolina Humanities Council

University of South Carolina Research Opportunity Program

University of South Carolina Creative and Performing Arts Grant Program

Frank W. Baker


Director, Producer, Videographer, Editor
Laura Kissel

Producer in China  
Li Zhen

Fang Man

Director of Audience Engagement and Outreach
Jessica Bichler

Additional Camera
Mark Gamble
Li Zhen

Technical Support
Mark Gamble
Jimmy Henderson
Heidi Mehltretter
Wade Sellers

Production Assistants
Heather Bauer
Andrew Cline
Tracy Grant 

Chinese to English Translation
Li Zhen

Additional Translation
Guo Jie
Michael Hill
Marco Moskowitz
Elizabeth Peng
Michelle Wang
Zhu Yun

Make a donation to Cotton Road

Praise for Cotton Road from film festival audiences:

"This film is amazing. Provocative, yet never preachy. Not an "exposé!" yet very revealing. This is a story of politics, money, and people." 
"The astounding journey from cotton seed to garment is beautifully told, from the grandeur of the vast cotton fields, shipyards, and mills to the tiny details of a worker's hands gracefully threading a loom. Beauty and ugliness is frankly presented, and moments of stillness in the narrative gave me time to process what I was seeing. It's stunning."  

From scholars and academics: 

coming soon 


From students:

coming soon 



Chronicle and Democrat, March 13, 2015

JUST blog post on Cotton Road and transparency in supply chains, Jan. 22, 2015

EcoSalon, January 12, 2015

Fashion Times, January 8, 2015

Ecouterre interview, January 5, 2015 

UofSC Today, December 8, 2014

WCAI The Point radio interview, July 2014

For a complete list, see the PRESS page and download the press kit.