Four major brands recently joined the Cotton LEADS Program, bringing the total number of partners to more than 400 since the program’s inception in 2013.

Recent additions to the growing list of Cotton LEADS partners are Macy’s Merchandising Group, the retailer’s private brands development group; Gildan Activewear Inc., which manufactures and markets branded basic apparel; Bossa Denim, a Turkish textile company, and Carter’s, a brand of children’s clothing, gifts and apparel.

The number of Cotton LEADS partners rose from 252 in December 2014 to 354 in December 2015, representing a 40 percent increase. With the new members, the program now has 422 partners across the global textile supply chain, from brands and retailers to textile and apparel manufacturers and yarn spinners.

These companies pledged their support by signing a “Commitment to Cotton” to include cotton grown in Australia and the U.S. on their preferred supplier lists.

“Sustainable sourcing remains a high priority for today’s retailers and manufacturers,” said Mark Messura, senior vice president of Supply Chain Marketing at Cotton Incorporated, a supporting organization of Cotton LEADS. “Businesses around the world want assurances that the cotton used in their products is grown in a responsible manner. The Cotton LEADS program presents real and credible measurements of production improvements by growers in Australia and the U.S.

Cototn LEADS was founded in 2014 by Cotton Australia and the U.S. Cotton Foundation.

Messura said three things help Cotton LEADS growers produce better cotton: initiative, innovation and the ability to implement on a national scale.

Cotton LEADS is a program committed to responsibly produced cotton. Built upon core principles that are consistent with sustainability, the use of best practices and traceability in the supply chain, the Cotton LEADS program offers cotton users the confidence and knowledge that their raw material is responsibly produced and identified.

Cottons currently in the program are produced in Australia and the U.S. The Cotton LEADS program includes upland and pima cotton varieties that can be conventionally or organically grown.