Why only 100% Cotton?
Living the 40 hour work week? You probably knows how gruelling it can be to be contained in a shirt while trying your best to move around and get as much done as possible. Work life can lead to unbelievable stress levels, not to mention the punishing commute from home to work in the all-too-familiar traffic jams. Stuffy heat, pouring rain, and air-conditioning set at unreasonably low temperature (or high temperature, depending on the season) do not help, much.
A shirt you love will love you back and make the 40 hour work week easier. A high quality shirt means a shirt with great cut, great fit, and great look. And most importantly, great fabric.
Let’s start with fabric – because it is the stuff your skin is in contact with all the time. A high quality shirt is made from natural fabric, and cotton is the best choice. Not only is it soft, it is also breathable, making for a comfortable wear. In our opinion, man-made fabrics, polyester blends and chemically treated fabrics are better avoided. These may cost less, and come in all sorts of attractive colours and patterns, they are not kind on your poor skin. They don’t allow the pores to breathe well, choking the skin.
Cotton has been used as textile since time immemorial. Fragments of what was once cotton fabric have been found in some parts of the world, dating from 5000 BC. With the invention of the cotton gin during the Industrial Revolution of the West some 200 years ago, the cost of cotton production lowered tremendously, resulting in its widespread use until today.
There are many types of cotton fabrics – some are silky-smooth and fine, while others are rough and heavy. Of course, cotton used for shirts are soft and smooth, while the rough variety have its own usage, like our loved jeans. The differences that make these are the thickness of the thread (or yarn) and the weave of the fabric.
The ‘American Upland’, ‘Asiatic’, ‘Egyptian’, and ‘Sea Island’ are the four major types of raw cotton. From these, numerous varieties of cottons are produced – some categorized as 80’s, 100’s, 120’s, 140’s – to name a few. These numbers are actually thread counts, or more specifically, yarn size. The higher the thread count, the smoother and silkier the fabric is. A 100’s fabric means there are 100 hanks or yarn in one pound, one hank being 840 yards. So the higher the thread count, the more compact the thread is, resulting in a higher quality finish. That is why the higher the number, the more expensive the fabric.
But there’s more to the construction of the fabric than just the thread count. There are also ply (the number of yarns twisted together to make a thread), warp and weft (vertical and horizontal directions of the thread), and ‘pull’ (this gets rather complicated; essentially this is how the fabric is pulled together, in terms of the way the threads are running in both the warp and weft directions). And all this is just the beginning of the cotton shirt story. There are others to look up – the twill, the brushed twill, the broadcloth, and the pinpoint Oxford – these are just for starters.
The fascinating world of cotton makes for an exciting study of what’s available out there as far as choices for shirt fabrics are concerned. It is no wonder that nowadays, even the simple act of buying a shirt can be a most rewarding experience, especially if you have chosen the right one!
Arnaud Rousseau recommends only 100% cotton shirts. The Luxire line uses the best cotton varieties available. Available at http://Luxire.com Also available at Amazon.com and your fine shirt store.