A mistake t-shirt buyers often make is thinking cotton is just cotton. That a “100% cotton” tag is all you need be assured of a t-shirt’s quality.
EXTRA LONG STAPLE PIMA COTTON VS. STANDARD COTTON
This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth: with raw cotton there’s a huge difference between the top and bottom qualities – influenced by climate, soil, wind, weather, rain, frost, insect damage, right down to the attention to detail from those who pick it. And the most important quality of cotton is always the length of its fibre. The longer and smoother the fibre, the easier it is to spin – spelling the difference between a smooth cut shirt and a dish towel.
Cotton that is classified as “extra-long staple cotton”(also known as ELS and Pima) usually has cotton fibres that average above 35mm; compared to more commonly used cotton, which typically averages less than 25mm. As one of the most exclusive kinds of cotton, it is estimated that extra-long staple cotton grown in the US (American Pima) represents less than 1% of cotton grown in the world.
ARE EXTRA-LONG STAPLE AND EGYPTIAN COTTON THE SAME?
Egyptian cotton is technically a comparable fibre to American ELS Pima cotton. However, experts in the industry say you don’t always know what you’re buying. As outlined in Bloomberg; research carried out in 2016 showed that 83% of tested products labelled 100% Egyptian ELS were partially or entirely made from another type of cotton.
Additionally, much of the cotton grown in Egypt that can be accurately called “Egyptian cotton” is merely long staple, not ELS, meaning the fibres are shorter, weaker, and coarser than ELS cotton.
THE BENEFITS OF EXTRA-LONG STAPLE (ELS) COTTON
- Extra long staple cotton is longer and stronger
- Fabric that’s more durable and keeps shape better
- Colour is also more uniform and longer-lasting
- Garments feel better and softer
- Extra-long staple cotton items are friendlier on the skin
Cottons may look the same to the untrained eye but extra-long staple cotton and regular cotton are actually two entirely different species. Individual extra-long staple cotton fibres are 35% longer and about 45% stronger than conventional cotton varieties.
This longer fibre resists pulling, breaking, and tearing – resulting in garments that are incredibly resilient and keep their form to the last. There are also fewer short fibres, which is why garments made from longer fibres keep their shapes longer and are resistant to abrasion.
longer fibres also secure the strength and softness of garments, while shorter fibres produce yarns that are rougher and subject to pilling (when small balls of fibre become visible on a garment after use).
Colour is another benefit: long staple cotton’s fibre density leads to a uniform colour, as fabrics absorb dye with a deep, long-lasting penetration. And items stay fresh for a longer, retaining their colour better than those made from regular cottons. This also means that white shirts made with extra-long staple cotton stay whiter than conventional white shirts.
Ultimately, yarns made of ELS cotton create the most luxurious and highest quality fabrics – ensuring skin friendliness, softness, cooling, moisture absorption, breathability and above all durability. In our case, this cotton creates The Perfect T-shirt.
EASIER ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Recently, American ELS farmers have been ensuring the best quality cotton in the world with as little impact on the environment as possible. New techniques, from GPS-navigated tractors that plant and harvest the cotton to satellite technology and soil monitors, are ensuring better sustainability.
Farmers are also making efforts to cut down on water use – having switched from flooding to drip irrigation (which uses a network of tubes to let water drip slowly to the plants’ roots). This drip method halves the amount of water required to grow one acre of cotton, while most Egyptian and Asian cotton producers are still using traditional and more wasteful irrigation methods.
SANVT: MADE TO LAST
We want to make a T-Shirt that looks great and will last a very long time. So, at Sanvt, we use only the finest raw materials available. All of our t-shirts are made from highest-grade extra-long-staple cotton – exclusively grown in the United States of America. Working closely with our suppliers helps to ensure the purity of our ELS cotton.
We are convinced that better quality also leads to less waste, which is the first step towards a more sustainable approach towards fashion.
Buy less. Buy better.