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All About Cotton

All fine dress shirts should be made of cotton and even then, not all cotton are of the same quality. Ignore labels and just run your finger over the shirt fabrics, the cotton should feel fine and soft to the touch. Colors are also more defined and brighter on high quality cotton as compared to synthetics. In fact, the best cotton is Sea Island Cotton, a brand name owned by cotton growers in the West Indies..feels similar to silk.  In general, the smoother the fabric, the more formal and higher quality the shirt. The smoothness of the fabric also depends highly on the yarn numbers. Yarn numbers range from 30s found in cheap department stores to the common 80s used by better ready to wear makers to the super 200s. However, thin yarns are but one indicator of quality.

Long staple 140s woven on slow looms that neither stretch nor break the fibres are a better value than some of the 170s rushed to market off high speed looms.  The best cottons are grown in Egypt and the Caribbean and woven in Switzerland and Italy. The finer the cotton, the dressier the shirt. And the longer the fibre, the finer the cotton, because there are fewer knots binding the fibres together. The longest cotton fibres are about 1.5 – 2 inches.  You will often see dress shirt fabrics described numerically as 50’s, 80’s, 100’s, 120s, 140s, 160s, etc. This number refers to the thickness of the yarn: the lower the number, the thicker the yarn; the higher the number, the finer the yarn.

All the best shirt fabrics are two by two, or two ply. Two ply cotton is made of two lengths of yarn intertwined looks superior to single ply cotton because its density and thickness adds lushness.  120’s 140’s 160’s two-ply cottons are the most luxurious (and expensive) dress shirt fabrics. Individual yarns are even thinner, the weave even tighter and the thread count per inch even greater. The fabric is silky smooth and it holds color and pattern extremely well. Although the price of a higher thread count dress shirt is usually twice that of its 80’s counterpart, many men make that extra investment because they enjoy the softness and luster, as well as the finer tailoring details that typically are offered in this luxury shirt.

100’s two-ply broadcloth is a luxury fabric with a silky feel. It is very durable due to its two-ply thread (two individual threads are twisted together) and close weave.  80’s pinpoint oxford is another excellent two-ply fabric. It is also extremely durable, but has more texture (a weightier look) than a broadcloth fabric.  Royal Oxford cloth possesses the durability of pinpoint oxford with more texture (in colored Royal Oxford fabric, you can see a small amount of white in the weave).  50’s Egyptian Cotton, woven of single-ply thread, is a lightweight and durable cotton fabric at a great value.

Why Is Buying In Canada Important?

For me, when I buy Canadian products it is important and I will gladly pay more for the quality. I am always actively searching out made in Canada brands for my personal use. While not everything can easily be found, I think it is important to support Canadian companies who have managed to continue to produce products here during these competitive Global volatile economic times.  Buying Canadian keeps our dollars in our economy because it supports ethical working conditions and fair wage labor.

I love finding new Canadian products don’t you? They are out there, STOP looking short sighted and look and the broader picture and focus on the foreseeable future that’s for sure. Most Canadian companies are not running off huge advertising budgets, but with a little time and focus you will seek them out. Quality and price are always a deciding factor for families and most people when purchasing a new item. Made in Canada can sometimes cost more, not always but when you buy less and buy high quality items buying Canadian Made becomes more affordable.