Cotton and "Cotton" - why does 100% cotton garments feel different?

Have you ever wondered why, holding two shirts in your hands, both labeled as "100% cotton," you had the irresistible impression that they were made of two different materials? Do you want to create your own collection of cotton garments but are unsure about the meanings of terms like "Organic," "Ringspun," "Open-end," or "Combed"? Why did your favorite cotton shirt shrink after washing? You will find answers to these and other questions in our article.

Cotton and "Cotton"

In the minds of many consumers, there is a belief that in order for a garment to be of good quality, it is sufficient for it to be made entirely of cotton. Often, our customers choose textiles based on the criterion that they are made solely of cotton, without any other added materials. Is this a good way to obtain the highest quality garments? Not necessarily. To understand the factors that influence the final quality of a T-shirt, we need to go back to the very beginning—the stage of cotton production.

Cotton is one of the most popular materials used in the textile industry. It is frequently employed in the production of clothing, bed linens, towels, and many other products. However, despite its popularity, cotton is not always equal in terms of quality and durability. There are many different varieties of cotton, each with its own characteristics and properties. Some cotton varieties are more durable and resistant to damage, while others are softer and more delicate. The choice of the appropriate cotton variety is crucial for the quality of the end product.

Cotton is cultivated in various geographical areas, and growing conditions can vary significantly. Factors such as soil, precipitation levels, temperatures, and farming methods all influence the quality of cotton. If cotton is cultivated under unfavorable conditions, it can result in irregularities in fiber structure and a decline in material quality.

Here are a few countries known for producing high-quality cotton:

  • United States: "Gossypium hirsutum" cotton is well-regarded for its quality and durability.
  • India: Indian cotton is known for its softness, long fibers, and high quality. The Indian variety known as "Shankar-6" is particularly esteemed in the market.
  • Egypt: Egyptian cotton is considered one of the highest quality cottons in the world.
  • Peru: The Peruvian variety of cotton called "Pima" has long, high-quality fibers that give fabrics exceptional smoothness and strength.

Another significant factor influencing the quality of cotton is the harvesting and processing process. If cotton is harvested at the wrong time, it can lead to fiber damage and loss of strength. Moreover, improper processing techniques such as inadequate cleaning, washing, or dyeing can result in loss of shape, fabric stretching, and unevenness. Manufacturers of cotton garments and other products may employ various techniques and production methods. Improper manufacturing processes can lead to irregularities, such as uneven distribution of cotton fibers or improper joining of fabric components.

Ringspun or Open-end?

Alright, now that we know the factors that influence the final quality of cotton, how do we know the journey cotton has taken until it reaches the store shelves as clothing? This is where the labels provided by manufacturers come into play. Most of us have come across labels like "100% cotton" or "organic cotton." There are as many cotton labels as there are stages in the production process. Let's familiarize ourselves with some of the most popular ones:

  • 100% Cotton: Indicates that the product is made entirely of cotton and does not contain other fibers.
  • Organic Cotton: Signifies that the cotton has been grown in accordance with the principles of organic farming, without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals.
  • Pima Cotton: Indicates that the cotton comes from the Pima variety, which is prized for its long and strong fibers.
  • Supima Cotton: This type of cotton comes from the Pima variety but is grown in the United States. The Supima label is a registered trademark and indicates the high quality of this cotton.
  • Egyptian Cotton: Indicates that the cotton originates from Egypt and is known for its high quality, softness, and durability.
  • Recycled Cotton: Signifies that the cotton has been produced from recycled cotton materials, such as old garments or fabrics.
  • Blended Cotton: Indicates that the product contains both cotton and other types of fibers, such as polyester, in specified proportions.
  • Slub Cotton: Denotes that the cotton has uneven, "slub" fibers, giving the fabric a unique texture and appearance.
  • Ring Spun: Indicates that the cotton fibers have been spun using ring spinning technology, resulting in increased strength and smoothness.
  • Combed Cotton: Signifies that the cotton has undergone a combing process to remove shorter and less desirable fibers, enhancing the quality and uniformity of the material.

What to choose?

Now that we have learned about the journey from raw material to store shelves and how this journey is labeled on textiles, how do we choose the right and highest quality option? There is no golden rule for that. Each of us has different preferences. Some prefer textiles that are more shiny, while others prefer smoother ones. To choose the best solution, it is best to have firsthand experience with the material.

We have years of experience in garment labeling. We have dealt with hundreds, thousands of different cotton varieties and configurations. To fully meet the expectations of our customers, we always recommend products from the Stanley/Stella brand, of which we are an official distributor. Since its establishment in 2012, Stanley/Stella has focused on simplicity, emphasizing the essence of clothing. The brand is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) and holds numerous certifications that highlight its ecological approach, such as The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), The Organic Content Standard (OCS), The Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®, and PETA-approved. They offer a wide range of textiles made from organic cotton or recycled polyester.

We warmly invite you to visit our showroom, where each of you will be able to choose high-quality textiles.

Textile decorations from design to finished product, from A to Z. Embroidery and prints on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and many other types of clothing and accessories are our specialty.

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