Thursday, July 12, 2012

What is Egyptian cotton?

Are you facing the same above question every time you are buying a cotton product like shirts, bed sheets or towels? Do you find yourself wondering WHY are the Egyptian cotton products more expensive? is it worth the investment? These are all valid questions and hopefully the information below will clarify and help you make the right decision.
Why the name?
Egyptian cotton comes from where its name suggests - Egypt. The humid conditions and rich soil in Egypt along the Nile River Valley create the perfect conditions to grow long cotton fibers (also known as staples) which are used in Egyptian cotton fabrics.
What is Egyptian Cotton?
Egyptian cotton is extra long staple mostly made from a cotton plant called Gossypium barbadense or from Gossypium hirsutum, both native to America. It was believed to be derived from sea island cotton or by hybridization with Peruvian cotton. These plants were introduced to Egypt in the nineteenth century by Egypt’s ruler, Mohammed Ali Pasha, who developed them as a cash crop to support his army. The plant is tropical and grows as a small, bushy tree requiring high humidity and rainfall. It contains the chemical gossypol, reducing its susceptibility to insect and fungal damage.
Egyptian cotton has longer fibers then regular cotton (about twice the size) and can range from 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/4 inches. Their long length  allows them to be spun into very fine yarns. These yarns are soft and lustrous yet are very strong and durable.
What are the qualities of Egyptian cotton?

Cotton made out of Egyptian fibers is more breathable and becomes softer over time with use. Regular cotton fabrics are rougher on the skin while Egyptian cotton is softer on the skin. It produces less lint and will not pill. This high-quality fiber is long and narrower than other cottons, allowing thread counts of up to 1,000 per square inch (Thread count is how many threads of cotton are woven lengthwise and widthwise into an inch of fabric). Egyptian cotton usually has a higher thread count, this provides a lighter weight and extremely strong, long-lasting durability. Egyptian cotton lasts considerably longer than the average cotton.
Another property of Egyptian cotton that makes it high quality is its ability to absorb liquid. This ability allows it soak in dies that give the final product very vibrant color that lasts longer than some other cotton products.
All of these factors makes Egyptian cotton a higher quality product, which obviously reflects in the price, however investing in good quality DOES pay off.
This is the reason why all my BOAZ shirts are made with Egyptian cottons.
What to look for in shirts that made of Egyptian cotton:
Fabric content - Make sure that the shirts that say they are Egyptian cotton, are made of 100% cotton, not a cotton blend.
Thread count - The higher thread count means that the fibers of cotton are woven closer together which reflects in fabrics being both softer and more durable.
Can Egyptian cotton be made elsewhere?
The Egyptian cotton fiber comes only from Egypt. The cotton fabrics can be woven somewhere else using Egyptian cotton fibers. Over the years there were attempts of growing and making Egyptian cotton in other countries. There is an American version of Egyptian cotton known as Pima cotton which the Pima Indian Reservation in Arizona began to grow it in the early 1900's to meet an increasing demand for long staple cotton.

Info sources: Wikipedia, Essortment, Bigpictureagriculture

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