The cloth is “pure wool”, but it’s shit… how?

There is no correlation between a fabric’s super number and its level of quality.

It’s a common misconception among customers of the tailored clothing industry, and one that has created some distortion in the minds of many.

Salespeople (and consumers) have spun many a yarn about the relation of a super number to the fabric quality.
Some say the higher the number, the finer the cloth, therefore the more fragile.
Some say the higher the number, the finer the cloth, therefore the more durable.
Some say the higher the number, the finer the cloth, and leave it at that.

The latter are the correct people, because while a super number does categorise the fineness of the threads within any given cloth, that’s the only purpose it serves when it comes to classification.


The fineness doesn’t correlate to quality in any sense.
A practical example to help found an understanding of this can be seen within sweaters, and how some are itchy while others are not.
Both can be made of the same superfine merino yarns.
One is itchier than the other.
The itchier one is also likely to be a ragged, pilled mess within one or two seasons.

What denotes the quality and comfort there is not the fineness of the yarn, but the length of the thread.
A longer yarn has a higher tensile strength (thus the individual threads are more durable), can be woven more densely (thus the fabric woven from the threads is more durable) and is exponentially less likely to exhibit signs of degradation like pilling and loss of shape.
The longer threads don’t pill because they are able to be woven between many more opposing threads than a shorter one, meaning the threads are kept in place much more tightly.

Hence you could have two worsted wool suits, both of super 150’s cloth, yet one might wear out within 1-3 years, while the other can last 10+.

The former will have been from a budget mill, and the latter will have been from a high end miller and/or purveyor like Dormeuil.

This likely forms a question in your mind.
How can two mills make a super 150’s cloth, a number at or above which a cloth is always considered luxury, yet one can perish quickly while the other can easily last more than a century?


The answer lies within the supply chain.
Luxury market players like Dormeuil or Loro Piana have access to the best raw materials, usually owning their own farms and obtaining the best materials of the season’s harvest by means of vertical integration.

The Dormeuils of the world then proceed to spin the harvested yarn and utilise the best of it in crafting their own cloths.
However, the entire length of any one thread of yarn is seldom if ever utilised, as there will always be offcuts or B-grade fibres that are marked as seconds.

Once the best of the harvest is used, there is a sizeable commercial quantity of offcuts and rejected yarns left over, as the luxury mill will only use the best.
This makes the luxury mill’s cloth the best of breed, but also makes it more scarce in quantity.
Combine these factors and you see why you pay a premium.

Back to the rejected yarns, these aren’t burned or thrown away.
That would be a waste.
Instead, the commercial quantities of offcuts and rejects are offered for sale, and a downmarket mill will buy them to spin into budget cloth.
That mill will craft a cloth of the same fineness, but it will be composed of shorter threads.
Which, naturally, means they lack the tensile strength and durability that the luxury cloth is imbued with.


If you struggle to justify the added cost of using a higher priced cloth in place of a cheaper one, this formulates the core value proposition.
Not only are you going to get the higher level of comfort, but you actually get a much more structurally sound cloth.
Combine that with a quality method of construction, and you get a garment which sees ten times the amount of wear that one composed with cheaper fabric would provide.
If you’re already shelling out for quality construction, do your craftspeople a service by selecting high quality components.
Your wallet will thank you in the long run.

How to determine the best quality resilient fabric and cloth - Dormeuil Tonik Wool
Dormeuil Tonik – a travel cloth that will outlast some of its wearers.

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With content features ranging from occasional appearances on popular menswear hub social accounts (The Rake, Styleforum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is an enthusiast, designer and writer in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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