Seven Facts About Sea Island Cotton
There are plenty of premium shirting fabrics out there. We are lucky enough to work with beautifully Egyptian cottons, milled in Italy on a daily basis. We defer to Soyella and Surpaluxe on a daily basis, however, none is as luxurious or brings as much satisfaction as the glide of sheers through a shirt length of West Indian Sea Island Cotton. If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, here are just a few facts that sum up perfectly just why it is so special:
- Sea Island Cotton is the rarest and most precious cotton available. Every year about 110 million bales are cultivated globally, of which 2 million have an extra-long staple. Whilst this in itself is prized, it remains entirely uncomparable to the mere 150 bales of Sea Island cotton that are produced each year. It accounts for just 0.0004% of the world’s cotton production.
- West Indian Sea Island Cotton’s scientific name is “gossypium barbadense”. This translates as “Black Seed.”
- There are many imposters to the Sea Island crown, but genuine Sea Island Cotton is grown in the Caribbean, primarily in Jamaica and Barbados. The warm climate and perfect balance of sunshine, wind and rain provide perfect growing conditions. We often use the term WISICA when referring to our Sea Island Cotton in recognition of the West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association. This is the governing body that inspects every ounce of cotton grown in the area, issuing a Certificate of Authentication to guarantee the purity and quality of the cotton.
- Sea Island Cotton has a luxurious, silk handle and wonderful smoothness. This is thanks to its significantly long staple and uniformity.It is picked by hand in order to preserve its condition. With these factors in mind, it is little surprise that it is the most expensive of all the cottons.
- As with all things Caribbean, the cotton also has a natural luminosity to it, lending for a vibrancy of colour and wonderful sheen.
- Our Sea Island cotton is woven to a reassuring two fold 120 quality. Whilst it isn’t at the top of the tree in the superfine stakes, its long staple and strength of fibre provides optimum handle and just the right weight thickness to avoid any transparency. This is a cloth that softens even more beautifully every time it is washed.
- WISICA Sea Island cotton commands the highest price of all cotton. This is thanks to its rarity, hand picking and long staple.
Shop our Sea Island Cotton collection
Sea Island Quality
From time to time, you will come across the term Sea Island Quality when looking at shirts and shirting. Note that this is not an imposter to the Sea Island crown, but a contender when it comes to selecting an alternative, luxury shirting with the feel good factor.
Sea Island Quality cotton is made from the highest grade Egyptian cotton. It has a slightly shorter staple than WISICA but enjoys a similar silky handle, thanks to its increased thread count. Where our Sea Island shirts are woven to a 2 fold 120 quality, Sea Island Quality shirts tend to start at 2 fold 140s. They gain their name from the prestige of their cotton and their similar handle. An honourable and prestigious shirting, it also benefits from a lower price point when compared to WISICA, a result of the greater quantities produced and its mechanical as opposed to hand harvesting. We offer Sea Island Quality in our Made to Measure and Bespoke services