Pima cotton vs Egyptian cotton: what’s the difference?

What is Pima and Egyptian cotton?

Cotton actually comes from two different species of plants. The most common type is Upland cotton, which makes up nearly 90% of all cotton produced around the world. The remaining 10% is made up of two higher-quality cottons — Pima and Egyptian cotton, which are both “extra-long staple” cotton. These longer, silkier individual cotton fibers create a premium fabric that is both luxuriously soft and incredibly strong. It’s resistant to fraying, tearing, pilling, wrinkling, and fading.

Egyptian cotton, when it’s authentic, is a fabric from the Nile River Valley. The worst thing about Egyptian cotton is there’s no way to verify if it’s the real thing. 90% of Egyptian Cotton is fake and you’ll be paying expensive cotton of questionable origin.

Pima cotton has a decidedly American story. For those who like numbers, Pima cotton fibers measure between 1.4 to 2 inches in length, while conventional cotton fibers measure up to 1.1 inches long. Pima cotton fabric comes out softer and more durable than if it were made from a shorter staple cotton. Manufacturers say that Pima cotton has a 50% longer life expectancy than other cotton products ensuring a more sustainable wardrobe. It’s also great for people who have sensitive skin.

Pima and Egyptian cotton take only 10% of the entire production quota worldwide.

You'll know the difference when you wear a Pima cotton garment.

Think of regular cotton but with better fibers. The reason Pima is more sought after than standard material is because it lasts longer and is softer to the touch. In fact, the fibers in Pima is 50 percent longer than regular materials, making this type extra soft since it’s made up of the fluffiest part of the bulb.

When you think of what you love about your favorite piece of clothing, comfort, style, and durability likely come to mind. For the perfect summer shirt, one fabric is the clear winner – cotton. Cotton is breathable, absorbent, and versatile, making it the original, all-natural performance material and helping you stay cool when temperatures rise. Pima cotton is the highest quality cotton available, thanks to those long, silky fibers. This means that Pima cotton t-shirts, dress shirts, or trousers will not only be some of the most comfortable items in your closet, they’ll be softer, stronger, and more colourfast too. Pima cotton resists fading and pilling and is easy to maintain.

How to spot real Pima cotton

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Pima cotton isn’t its quality, it’s that the market has been saturated with a lot of fakes. There are many instances in which manufacturers or brands are saying something is Pima cotton, when in reality it’s maybe a 20% Pima cotton blend.

So, how to spot when something is, in fact, Pima cotton and not some knock off?
Easy: A-line uses Supima® Cotton, which is as good as Pima cotton and is certified. These issues with quality control in Pima cotton are exactly why we love Supima® cotton. Supima® has a similar quality to Pima cotton, if not better, but it actually gets verified by a third party. Also, it’s more expensive than Egyptian cotton, with it’s consistent quality and it’s the softest and most durable cotton available.

Check out our SS20 collection for all Supima® Cotton pieces. All of these garments are marked with an text tag on each product page.

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