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Sea Island Cotton v. Egyptian Cotton

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Kuro, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Kuro

    Kuro Senior member

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    Would anyone explain what are the differences and benefits of one over the other (for shirt)? M. Colban is coming to BG next month and I'm thinking of an order. Thanks.
     
  2. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    Others with far more knowledge of shirtings will chime in with details, but just to tide you over until then:

    Sea Island is a trademarked cotton of supposedly very high and consistent quality. This has not always been the case, but it supposedly is now. I don't have any, so I can't comment on it myself. Egyptian, on the other hand, is just the country of origin. Some of it is great, some is not. I don't believe there is a variety called "Egyptian."
     
  3. breakfasteatre

    breakfasteatre Senior member

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    I was reading a little about this online and i dont even think "egyptian" refers to the origin being egypt. I think it refers to a type of cotton which is grown in many places, including the united states.
     
  4. Opermann

    Opermann Senior member

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    Sea island cotton is harvested from the sea, while Egyptian cotton is made in Egypt. Duh [​IMG] Seriously I thought it was just a difference in thread counts.
     
  5. speedster.8

    speedster.8 Senior member

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    afaik .. Sea island is exclusively produced in small quanteties on the west indies (Barbados) it is the longest fiber around 52mm long. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Island_Cotton Egyptian is just a slightly longer breed than average, 3-4cm vs 2-2,5 for reg. Apparently there are variations on egyptian ... there is a "200 A2" that is spun from Giza45 (as in Giza Egypt) and is priced as SeaIsland ... Se http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton And we all know the longer the fiber the smother & softer it will be, be it cotton or cashmere [​IMG] For the sake of argument I have included a link to a reference to Mercerized http://fiberarts.org/design/articles/mercerized.html I have some cotton knit in Mercerized, witch I enjoy. But have yet to se it beeing used in shirts/shirtings. Speed
     
  6. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    I have some Sea Island sweaters but no shirts. I'm sure they're very nice.
     
  7. Wicky

    Wicky Senior member

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    I have one Kiton Sea Island coton shirt and several Finamore Sea Islands. The Sea Island coton is much lighter and more pleasant to wear then any other coton shirts I have (including Egyptian coton). Its a comfort thing. As to durabiity I have not noticed any significant difference yet.
     
  8. rando

    rando Senior member

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    I just purchased a white sea island cotton shirt from jantzen and it seems this shirt is nearly see thru compared to my other shirts. Is this just the nature of sea island cotton?
     
  9. speedster.8

    speedster.8 Senior member

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    I just purchased a white sea island cotton shirt from jantzen and it seems this shirt is nearly see thru compared to my other shirts. Is this just the nature of sea island cotton?
    NOPE That is determined by weave, not by cotton type ... a Zephyr weave might give you a light and airy fabric. What you describe might be Jantzens way of saving?
     
  10. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Sea Island cotton is a pretty amorphous term. Many shirtmakers sell a Sea Island quality which is a shirt with a high yarn number. There is a Sea Island brand of cotton made from cotton grown in the West Indies. I am fairly certain that good quality cotton from other sources -- including Egypt -- can equal or surpass it.

    I own plenty of John Smedley sea island cotton sweaters and pull overs. Some are fantastic, others are awful. I've had some shirts in SIQ (sea island quality); one shirt that may be real sea island but even the shirtmaker shrugged as to whether it really was.
     
  11. rando

    rando Senior member

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  12. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    Sea Island cotton is a pretty amorphous term. Many shirtmakers sell a Sea Island quality which is a shirt with a high yarn number. There is a Sea Island brand of cotton made from cotton grown in the West Indies. I am fairly certain that good quality cotton from other sources -- including Egypt -- can equal or surpass it.

    I own plenty of John Smedley sea island cotton sweaters and pull overs. Some are fantastic, others are awful. I've had some shirts in SIQ (sea island quality); one shirt that may be real sea island but even the shirtmaker shrugged as to whether it really was.


    This is an important distinction: "Sea Island Quality" is just a generalization for what a mill/factory establishes as their top quality cotton. On the other hand, "Sea Island Cotton" is the trademarked stuff.
     
  13. FidelCashflow

    FidelCashflow Senior member

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    Lots of non-sea island cotton is labelled "sea island" or "sea island quality" as a marketing ploy. I have a sea island shirt, it's nice but it wrinkles like hell, so I don't bother with sea island anything anymore.

    Egyptian comes in many varieties from junk to fantastic. I have a pair of Baldessarini pants that are promimently labelled "Egyptian Cotton" on the inside. The fabric has an incredible lustre, and softness like sea island, but is not as wrinkly as sea island.

    That said, its pretty damn hard to make a decision based on buzzwords that people are throwing around. See and feel the fabrics, then decide.
     
  14. Sam Hober

    Sam Hober Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    True Sea Island cotton may no longer exist. http://supimacotton.blogspot.com/200...hy-it-was.html With that said extra long staple (ELS) cotton is grown in more than one region. The best Egyptian Ginza type cotton is not available in large amounts and is much more expensive than standard Egyptian Ginza cotton.
     
  15. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    True Sea Island cotton may no longer exist.

    http://supimacotton.blogspot.com/200...hy-it-was.html


    With that said extra long staple (ELS) cotton is grown in more than one region.

    The best Egyptian Ginza type cotton is not available in large amounts and is much more expensive than standard Egyptian Ginza cotton.


    Surely you mean Giza rather than Nantucket Red?
     
  16. Kuro

    Kuro Senior member

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    That said, its pretty damn hard to make a decision based on buzzwords that people are throwing around. See and feel the fabrics, then decide.


    Since there doesn't seem to be a consensus I think this is probably the best approach. Thanks all!
     
  17. binge

    binge Senior member

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    Lots of non-sea island cotton is labelled "sea island" or "sea island quality" as a marketing ploy.

    ...

    That said, its pretty damn hard to make a decision based on buzzwords that people are throwing around. See and feel the fabrics, then decide.


    +1

    That's pretty much the response I got from my tailor when I was flipping through his shirting books. He had some lovely 2x2 160 cottons and when I asked about "Sea Island", he smiled a bit and said that the term was so over-used, abused and slapped on any extra-fine cotton that he doesn't even bother with the label any more and just recommends going by the look and feel of the fabric.
     
  18. ArthurKlass

    ArthurKlass New Member

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    "Sea Island Cotton" - is cotton that is harvested on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, U.S., and when properly woven and finished could feel as smooth and luxurious as silk. It is the longest cotton fibre, and although it feels very delicate it is extremely durable - resulting in clothing that could last a generation or more.

    Egyptian cotton is cotton that is grown in Egypt, and if woven and finished in Switzerland could result in a fine product - but will never feel as silky as Sea-Island cotton.
     
  19. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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    You are correct. After 3+ years of ignorance posted in this thread. Hasn't any one here heard of Wikipedia?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossypium_barbadense
     
  20. ARdrgz

    ARdrgz New Member

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    I know this is an old forum, but when I read some of the replies, I just had to jump in. I'm a historian from the town where Sea Island Cotton originated so I've done some extensive research on the stuff. Here's a rundown:

    True Sea Island Cotton no longer exists today. First introduced by William Elliot in the very late part of the 18th century, he brought seeds from Barbados and began planting the crop on the outer islands off the coast of South Carolina, not Georgia. By cross breeding to attain longer, softer fibers Sea Island Cotton was born. Its quality far exceeded today's Egyptian Cotton making it the finest cotton on Earth. Eventually as the crop grew in popularity, planters did later begin planting in along the outer islands of Georgia as well, but strictly to what's today considered the "lowcountry". The greatest concentration of Sea Island Cotton plantations were found in Beaufort, South Carolina making the plantation owners there by far the wealthiest in the region. Sea Island Cotton was praised for its light, silky texture was almost transparent in appearance and was primarily used for making men's shirts and ladie's nightgowns/undergarments. In 1917, the lowcountry was invaded by the boll weevil and is held responsible for driving the precious crop to extinction.


    If you were to come across a Sea Island Cotton product today, understand that the term "Sea Island" cannot be regulated! Barbados Cotton is its closest cousin and still is finer than Egyptian Cotton. For example, most Barbados cotton shirts retail around $230.00
     
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