Q: How does the wool grading system work and what is the difference between Super 100’s, Super 120’s, Super 150’s, etc.?
A: This is one of the most frequently used and misunderstood measures of fabric quality that we know of.
Simply stated, the “Super” number indicates the average diameter of the individual wool fibers in a given fabric as measured in microns (one micron is a millionth of a meter). It has nothing to do with the fineness of the yarn (yarn count), the weight or finish or performance of the fabric, or various other characteristics normally attributed to it. There is an industry standard or table that specifies the “Super” number that can be applied to each specific wool fiber diameter. Fibers averaging 18.5 microns in diameter are Super 100’s, 17.5 microns are Super 120’s, 16 microns are Super 150’s, 13.5 microns are Super 200’s. It’s as simple as that.
So how important is the “Super” number in evaluating the actual quality and the intrinsic value of a fabric? This gets tricky. Since there are so many other factors besides the thickness of the individual fibers that influence quality, such as the length, strength and elasticity of the fibers, the yarn “count” (fineness of the spun yarn), the construction and finishing of the fabric, that it is risky to put too much emphasis solely on the “Super” number on the label. I would strongly recommend that you give equal weight to the “handle” of the fabric as relates to its finish, luxuriousness and “drape”, the reliability of the mill that produced it and your own previous experience with that fabric as relates to tailorability and performance.
If this explanation has not confused you sufficiently you can contact me at email@example.com and I will try to answer any further questions you may have on the subject.
Date answered: 03/09/2007
Question raised by: Micron Man