Q: Is the trend towards finer wool grades, finer yarns and lighter weight fabrics for men’s suits continuing, or is the market moving towards heavier fabrics to achieve better tailoring and performance characteristics?
A: The emergence of fine wool qualities like Super 120’s and Super 130’s at competitive prices, especially from Asia, has enabled the volume producers of men’s clothing to give the consumer a more luxurious feeling and finer looking product than ever before. This is especially true for clear finished fabrics (which represent most of the clothing sold in the U.S.) where the fineness of both the yarn and the construction is easy to see. Since these fabrics tailor and perform well, there is no reason to move away from them solely based on performance issues.
The luxury end of the clothing market, both ready-made and custom-made, is another story. As finer and finer wool grades like Super 150’s, Super 180’s, Super 200’s and higher have become available, the yarns spun from these fibers have also become finer (meaning thinner), resulting in fabrics that are lighter in weight (like 8 ounces per yard on a twill construction) and possibly more delicate than before. In some cases these fabrics can be more difficult to tailor and may not perform as well as a heavier cloth. The result is that an increasing number of buyers (and sellers) of luxury suits are willing to trade off the fineness of look and lightness of weight for the tailoring and performance that comes with a heavier fabric.
The good news is that luxury need not be sacrificed to achieve performance in these ultra-fine qualities. This can be accomplished by spinning these exceptional wools into thicker yarn counts, thereby adding weight and improving the tailorability and performance of the fabric. The only tradeoff is that the fabric will not look as fine as one using very thin yarns, but all the other desirable features remain, including the butter-soft hand that comes from using such good wool.
Date answered: 06/19/2007
Question raised by: Fiber Finder