Egyptian Cotton Shirts! Cotton? Mostly Yes. From Egypt? Mostly not!
Friends and salesmen are telling everyone that Egyptian Cotton is the best cotton in the world. The ultimate shirting material you need to purchase. Indeed, they have a point. But why is that and why is everyone talking about Egyptian cotton as compared to cotton from the USA or China ? How can one tell the genuine from the fake? Does a label truly indicate the actual material?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Egyptian Cotton as follows: “a fine long-staple often somewhat brownish cotton grown chiefly in Egypt” and that it was first discovered in 1877. So, what is it all about?
As the name suggests, Egyptian Cotton originates from Egypt and is grown mainly around the River Nile Valley where the special micro climate with the local soil allows cotton to grow longer fibres (staples) than other cotton plants in other parts of the world. The plant itself from which the cotton originates is known by its Latin name Gossypium barbadense (Egyptian Giza).
Typically the staples of Egyptian cotton are between 1 3/8 inches and 2 ¼ inches which are about double the length then most of the competitors cotton staples in the world. This characteristic of Egyptian cotton makes it possible to spin extra fine yarn which is very durable and absorbent at the same time. However, this plant does not only grow in Egypt and it is also native to tropical South America.
As the name “Egyptian Cotton” was not protected and was used all over the world (even for cotton which was not even close to Egypt), the Egyptian Government trade marked the Egyptian Cotton with a logo on 2001. The logo consists of a white cotton plant inside a dark triangle which resembles the pyramids. The irony is, anyone could still use the term “Egyptian Cotton” as long as they did not use the respective logo
Having all this in mind and knowing that this specific cotton plant is only producing about 8% of the world production (this includes American Pima, Indian Suvin, Chinese Xinjiang, Sudanese Barakat, and Russian Tonkovoloknistyi) it is very obvious that there are probably more fake Egyptian Cotton out than genuine Egyptian Cotton.
So, what do you do as a consumer? The first thing to look out for would of course be the Egyptian Cotton logo. Choose to buy trusted brands which you trust and believe uses real Egyptian Cotton or you could just accept the label with a pinch of salt. Also bear in mind that different countries have different regulations on how “honestly” importers have to layout the contents of the product. A rule of thumb here is that the more developed a country is the higher the chances are that you get what is promised. Most importantly it would be wise not to believe everything you read.
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