100s, 110s, 120s, 130s, 140s - What does it mean?

Poobah

New Member
I often see references to these designations for wool suit material and wonder what they mean. If appropriate, which is the superior fabric?
 

manton

Arbiter CBDum
The numbers denote the fineness or thinness of the individual fibers that were spun into the yarn which was woven into the cloth which was sewn into a suit. The higher the number, the thinner the fibers, hence the smoother and silker the cloth feels.

But know well that Super number (or "micronage", since fibers are properly graded by how many microns wide they are) is BUT ONE measure of quality, and not a very reliable one. Many well made Super 80s or 90s are far better than the 150s and higher that one sees in high-end RTW. The 150s will almost always cost more, because the raw wool required to make it costs more, and also because people will simply pay more for it. But that doesn't make it better, or even good, necessarily.
 

Mr. Knightly

Super Member
The silky hand of high number supers is not always what one may prefer. I, for one, really like the substantial feel of Super 70s and 80s. They're nicer in the winter too.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
 

Siggy

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I believe I read somewhere that anything over super 120 may not be the best choice fabric for a suit that will be worn often since the higher super number wool is not as durable thus will wear out faster. Any comments?
 

Syringemouth

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Super 180's seems to wrinkle easier but so what. I only wear my super 180's 1-2 times a month so I don't see how it is going to wear out so quickly. I prefer the feel of the higher end woolens, and I think that anything above a Super 200 is getting a little excesive. Just my .02 so do what you will. [8D] Super 150's is also a very nice fabric. Brioni seems to carry the best patterns in this wool.
 

LA_Guy

New Member
They are all integers divisable by 10.

Style Forum moderator slumming with the trads. And I wear hoodies. And jeans. And sneakers. Please don't shoot me with a Trad pistol.
 

Andy

Site Creator/ Administrator
Staff member
Poobah:

More than you wanted to know, excerpts from The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes, chapter on Fabrics:

WEIGHTS and MEASURES

Yarn Counts:

Staple yarns are bought and sold by the pound, not by length. Sizes (or numbers) are used to express a relation between the weight of the raw fiber of staple yarns and the yarn length. Hanks are standard skeins of yarn (comprised of strands), used to gauge fineness in the worsted or metric system. One hank measures 560 yards and the number of Hank’s in one-pound gauges relative fineness. For example: 40's quality yarn is actually 40 hanks which is 40 x 560 or 22,400 yards of yarn per pound--twice as "course" (less fine, smooth and dense) as 80's yarn which is 80 hanks or 80 x 560, equaling 44,800 yards of yarn per pound. The higher the hanks number, the finer the yarn.

Filament fibers weight is measured by a system called Denier. This measurement applies to all synthetic or manufactured fibers, and silk. This system works in reverse of the worsted or metric and the number increases with the coarseness of the yarns, so the lower the number, the finer the fiber. Numerically, a denier is the equivalent to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of continuous filament fiber.

Making the right grade. Yarn counts and wool grades are easily confused with each other! Yarn counts will often include talk of ply while wool grades will often mention “worstedâ€. Yarn counts rarely climb above 80s and anything higher than 90 is impossible to spin whereas wool grades start at 80’s and 90’s.

What does 2-ply 120 mean?

The numbers describing fabric refer to:

1. Yarn count - that's the ply part, such as “singlesâ€, “twists†and “plyâ€. A single is one fiber or thread. Two-ply is two fibers twisted together. Using two or more fibers make the thread or yard stronger and more durable.

High count: refers to fabric woven with a relatively high thread count, resulting in a dense, tight fabric. Thread count is the number of vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) threads in 1 square inch of fabric. But the numbers can be deceptive — many manufacturers use a form of "thread count inflation," counting each double-ply strand of a thread twice.

Ply yarns are two or more strands twisted together. Yarn is twisted to provide strength and smoothness. Most yarns used in clothing are plied yarns. Twisting together yarns of different tensions or diameters make complex yarns such as boucle and ratine.

Twist is a term that applies to the number of turns and the direction that two yarns are turned during the manufacturing process. The yarn twist brings the fibers close together and makes them compact. It helps the fibers adhere to one another, increasing yarn strength.

The direction and amount of yarn twist helps determine appearance, performance, and durability of both yarns and the subsequent fabric or textile product. Single yarns may be twisted to the right (S twist) or to the left (Z twist). Generally, woolen and worsted yarns are S-twist, while cotton and flax yarns are typically Z-twist. Twist is generally expressed as turns per inch (tpi), turns per meter (tpm), or turns per centimeter (tpc).

High twist: refers to yarn that are manufactured with a relatively high number of turns per inch. This may be done to increase the yarn strength or to give the fabric a crepe texture or hand.

2. The other number gives you the fabric grade. Super 100’s, 120’s, etc refer to the length in centimeters one woolen yarn can be stretched. It’s a measurement of fineness. Also measured in microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or one micrometer, which is approximately 1/25,000 of an inch.

Longer yarn results in a more luxurious, finer hand and a lighter weight.

Super

Modern high-tech machines spin wool finer than it’s ever been spun before! The super number or S number was set up as shorthand for describing the fineness of wool fibers not a quality ranking. The S-system (aka Worsted Count System) began in the 18th century. Finished yarn was coiled in 560-yard long loops called hanks. The S number indicated how many hanks could be made from a pound of wool.

Now the S- number refers to the fineness of the wool as measured in microns or one-millionth of a meter.

For example:

SUPER NUMBER MICRONS
100 -- 18.5
110 -- 18.0
130 -- 17.5
160 -- 15.5

But very high S-system number (Super 150, Super 200) wools don’t guarantee the best garments. The high S fabrics are more difficult to tailor. Italian Tailors say the wool is “nervousâ€. Since the material shifts so easily when it is sewn. Such wools wrinkle almost as much as linen. They are delicate and not as durable as less-fine wool. You can have good 15-micron wool or bad 15-micron wool. Ultimately it is the look and tailoring of the fabric that matter most, everything else is just a number.

Fineness is only one measure of quality. Length, and strength are also important. Length is vital since the longer the fiber the stronger the yarn that can be spun from it. Strength is critical because the yarn must be twisted very tightly to achieve a fine weave.

Weight:

Fabric weight for suits is measured in ounces per linear yard (36†x 60â€) of fabric. Tropical weights (6.5 to 8.5 oz.) are comfortable for summer wear. Mid-weight suits (9 to 10 oz.) are designated “year round†or favored for 10-month wear. Regular weight (11 to 13 oz.) is appropriate for fall and winter. Heavy weight (14 to 16 ounce) provides extra warmth but is most appropriate for winter in Scotland.

Andy
 
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DavidRichards

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Yes, the higher the number the finer the yarn used to weave the cloth. However, a fine yarn does not guarantee dense, silky cloth nor does it guarantee a well made garment. It only guarantees a fine yarn - period.

David Richards
Baron's Wholesale Clothes
eSuit / eTuxedo / eCufflink / eBlazer
 

manton

Arbiter CBDum
quote:Originally posted by DavidRichards

Yes, the higher the number the finer the yarn used to weave the cloth.
Small correction: not yarn; fiber. Super number or micron or count (three different ways of saying the same thing) denotes only the fineness of the individual fibers of raw wool. It says nothing about the quality of the yarn. You could give 200s Escorial to lousy spinners and end up with lousy yarn. You can also give 120s to Lumb, and end up with Golden Bale.
 

tck13

New Member
Clarification?

The "s" at the end of the number (70s, 80s) means that the garment is (woven) made out of a single yarn.

It is not a garment with 2 ply yarns (or 2 yarns together to make a thread).

So, isn't it true that a garment with 2 ply yarns (80) is stronger and smoother than a garment woven with a single yarn? (80s)

(Let's say we're talking about a wool pair of pants)

Edit: Oops, I think the highest grade of wool (not super) is 80.
 

manton

Arbiter CBDum
I don't believe that is what the "s" means. The "s" is used in denoting the count of the raw wool, i.e., before it is spun into yarn and has a chance to be woven into cloth.
 

manton

Arbiter CBDum
No, the highest grade of wool is not 80s. Right now, they are growing 250s. Whether you put the word "Super" in front of the number or not, count is count is count. It denotes exactly the same thing. "Super" is a silly marketing term. It is most often not used to denoted wool lower than 100s count, but there is nothing carved in stone about that.
 

Joe Frances

Super Member
I have the impression that tailors prefer to work with the Super 80s to the 120s the most for drape and shape. Any tailors present willing to comment on this? As I say it's an impression, but a conviction.

Joe
 

tck13

New Member
quote:Originally posted by manton

No, the highest grade of wool is not 80s. Right now, they are growing 250s. Whether you put the word "Super" in front of the number or not, count is count is count. It denotes exactly the same thing. "Super" is a silly marketing term. It is most often not used to denoted wool lower than 100s count, but there is nothing carved in stone about that.

I'll have you know that (since I got my degree) my education level can be currenty classified as "very dangerous"! :D

(In other words, I am still trying to figure all this stuff out)

I was going through a book from school about wool and trying to follow along with this thread. (Most of the info I have says the same thing as andy's post)

The standards I came up with for wool came from the "ASTM" and were talking about "grades" of wool (which are, apparently, slightly different depending on which country the wool came from). I was not aware that the standards have gone up that much.

I understand that "super" is just a marketing term and means nothing.

BUT: To take the original posters question further, since there are so many different names for wool out there, what do I need to look for when I go to a store to buy wool pants or sweaters or suiting. Any simple suggestions or obvious things to look for?

Hand is always important, virgin wool is always better? the higher the number is (usually) a better choice?

How can I read a tag and distinguish better from worse when I go to a store?
 

manton

Arbiter CBDum
This is sort of complicated and there are no easy answers. Much of what I know relates to brands that are only sold through swatch books, so I don't know how helpful I can be in explaining how to judge fabric. Scratch that, I am pretty sure that I can't be that helpful.

First, think of it this way: there is raw wool, there is yarn, and there is cloth. Raw wool is the stuff classified by number. 80s, 100s, 250s, whatever -- those number all refer to the fineness of individual fibers of raw wool. Astute and ingenious breeding of sheep has yielded animals with very fine undercoats. But even that is not enough to get the stratospheric Supers we see today. You also need looms that can weave it without breaking it. High tech looms can do that now, whereas not so long ago, breeders could raise sheep with very fine coats that no loom could successfully weave.

Raw wool is spun into yarn. This can be done well or badly. Also, it's an economic decision whether the spinner (or whoever hires him) wants to get the most out of that raw wool. What I mean is, if you take a pound of 100s yarn and spin out to its limit, you can get 100 hanks of yarn. But they will be feeble, delicate yarns. Or you can spin it into fewer hanks of much stronger, more resilient yarn. Obviously, since they pay the same amount for that pound of raw wool either way, the more hanks they can get out of it, the better, from a purely economic perspecitive. Conversely, deliberately limiting the amount of yarn you spin makes for a better end product, but you have to sell it for a higher price, which limits your market.

All of this is to say that Super number does not denote better cloth. If anything, it denotes inferior cloth, because the vast majority of spinners and weavers tend to run the stuff out to the max. Very few make great yarn with it. I know of only one 150s book that is any good. There are a handful of 120s.
 

Film_Noir_Buff

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by rws

quote:Originally posted by manton
. . . . I know of only one 150s book that is any good. There are a handful of 120s.
And they are?

I know of several 150s books that make up nicely, especially some 150s gabardines that are smashing and put the fun back into a tan gab suit which probably shouldn't be worn more than a few times a year anyway. It is true 150s doesn't wear like iron so its not for the wardrobe builder, it is more of an advanced addition for someone who knows it wont take a lot of wear and can afford to rotate it in long intervals. Lesser's 150s do have more body than most merchants, I have yet to have a suit made up in it but it is on the agenda. They have an 8 oz and an 11 oz and they seem solid if a bit less modern.

For 120s, most of the better merchants carry excellent quality 120s (many of them supplied by the same few mills left in England) Dormeuil, Scabal, Holland and Sherry (modern but very city of London), Smith (bit more of a throwback, think of H. Lesser's less dry cousin), Harrisons of Edinburgh (Great colors, theyve always been king of the colors), Minnis (They claim to have invented 120s).

Zegna 120s are usually very nice as well, though I consider Zegna to be the Italian H. Lesser and it seems all their wools make up beautifully.
 

hbb1283

New Member
quote:Originally posted by manton

This is sort of complicated and there are no easy answers. Much of what I know relates to brands that are only sold through swatch books, so I don't know how helpful I can be in explaining how to judge fabric. Scratch that, I am pretty sure that I can't be that helpful....

All of this is to say that Super number does not denote better cloth. If anything, it denotes inferior cloth, because the vast majority of spinners and weavers tend to run the stuff out to the max. Very few make great yarn with it. I know of only one 150s book that is any good. There are a handful of 120s.

When you (Manton, FNB) open up a swatch book, how do you (Manton, FNB) know if the fabric is good quality or not? Look? Feel? Reputation of the mill? Heresay? Prior experience with fabric?
 
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