Wool Vs. Cotton

Natural fibers are used exclusively by many fashion designers.

Natural fibers are a fashion must.Trends show both wool and cotton still holding high court in the natural fibers arena.


The wool that many of us associate with clothing is not the wool of today.The scratchy and heavy fabric of early twentieth century clothing manufacturers has given way to the mix of wool blends that are now popular.The agony of dealing with itchy, scratchy wool has been replaced with lightweight and finely woven wools like the following:

­- Wool crepe

­- Wool jersey

­- Merino wool

­- Cashmere

­- Vicuna

Wool is not just made from sheep but also from camel hair, rabbits, goats, and llamas.The most well known of the softer, lightweight wools is cashmere, a specialty wool product which comes from Kasmir goat down.

Often thought of as a heavy or coarse fabric, wool is now lightweight and able to be worn in a variety of ways.Chunky wools still abound for lined jackets, scarves and coats and are used in a variety of textures from tweeds to coarse weaves.But more often than not the lightweight wool is showing up in both women's and men's suits, finely knitted sweaters, beautifully tailored trousers, and accessories.The more thread count the softer the wool is and the trend is sweeping men's and women's fashion.

The advantages of wool are many.Wool has great memory and will return to its original shape when it has been folded or stretched.Worsted wools, on the other hand, are processed so that they hold a crease well.Wool also has the ability to absorb 30% of its weight when it is wet and it does so without feeling damp to the touch or against the skin.Both these properties make wool the fabric of choice when tailoring and shaping a garment.A good, tight weave of wool wears very well, resisting many tearing and wearing that other fabrics fall prey to.


Cotton is probably the most sought after fabric by the educated consumer.This is, in fact, partly due to the cotton industry and their campaign to put cotton at the forefront of consumer thought.The industry has been so successful in their campaign that cotton is now being used in the traditionally wool dominated formalwear and classic wear fashion arenas.

Tuxedos, dress suits, and business attire in general have traditionally been constructed of wool fabrics.Suit weight cotton is now used for suits, jackets, and trousers as much as wool is.In the U.S., cotton is the most sought after fabric.

Cotton has been a part of fashion for so long that its birth date is not really known.South American natives used cotton, the Egyptians used cotton and eventually cotton was used worldwide and recognized as the fabric of choice for many countries.It has even replaced wool as the fabric of choice in many countries that traditionally chose wool.

Cotton has its disadvantages.It typically has no memory meaning that it does not hold its shape well.Cotton fabrics fade quickly which means they are not colorfast and they show their wear sooner than a wool garment would.Cotton wrinkles easily and often needs special care after it is washed.Ironing, pressing and steaming is usually needed after pulling a cotton garment from the dryer.This is why you see cotton blends.Cotton blends will hold their value and shape much longer.

Cotton has advantages as well and they far outweigh the disadvantages.This is evident by its popularity and use.Cotton is soft and comfortable against the skin.Its ability to absorb makes it ideal for many uses.It can be created in a wide variety of weights and textures.

Its advantages are dependent on the many types of processes available to alter its properties.It can be processed to be wrinkle resistant, hold color better or not to shrink.Look for cotton in fashion garments or the following manufacturing areas: bedding, upholstery, draperies, rugs, medical and surgical supplies, bookbinding, and accessories such as shoes and handbags.

Availability, pricing, and global economics all play a role in the use of wool and cotton.The fashion industry, is always open to new and trendy ideas, has taken wool under their wing and has rejoiced in its advantages by showcasing the ability of wool to adapt.On the other hand cotton still reigns supreme in fashion fabrics.The choice is yours to make when you are shopping for you or your family.Choose what works best for you.

© High Speed Ventures 2011