Cotton vs Poly/Cotton
Whether it’s to purchase for personal use, promotional wear or staff uniforms, you want to know what the choices you have really mean about product quality and wearer comfort.
What Are the Choices?
A garment’s fabric can be a number of things, 100% cotton, 100% polyester or a mix of cotton and elastane, polyester and cotton, nylon and many more. It can be confusing to tell which is the best fabric for you. GSM (Grams per Square Metre) describes the weight of the fabric which range from lighter fabrics at around 145gsm to the heavier at upwards of 175gsm.
So, How Do You Choose?
There is nothing to suggest lightweights are good or heavyweights are bad or visa versa, however depending on what you want to do whilst wearing the garment there are definite pros and cons. For instance a t-shirt designed for sports such as AWDis Contrast Cool T-shirt is extrememly light at 140gsm which is great for this garment as it will keep you cool whilst exercising, and if it were heavyweight would be too hot for exercising in.
Is 100% Cotton Best?
A typical misconception is that 100% Cotton items give the best quality. It might be easier to choose garments if it were that simple, however there is a lot more to a garment than just the fabric, you must also take into account the way the fabric was spun, whether it has been dyed or not and if so what dying process was used. One of the easiest and most common ways to distinguish quality is usually price. Cotton is reliant on good crop yields so its price is generally always going to be high, whilst polyester is man made so is more readily available.
The two most common fabrics are Cotton and Poly/cotton a blend of cotton and polyester typically found in a 50/50 mix, but can vary at 65/35 too. Poly/cotton combines aspects of both polyester and cotton, so here is a run down of some of the pros and cons of poly/cotton vs that of cotton and polyester
- Unbreathable, can be uncomfortable in hot conditions
- More elasticated so is tare resistant
- Doesn’t shrink
- Wears easily
- Naturally occurring fabric
- Can be organic
- Softer feel
- Fully breathable fabric, great to keep you cool in the summer
- Higher the gsm the less breathable
- Can wear out easily, depending on the weave
- Holds it’s shape better
- Creases less easily, less ironing for you
- Long lasting, durable and more tear resistant
- Not as cheap but can be inexpensive compared to 100% cotton
With all this to take in how then do you choose which fabric is right for your t-shirt, polo-shirt or sweatshirt purchase? It largely depends on what the purpose of the garment will be. Two key examples would be
- For work uniforms in industries which will involve work around machinery the tear resistance of poly/cotton may be preferable.
- If they will be used in an active or hot environment a 100% cotton fabric with a lower gsm would be ideal for breathability.