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What does Super 100s cotton mean?

We often get asked the question, “What do these Super numbers actually mean?” when customers are looking through the cottons. The numbers themselves are called Ne numbers and there are two reasons why they can be confusing. First, there seems to be several competing explanations, and, secondly, the real definition is rather archaic!

Essentially, Ne numbers give the amount of cotton yarn that can be spun from the same weight of cotton. It stands to reason that if more cotton can be spun from the same weight, then it must be a finer cotton yarn that results, therefore the higher the Ne number the finer the cotton. This doesn’t sound that complicated, but add in the actual weights and measures and it begins to get baffling: the Ne number denotes the number of hanks that can be spun from an imperial pound. I know it is on the tip of your tongue, but a hank is 840 yards, which makes 768 metres, and a pound is 0.45kg.

Alumo Super 200s, Super 160s (Green), and Super 100s with Porto Fino cuff.

An Alumo Super 200s, Super 160s (Green), and Super 100s with a Portofino or cocktail cuff.

Most high quality cotton mills use this English definition of Ne numbers, but some can use the Metric or the French system. These systems use exactly the same description (e.g. Super 200s) but the cotton is less fine under these measures than the English measure.

One final thing worth noting is that the Ne number does not correlate to the thread count per square inch. This is a very common misconception because this measure is used for other cottons, like bed sheets for example, but it does not apply to cotton shirtings.


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