Thread Count — Marketing Gimmick or Hoax?
Conventional wisdom dictates that when shopping for Bedding, the higher the thread count, the nicer the Sheet. We’ve been trained to equate large numbers with luxury and have mostly accepted this as fact — after all, we need some way to measure quality. But float this logic by any textile expert, and you’re bound to get a skeptically raised eyebrow because this assumption is wrong.
Yep. You’ve been buying your sheets wrong and we are here to help. As linen expert Julian Tomchin told The New York Times, “once you get beyond 400 threads per square inch, be suspicious.”
WHAT IS THREAD COUNT, REALLY?
By definition, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally (“weft”) and vertically (“warp”). But in reality, it’s not nearly that straightforward. Think about it: Only so many pieces of thread can fit into a specific space. With Bedding, that number maxes out around 400. That means manufacturers have to employ some creative counting to land those 1,000-plus numbers.
One of the most common ways to do this is to factor in a fabric’s ply. (A note about fabric construction: Each thread in a piece of fabric is made up of single strands twisted together. This is called ply. When two strands are twisted together, it’s two-ply fabric; with three strands, it’s three-ply; etc.). Some manufacturers might decide to count each of the strands individually, making it easy to double or triple the thread count — and therefore, the price. But this has little effect on the actual quality of the linens.
Another method most manufacturers use is to weave Extra threads into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called “picks” and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the 1,000s. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn’t really accurate.
How did the misconception come about?
The very idea of TC started as a pretty genius marketing idea. According to Nancy Koltes, a renowned Linen expert, thread count isn’t so much a “lie” as it is a falsified way to determine the quality of sheets, especially when it’s used as the only way to determine quality. Just as we attach labels like “low-fat” and “organic” to food, linen retailers extended this to luxury linens in the mid-1990s, Koltes explains.
But besides being deceptive, inflating thread count is just silly. All leading authorities have determined that thread count alone is not an indicator of quality. As Consumer Reports states, “Our latest tests again confirmed that higher thread count doesn’t guarantee better sheets.”
The reality is that it’s not about the thread count, but it’s the quality and type of material that matter. That’s why Natu & Co. offers only the best caliber fabrics to give you a first-class sleep experience.