Why is Sea Island Cotton So Special?

Sea Island cotton is renowned for its exceptional softness and it produces some of the finest cotton fabrics in the world. They’re unrivalled for comfort and durability, with an effortlessly smooth feel on the skin. In fact, Sea Island cotton is so smooth, Queen Victoria once mistook it for silk. We’ve explained the reasons why.

Extra- Long Staple Cotton

Sea Island cotton’s staple length is the main reason for its exceptional properties and it’s what’s called an ‘extra-long staple cotton’. Put simply, the longer the staple, the higher the quality. Fewer fibre ends are exposed to the skin resulting in smoother and more durable fabrics. To classify as such, a cotton must have a staple length of over 34mm. Sea Island cotton meanwhile has a staple that can reach a staggering 50mm. Consequently, the fabrics it produces are the softest and most luxurious in the world.

It is also the world’s rarest cotton. Every year roughly 100 million bales of cotton are produced worldwide. 2 million of those are extra-long staple; just 150 of them are Sea Island cotton.

Farming Techniques

One of the other reasons Sea Island cotton is so luxurious is because of the way it’s farmed. Today, it comes from the Caribbean where the weather conditions are perfect for its production. The farmers are experts at cultivating it and understand how delicate a crop it is. They use very few chemicals in the process which not only protects the environment but also ensures the cotton is not damaged. Likewise, it is picked by hand and all ginning is performed on traditional machines guaranteeing its unique softness is perfectly preserved.

Spinning and Weaving

Our Sea Island cotton is spun by a Swiss company called Spoerry. Because the fibre is so fine, it requires a great deal of expertise to spin and weave it well. Fortunately, Spoerry have been working with it since 1866 so they know what they’re doing. Using a wealth of experience and skill, they ensure every yarn is perfect.

Sunspel has been working with Sea Island cotton for just as long. Our history is closely interwoven with it, and it was the cotton we used when we made the world’s first luxury T-shirt in 1908. Over the decades, we’ve developed fabrics that bring out the very best in it. For example, our Q100 fabric - used for our Sea Island cotton polo shirts, T-shirts, and underwear - is knitted as an interlock for exceptional softness on both sides. All our Sea Island cotton collection, from our sweatshirts and sweatpants to our shirts, is designed to be unrivalled for comfort and durability.

Today we offer a wide range of Sea Island cotton garments. All of them define craftsmanship. Every step of the way, decades of expertise inform every detail, from the farming right through to the manufacturing of the final garments. When it comes to luxury cotton, you can’t beat Sea Island cotton.