Your Guide to Cotton, Comfort and Construction
They’re one of the first things we touch in the morning, and one of the last every night. Our bath towels make us feel warm, dry and cozy. Yet for all their use, when it’s time to buy a new towel collection, we rarely give the purchase much thought.
The way you experience a towel is shaped by a myriad of factors: the type of cotton, yarn structure, weaving technology and finishing processes. Understanding the language of premium cotton towel construction can help ensure you’ll get the look, feel and performance you’re seeking. From Aerocotton to zero-twist, here’s an easy primer to premium towel terminology.
Types of Cotton
Grown in the fertile Nile river valley, Egyptian cotton is the finest cotton fiber available, yielding extra-long fibrous threads with more moisture-absorbing loops per inch than others. That density means 100% Egyptian cotton towels boast ultimate absorbency, strength and durability. The length of the fibers also means Egyptian cotton is ideal for weaving processes that leave the fibers exposed, creating towels with unmatched softness.
Similar to Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton has extra-long fibers that deliver a luxuriously soft hand, ultimate durability and superior absorbency. Depending on the weaving process, Turkish cotton towels can even be thicker and fluffier than those made from Egyptian cotton fibers.
With a silky-soft touch and lightweight lustrous look, this towel is more absorbent than standard cotton. Modal is a semi-synthetic fiber that is extremely breathable and doesn’t trap odors. When blended with cotton it creates a towel experience that’s fast-drying and comfortable as can be, resistant to pilling and shrinking.
Grams per square meter (gsm) refers to the density of the fabric used to make a towel. Generally speaking, towels with lower gsm measurements are lighter and less dense, while a higher gsm indicates a thicker towel. While gsm is often used as a marker of a towel’s quality, it must be considered alongside factors such as the type of fiber, weave and finishing. A high-gsm towel made from inferior materials may not deliver the softness or durability desired.
This technology uses a special spinning process that allows air to pass through the cotton fibers, creating extra-long yarns with an expansive surface area. What does this mean for you? Superior absorbency, quick-drying performance and a luxuriously soft hand.
A pre-weaving process that’s only possible when using the best grades of cotton, the process of “combing” cotton yarns removes the short fibers, leaving a long, smooth, continuous strand. The resulting high-quality yarn has excellent strength and softness, and reduced pilling.
Hydrocotton® towels are produced through an advanced weaving technique that creates low-twist loops. This translates into a surface that is significantly more absorbent, with superior softness that some say rivals Egyptian cotton. These quick-drying towels will gain a more luxurious hand over time.
With dense, double-loop construction, towels made with MicroCotton™ technology have a lush, suede-like texture and delivers twice the absorbency of standard towels, yet retains a light weight.
Only possible when using long, strong, premium cotton fibers, the zero-twist process reveals more of each cotton fiber – and its luxurious softness. Allowing the fiber to remain “open” greatly increases absorbency without bulk and allows air infiltration, so towels retain a drier feel after use and dry quickly.
Woven with high- and low-pile loops, sculpted towels often have all-over designs that add visual interest and texture.
Embroidery options allow you to put your own brand of classic style on a set of towels, whether it’s “His” and “Hers” for the master bath or a traditional monogrammed towel for the powder room.
For a decorative element, many premium cotton towels feature a border with Lurex, a reflective yarn that adds unexpected, subtle shimmer.
These decorative woven borders are like a finishing touch for a towel, adding a detailed pattern and texture that helps define its style.
Once you’ve found just the right towel, be sure to follow the specific care instructions to retain those premium qualities. The use of fabric softener, for example, can load down the softness of some cottons.