We get a lot of questions about thread count, and for good reason - it's often touted that higher thread count = better product. Since we have been in the bedding business since 1990 we’d like to share what we’ve learned on the subject as well as our point of view.
what is thread count?
Thread count is a measure of how many threads are woven into one square inch of fabric. Most numbers over 400tc are a more recent development, usually achieved by multiplying the “ply” of a thread by the thread count. (PIy is the number of yarns twisted together to make a thread.)
There are few exceptions where the cost to weave a true high thread count fabric is reflected in the pricing. One of those few is Pratesi, a renowned Italian company that sells 1ply cotton sheets so exclusive there is no pricing on their website. Their highest published thread count is 380, but it’s rumored they have the ability to weave at 600tc. Their queen bedding can cost $250-$540 per sheet. Truly high thread count costs a fortune both to manufacture and purchase.
Our extra-fine cotton sateen sheeting, PERLA, has a thread count of 300.
"high" thread count
It was only in the early 2000s that the first 1000tc sheets came onto the market, and it was an effective marketing move. Even to this day, plenty of people believe that the higher the thread count, the higher the quality. High thread count quickly became synonymous with luxury. Part of that may be due to the fact the most companies making quality sheets didn’t have the practice of emphasizing thread count to their customers.
In recent years there have been several developments regarding thread count in the United States.
There was the 2005 decision by the FTC that ruled inflated thread count is false advertising, stating “...we believe consumers could be deceived or misled by the practice of stating an inflated thread count, achieved by multiplying the actual count by the number of plies within the yarn.”
In 2017, the US International Trade Commission put out a general exclusion order blocking importation of fabrics that failed to furnish proper certifications.
AREA's approach to thread count
While thread count is a consideration, even more important is the quality of the cotton, the hand or feel of the fabric, the nature of the finishing, and of course the design and value.
The quality of the cotton depends on the lengths of the individual fibers, or staples. The longer the staple, the better the cotton. Longer staples allow the cotton to be spun into a stronger, softer, more lustrous fabric, which is also less likely to pill. With finer yarns, more can be woven into each square inch.
The best quality cotton results in a stronger fabric with a soft hand, which is why a 200 thread count sheet can feel nicer than a 400 thread count sheet that uses an inferior grade of cotton. Good quality sheets start at 180 thread count, 200 and higher is considered premium.
ANTON is our washed, dyed organic cotton percale with a thread count of 200.
From our 30 year vantage point, and considering all of the recently formed bedding companies that have proliferated in recent years, we see there is a lot of information about thread count out there. Many companies still push the idea that anything less than 400tc is not going to have a good hand or be soft. Whether it’s to pass off lower quality as luxury, or just to ride the thread count wave, it’s clear that we’ll have to live with confusion around high thread count a little longer.
Here at AREA, quality and design have always been our main priorities. Our philosophy of “good design for everyday” means that we keep our approach simple. Trends like high thread count would only affect us if it meant significantly higher quality. Since it doesn’t, Anki will continue to focus on making original, quality bedding, and we will note the thread count for your information.
A note on linen:
Due to the nature of its threads, which are spun from airy, naturally irregular flax fibers, linen fabric doesn’t even have a thread count. Linen is categorized by weight.
Lightweight linen starts at 120 grams, such as what we use in our “shirt weight” SIMONE linen bedding. We use super heavyweight linen that weighs in at 400 grams for our new ELIAS blankets, throws and pillow covers. It’s the heaviest linen we've ever made.