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Cotton: Origin, characteristics, care and types

In workwear and pret à porter design, cotton is one of the more used textile fabrics.

It is one of the most versatile fibres and represents 70% of the fabrics corporate wear’s origin and characteristics. It is also a fabric suitable for all skin types because it is hypoallergenic and it doens't cause skin irritation. 

The cotton industry represents almost the half of the world's consumption of fabrics and textile fibres.

Cotton clothes characteristics

If there is one thing that makes cotton fabrics stand out, it is the softness and pleasant touch that this fabric awakens in the person who wears it. This is due to the fact that the origin of cotton comes from soft and fluffy fibres that originate around the seeds of the same plant that produces it and whose main characteristic is that it absorbs humidity quickly.

Thanks to this capacity, cotton fabrics have the particularity of offering greater breathability than, for example, a polyester or leather fabric. Cotton allows air to penetrate between each of its fibres so that our skin can breathe and odours do not accumulate inside the fabric. 

In addition, if we prefer to opt for textile fabrics of natural origin, cotton is an excellent choice because it is especially durable and resist the washing and ironing process without losing quality.

Types of cotton fabrics

All cotton derivatives are not the same. Although we see the description 100% cotton in its composition, the final result can vary a lot from one garment to another.

Cotton textile derivatives are divided into:

  • Poplin: This is a fine fabric with horizontal lines that is used to make dresses, shirts and, in general, summer garments. Although there is also silk poplin, the most common is to find its cotton version.
  • Denim: This is usually used for trousers. These garments are often 100% cotton, although some models have other fibres such as elastane or polyester.
  • Flannel: It is usually a mixture of wool and cotton and it is usually used to make bed linen, jackets or shirts due to its high thermal power. The 100% cotton flannel is usually used when making baby clothes because it is softer than its mixture with wool.
  • Terry: This well-known fabric is used to make 100% cotton towels. However, in addition to the percentage of cotton, the quality of this type of towel will be determined by the amount of cotton thread present in its production. 
  • Fantasy fabrics (velvet): Although there is also silk velvet or synthetic velvet, the one that comes from cotton stands out for being warmer, stiffer and less shiny. It is often used to make jackets, capes and also to upholster armchairs.

Cotton garment care

Although, as mentioned above, cotton is one of the more used fabrics due to its durability, it has to be properly conservated. For example, it is important to know at what maximum temperature we should iron a cotton garment and, at the same time, how we should wash it so that it does not shrink.

Although cotton garments are very resistant, it is advisable to avoid washing them at too high temperatures (preferably below 40ºC) as they may shrink or lose part of their original colour. In fact, printed garments often require a separate first wash, so as not to dye other garments and to ensure that the colours remain strong.

Advantages of using cotton garments

It is also important to know the benefits of opting for this vegetable fabric. Cotton garments stand out for their comfort and versatility when it comes to dressing, but also for being hypoallergenic. Cotton is a very useful fabric for people with sensitive or atopic skin, as it almost never causes skin reactions. 

Finally, it is interesting to know that clothes made of cotton help us to control humidity and sweating because they are made of vegetable fibres with a high degree of breathability. In fact, it is precisely this ability to trap air between its threads that makes cotton an ideal fabric for winter and summer.