Rishi Chullani is a former banker turned fashion enthusiast and men’s formalwear fashion blogger. He enjoys delivering sartorial knowledge and updating his readers on trends in men’s formalwear fashion at Suit Up, Dress Up. He is also the founder of The Dark Knot, a new men’s neckwear line.
Customizing your suit should not come with any caveats. There are no limitations with a bespoke suit. Get it done well, and get it done right. A hallmark of a bespoke suit is the quality of fabrics that are often used. When it comes to bespoke fabrics, wool is often the preferred choice of material specified by the consumer. Why, you ask?
Wool is a standard term referencing the hair of animals – most sheep, but also extended further to include camels, goat and other exotic creatures. Its reputation as a luxury fiber is largely derived from its higher manufacturing costs along with the greater level of precision and care needed to maintain woolen clothing in good stand.
Wool versus other fabrics
Polyesters in general make for lower quality fabrics. They are synthetic and retain heat, making the overall experience uncomfortable. They also tend to be heavier than natural materials and are highly susceptible to wrinkling. Some polyester fabrics have a glossy shine, further lending to the artificial nature of the fabric. Like that oxymoron – ‘artificial nature’!
Cotton is a natural fiber, and is therefore a better alternative to polyester, and is sometimes preferred over wool in tropical regions. Despite the fact that it is considered a breathable fabric, its propensity to wrinkle leaves it behind wool in terms of superiority.
Wool as a fabric has weight and substance to it. As a result of its long standing before cheaper synthetic alternatives such as polyester were introduced, wool is often used as the yardstick by which most other fabric qualities are measured against. That being said, not all woolen suits will look the same. Everything from the animal that the wool originated from, to the cut and the process through which the final product was created from raw fabric will affect the look.
Durability and Flexibility
Wool is a resilient fabric that retains its shape over time, as its yarns spring back into shape as an extension of the fabrics natural elasticity. This natural elasticity makes wool relatively immune to tearing, versus less resilient fabrics such as cotton and silk.
Wool can absorb 20% of its weight in water before reaching a point where water starts to leak out of the fabric. This property makes wool an extremely attractive all season / weather choice of fabric to be worn.
Wool as a fabric insulates the wearer well, as it traps air close to the body, where it warms and becomes an added layer of insulation. A thin woolen jacket can be significantly warmer than a heavier fabric as a result of its insulation properties. While this can be disadvantageous in tropical conditions, there are woolen fabrics available with greater porous properties which would be ideal for warmer conditions.
Worsted versus Woolen
Wool can either be processed as ‘worsted’ or ‘woolen yarn’. Worsted is indicative of tightly spun yarns, that while heavier, are smoother to wear. Woolen yarns are lighter spun, and while lighter to wear, feels looser around the body, taking away from the whole bespoke feel. Worsted wool is the most popular fabric for luxury-end suits as its durable and wrinkle resistant. Worsted wools are typically defined by their ‘Super’ numbers. A Super 100 fabric indicates that the yarn has been twisted more than a Super 80 fabric. In general, the higher the Super number, the lighter the weight of the suit. A Super 120 wool will be extremely fine and smooth. Generally, the higher you go up in the spectrum, the easier the fabrics tend to wrinkle, as so, if you are ordering a Super 140 suit – only expect to wear it occasionally!
So there you have it! Now you know exactly why wool is considered a luxury fabric. The higher cost of wool clothing has resulted in greater availability of synthetic fabrics out in the market, but none come close to the quality of wool.