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I will never forget the day I first experienced pima cotton. It really is lovely stuff. Gents who have tried a pima polo shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt will know just how heavenly pima cotton feels against the skin. It’s taken a long time for cotton this soft to come about; believe it or not, our pima cotton polos have a long history that goes back to the early 1900s when it was first developed. Read on for more pima cotton trivia you didn’t know that you wanted to know (until now).
Pima cotton was originally a cotton blend
We have the early Peruvians to thank for pima cotton - it belongs to a species of cotton that was originally grown in Peru in 4200 BC. Pima cotton as we know it today was developed in the desert in America’s southwest by blending Sea Island cotton from Peru with Egyptian cotton in the early 1900s. The project was sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and called the Pima Improvement Project.
Pima cotton was named after a group of American Indians
Pima cotton was originally called American-Egyptian cotton but the name was changed in honour of the Pima Indians who helped grow the first pima cotton on a farm in Sacaton, Arizona in 1910.
Pima cotton is particularly soft and luxurious
Pima cotton is an extra long staple cotton, which means it has unusually long and silky fibres – the vital ingredients for making our pima cotton polo shirts so luxurious. In fact, in order to be deemed long staple, cotton must measure one and three-eights of an inch or longer.
Pima cotton is very strong and durable
Pima cotton is also particularly fine, which means it is also very strong. Now this isn’t as confusing as it sounds: the fact that it is made up of very fine threads means more fibres can be spun into the cloth. The more fibres in a cloth, the higher the thread count and in turn, the stronger and softer the fabric.
Pima cotton can only be grown in certain conditions
The plant that produces pima cotton is called gossypium barbadense which has yellow flowers and black seeds. The plant also produces Egyptian cotton and Sea Island cotton and it can only be grown in specific conditions with full sun, high humidity and rainfall. Today, the majority of pima cotton is grown from this plant in the US, Australia and Peru.
Pima cotton is softer than other cottons
Pima cotton is often confused with upland cotton which is the most common cotton fabric. However, pima cotton (the one you’ll find in our pima polos) is stronger and more durable than upland cotton. When the cotton is separated after it is harvested (a process called cotton ginning), pima cotton is roller ginned rather than saw ginned which, although more expensive, produces a softer fabric.
There are a range of pima cotton products available
As well as our pima cotton polo shirts, you can find pima cotton t-shirts, sweaters, tank tops, ties, socks, bed sheets and towels. All are very soft indeed.