Sea Island CottonIf you have a taste for luxury and can afford to indulge it then you might well be wearing a shirt made from sea island cotton. It's a fabric used in quality garments such as shirts and socks, as well as other items including handkerchiefs.
It's rarely used for bedding because of its price - Sea Island cotton sheets are an extravagance beyond most of our pockets - however you might find smaller items such as pillowcases.
What Is Sea Island Cotton?Sea Island cotton is a variety of Pima cotton (Gossypium barbadense) grown on the Sea Islands to the south east of the USA and in the West Indies. It was brought from Barbados to the US islands in the late 18th century and the name has now become synonymous with this region.
Attempts have also been made to cultivate the same strain elsewhere in the US however these have been largely unsuccessful. Genuine Sea Island cotton thus remains a yarn of very limited supply coming as it does from a relatively small geographic region.
Why is Sea Island cotton so desirable, what makes it such a high quality fabric? The answer lies in its extremely long staples (ELS). These very long fibres make it one of the finest cottons you can buy with a light, smooth texture reminiscent of silk. Of course the combination of limited supply and strong demand also mean a relatively high price.
James BondThe popularity of Sea Island cotton has been helped by one of its most famous fans - the fictional spy James Bond. Wherever possible 007 wore both casual and formal dress shirts made - by hand, of course - from the Sea Island cotton.
Bond fans can today buy online replicas of the original designs, made either with genuine Sea Island cotton or less costly alternatives. To the best of my knowledge the sophisticated Commander Bond never stooped so low as to be seen in a T shirt, not even one made from the finest materials!