Have you ever heard the term “Super 100’s” or seen it written on the inside of a suit? It’s often there looking like a badge of honor written in fancy writing “Super 120’s” or “Super 150’s”.
For some reason not many guys know what the term means even though it is used so frequently. Or they “think” they know and say stuff like “the higher the number the better the fabric so I only want Super 150’s”.
But is a higher number really “better”? Well, that actually depends on some important factors and before I can answer I need to tell you what the numbers mean. I’m going to try and stay out of being too technical…fabric measurements can get pretty in depth. I will make this simple for the casual suit wearer and buyer who is just looking to make an informed confident choice (and not get ripped off). So here it is boiled down into the simplest explanation I can render:
A Brief History
Super 100’s (or 200’s etc) refers to the fineness of the wool. It was a British term (where worsted, aka spun yarn was invented…in Worstead to be exact). In the primitive days around the 12th century, in order to grade fabrics they measured the number of 560-yard lengths of worsted yarn that 1 pound of wool yields. The finer the yarn, the the higher the number of 560-yard lengths you get…finer goes farther. For centuries a “fine” wool got 30 lengths…aka, Super 30….from a pound. The best of the best (wool destined for Saville Row) was Super 70 or 80. With modern technology, Super 70’s and 80’s are now the hardest wearing (read, rough, tough and heavy). Technology in wool has always been aimed, among other things, at achieving lightness. Here at Theodore 1922 we start at Super 110’s off the rack because it feels great, is light but it also wears well over time. http://www.iwto.org/wool/history-of-wool/
So what does this mean for you? The only time it starts to matter, in my opinion, is if you are contemplating buying anything above a Super 130. That is when you really start to see a difference. A Super 150-180 is so fine (and gorgeous and soft and luxurious) that it is not built for everyday use. You cannot dry clean this garment on a regular basis. You cannot wear this to work weekly. It’s like a Ferrari: gorgeous to drive, makes you feel like a million bucks but beware driving your kids in it everyday to school…or driving it at all in February!
The pant will wear quickly for a gent with “friction thighs” (you know who you are). My suggestion for a guy like this who wants a luxury garment, treat yourself to a Super 180’s sport jacket and stay in the performance fabrics for your pants.
So, to summarize:
Super #’s refer to the fineness of the fabric.
The sweet spot for longer wearing performance suits is in the Super 100’s-110’s area.
Splurging on a Super 150-180 is great as long as you treat it like the gem it is.