The short guide to different suit fabrics: Know what you're buying
Clothing manufacturers sometimes deliberately confuse the issue to disguise inferior fabrics as something far more glamorous; a kind of fool’s gold for the unsuspecting consumer. Oscar Hunt's belief is quality materials and being honest with our clients. We’d like to give you a rundown of some of the fabrics you might come across and take the mystery out of your next shopping expedition.
If you’ve never been particularly agricultural, wool is made from a sheep’s fleece. It comes in various grades, from different breeds, both new and old. Australian Merino wool is by far the best and is one of our country’s largest exports. With extreme breathability and durability, it endures everyday wear and provides comfort. Good-quality wool will have the Woolmark symbol, which is an international body governing its use and guaranteeing that it’s pure new wool. Don’t settle for anything less.
A fleece of a different kind, cashmere comes from goats and has a greater softness than wool. Predominantly used in knitwear it’s a step above a woollen jumper, and is lighter weight and softer to the touch. In suiting it’s usually blended with wool and gives a suit a sumptuous feeling. Look for it in other accessories, such as scarves and ties.
Mohair comes from the angora goat when it is brushed with a special comb. One of the more high-end fabrics, it’s exceptionally resilient and its fibres draw moisture to the surface. Usually blended with other fibres such as wool, you should vow to own a mohair suit before you die.
Linen & Cotton
Both linen and cotton are sourced from plants: the flax plant and the cotton bush respectively. The fibres of each are spun and turned into lightweight and durable fabrics. Cotton is perfect for shirting as it’s low-care and can be washed with ease. Both cotton and linen are ideal for the summer months as they allow the suit to breathe and keep you cool in the heat.
Made from a process known as “carding”, wool is brushed in a way to retain the long fibres. It’s then dyed and spun to produce a melange colour: from afar it looks like one colour, but up close there’s variation in the colour. You’ll see it used in tartan or suits with more textural finishes, meaning it’s perfect for colder months.
While it does get a bad rap, polyester is something you should avoid for your suit’s outer. Suits made entirely from polyester have a stiffness and shine that has come to represent a cheap suit. Some manufacters will combine polyester with wool for suiting, or cotton and polyester for shirts citing its non-crease properties. However, if you buy better quality fabric it’s crease-resistant and allows the suit to breathe, meaning you won’t get hot and that your suit won’t shine in the sun.