Thread Therapy

Egyptian Cotton Thread

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Bob Purcell (Chief Threadologist of Superior Threads) discusses how Egyptian cotton thread is classified. Egypt's cotton production estimates have ranked it at #15 (country) as far as production amounts for 2011. China is #1. India is #2. USA is #3 Pakistan is #4. Bob also discusses the history of how cotton grown outside of Egypt became to be called "Egyptian Cotton". Superior Threads cotton thread is truly Egyptian-grown cotton.

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Video Transcript

Bob: Egyptian cotton; one of my favorite topics. Another big lie in the thread world. All that thread out there that is Egyptian cotton, all the bed sheets, all the clothing, all the towels that say Egyptian cotton; they're lying to you. There's no way in the world that Egypt grow enough cotton to have all this cotton, or the Egyptian cotton that's out there. In the rank of cotton growing countries Egypt is number ten. So if we do a bar graph we've got number one, China. Number two, three, four, five, six, seven, and by the time we get to number ten they grow this much on the bar graph, compared to number one's this much. Egypt's number ten. There's no comparison. There's no way Egypt grows enough cotton to have all these Egyptian Cotton products out there. Absolutely impossible.

United States is in the lower half, so there's in the top ten, but they're down there. Egypt is huge, India's big, Pakistan is big. Then we get down to the U.S. Why do they call it Egyptian cotton? Some of it is actually deceptive, some of it is ignorance. Here's what happened in the cotton world. In the late 1860's southeastern U.S., they were able to develop a higher grade cotton. That was really the first time long staple cotton is developed. It's called Sea Island cotton. Great cotton, longer fiber, stronger, better, everybody wanted it, this is the 1860's. Of course, as traders are going around the world they take the good cotton, the good seeds and they take them around the world and they took these and some ended up in Egypt, and they planted them in Egypt. And it flourished and Egyptian cotton became well known as that's the prize that I want. That's the best. I want Egyptian cotton. So guess what people did? They bought the seeds from the Egyptian cotton crop, took those around the world, and guess what name stuck. Egyptian cotton. That's why I have seen labels that say Egyptian cotton, made in India. Egyptian cotton, made in China. How do they do that? It doesn't come out of Egypt. There's no way; Egypt doesn't produce enough cotton, but the name stuck.

Some of it really is innocence, because by the time now factories would buy a bale of the cotton, who knows where it came from? You can't tell under a microscope if it was grown in Egypt. Does it really matter, by the way? Anyone from Idaho? Okay Idaho, what's Idaho famous for?

Audience: Potatoes.

Bob: Does it really matter?

Audience member: Yes.

Bob: Yes?

Audience member: I can’t tell the difference

Bob: You can’t tell the difference? Well guess what, those who know potatoes say there is a difference. And guess who knows potatoes, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, all those fast foods, the ones that sell French fries; and they want the Idaho potato before they want any other potato. In fact, they will contract years in advance for potato growers in Idaho to take their entire crop. They want all they can get and when they can't get enough then they go to the Oregon, perhaps California and Midwestern states. There is a difference, because something about the soil, the climate, the minerals, the water, something about the Idaho potato that makes the ideal French fry and those who know potatoes really, really know the difference.

So it is in Egypt. If you do have an Egyptian grown cotton, there's a difference. The soil, the climate, there's something about how they do it in Egypt that really does make a premium cotton thread. How do you know? Impossible because so many labels now say Egyptian cotton. The only way that we know ours is grown in Egypt and by the way we're the only company that can honestly say, as far as I'm aware, Egyptian-grown cotton. We put that on our label now because we buy it by the ton in Egypt and we have these huge, huge bales going on the boat from Egypt to Japan because Japan is the only country in the world that will listen to us for quality processing. Nobody else will. The U.S. won't, we tried. They won't listen to us. Japan will and Japan's response is "yeah we can do that, but it's going to cost you." We say "fine." So there is a difference in the Egyptian grown cotton. The one in your hand, that clean cut one, is an extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton thread.

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