A few years back when traveling in Italy, Ariel Kaye had a euphoric night of sleep thanks to a set of intensely soft hotel sheets. Upon returning to the states, she was determined to find equally fine bedding that wouldn't cost her a month's rent. The search left her sleep-deprived. So the 29-year-old did what any entrepereneur would: started her own bedding brand, , which launches next week. During her pursuit for flawless, sumptuous sheets, Kaye uncovered the truth behind thread count. Below, she breaks down why you may find your perfect sheets withouta sky-high number stamped on.
ELLEDECOR.com: So you don't believe in thread count. Why?
Ariel Kaye: In theory, the idea of thread count sounds great. I'll be the first to admit that I've been trained to equate large numbers with luxury, and have mostly accepted this as fact. However, when it comes to shopping for bedding, leading authorities agree it's not the best indicator of quality.
Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric—add the vertical ones (technically, the "warp") to the horizontal ones (the "filling"). But in reality, it's not that straight forward. Only so many pieces of thread can fit into a specific space. With bedding, that number maxes out around 400. That means some manufactures employ some creative counting to land those 1,000- numbers.
ED: Where did this whole thread count myth get started?
AK: The very idea of thread count is a relatively new construct. The first 1,000- thread count sheets hit the shelves in the early 2000s as a way for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from the competition. These sheets used a very fine cotton, which resulted in a higher-ply—and therefore, a higher thread count—material. The competition followed suit, even though labeling thread count prior to this was virtually unheard of; quality was determined by the material and the feel.
ED: What do you believe in?
AK: We focus primarily on the caliber of the thread and the manufacturing process.
At Parachute, we use Egyptian long-staple fibers and the highest quality cotton. Those fibers translate to a stronger thread and lower thread count...but ultimately bedding that is softer and will last much longer than sheets made from a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count.
Our manufacturing partners are artisans who carry forward an Italian tradition and heritage that dates back over 60 years. The methods they use to select the fabric, remove impurities, dye fabrics naturally is a testament to their experience and passion for delivering quality linens.
ED: So, your sheets don't have a particular thread count associated with them?
AK: There's actually no FTC mandate on how to determine thread count, just a voluntary standard that only threads are counted, regardless of ply. Manufacturers aren't forced to comply. Sheets typically have exaggerated thread counts, often by three to five times the true number!
ED: If thread count is irrelevant, when shopping for sheets what should you look for?
AK: I typically recommend that people think about the type of sensation they prefer against their skin. Some enjoy a cool and crisp feel while others like their bedding super soft and smooth. Find a feeling that beckons you to bed each night and delivers you to the world fresh and rejuvenated. You spend one third of your life in bed. Every moment should be one that offers the feeling you are seeking.
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