March 29, 2022 6 min read
When shopping for a new piece of clothing, you are usually bombarded with a wide range of fabric combinations and styles that may not make any sense to you. What is a 65%/35% poly-cotton blend? Why is Egyptian Cotton so outrageously expensive? Why should I care about the textiles used to produce this jacket, and what makes this piece of clothing more expensive than the others (aside from the brand name)?
Two of the most popular fabrics for work clothes are 100% cotton or a poly-cotton blend. Both offer incredible advantages and some disadvantages, but which of the two is the best choice and why would you favor one over the other? The short answer is that it is up to what your expectations are and what you prefer. The type of work you do and your work environment are also factors you need to take into consideration. Read below as we compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of the materials you most commonly find in a restaurant kitchen.
Cotton is usually light, breezy, hypoallergenic, and feels great in a hot environment (where moisture isn't an issue). 100% cotton is a fully breathable fabric, which means that it can be cooler to wear in hot conditions. However, 100% cotton clothing tends to rip and wear out easily depending on the weave, and durability is arguably one of 100% cotton clothing's biggest weaknesses. With this, you'll need to take into consideration how you wash and maintain your clothing for it to last long. If you sweat easily, cotton may not be your first choice as it retains moisture longer than other materials. Cotton can be considered a nonwicking fabric as it can get saturated and take forever to dry. Initially, it makes you feel hot and sticky; ultimately, it will leave you feeling cold and clammy.
Another disadvantage of cotton is shrinkage. You'll have to consider sizing and how much the piece of clothing may shrink when washed. You'll also need to consider maintenance after washing as the cotton fabric is more prone to wrinkles than its counterparts. This means more upkeep, not only in terms of durability.
Of course, there are many different types of cotton, and aside from Denim one of the most recognizable kinds of cotton, Egyptian Cotton, is often considered the finest cotton in the world. Compared to your standard Poplin Cotton (used to make clothing), Egyptian Cotton fibers are grown exclusively in the Nile Delta in Egypt. The cotton is usually grown slower and for longer feeding off the consistent supply of nutrients from the Nile. The end result is exceptionally fine fibers (smaller in diameter than regular cotton) used to make the world's most luxurious textiles. Egyptian Cotton is considered finer, more durable, softer, and smoother than regular poplin cotton fibers.
Polyester (used to make poly cotton)
Polyester, unlike cotton, does not breathe and has a tendency to stick to your skin once you begin to sweat. In terms of durability, polyester is a more elastic fiber which means it is often considered tear-resistant and typically has wrinkle recovery properties. However, polyester is not considered to be as abrasion-resistant as a cotton canvas.
Polyester is derived from a chemical reaction involving petroleum, air, and water meaning that you don't need to grow and harvest plants leading to a reduced cost in the manufacturing of polyester when compared to 100% cotton.
A fabric made from a poly-cotton blend combines the strengths of the two fibers, polyester, and cotton. A poly-cotton garment tends to be breathable, tear-resistant, and can be fashioned into fabrics that are abrasion-resistant. While not as inexpensive to produce as a polyester garment alone, poly-cotton blends do tend to cost less than garments made of 100% cotton and they are often considered to be much more comfortable.
You'll find that poly cotton blends can be washed much more than 100% cotton fabrics. Because of this, you can wear and wash your poly-cotton item much more often without worrying about the material losing its durability. Ultimately, one of the largest advantages of the poly-cotton blend is that it is so heavily relied upon for heavy usage - leading to its popularity in athletic apparel.
Cotton and polyester blends simply exhibit properties that can't be achieved using either fiber alone, and that's what makes this fabric ideal for chef jackets.
Poly-Cotton does have its disadvantages, however. Typically, poly-cotton isn't favored in a very hot environment, 100% cotton could be more desirable as it is such a breathable product. You'll also find that poly-cotton isn't favored in 'High-Fashion' as it is often considered cheap based on the feel and the fact that it does not absorb moisture well.
Taken separately each material has its own advantages and disadvantages however poly-cotton truly is the best of both worlds... but master of none. When you're picking 100% cotton or 100% polyester you're getting the absolute best from each fabric (if you ignore their cons). Blending the two gives you some of the advantages of each combined into one.
With all of this taken into consideration, we've developed jackets that utilize the strengths of poly cotton and have added materials that play on their weaknesses. This integration of different materials has created, what we believe, are some of the best chef jackets in the industry.
Although poly-cotton doesn't offer as much breathability as 100% cotton garments we wanted to create clothing that does. With this in mind, we have developed a textile technology that offers an enhanced version of 100% cotton breathability and wicks sweat away from your body to keep you dry and cool.
Our synthetic moisture-wicking fabric essentially has two jobs: one is to quickly move (or wick) sweat to the fabric's outer surface and the second is to dry rapidly so your sweat doesn't saturate the fabric. This allows your body to regulate temperature efficiently with the fabric offering a dry, nonstick feel.
Our Dry-UP jackets utilize this 'smart' fiber and wicks sweat through the inside of the jacket into the exterior using a 'capillary action'. Your sweat will move through tiny spaces within the fabric due to the molecular forces between liquid and the fabric's internal surfaces. This means that you stay dry and cool when working in a hot environment. The open weave optimizes airflow through specific areas where heat and sweat is most commonly generated. If you were to purchase one of our Dry-UP jackets you'll find that the wicking material is located where people tend to sweat most: In the armpits, on the back, and alongside the ribs. The combination of these four materials offers something truly unique to the chef jacket industry. We recommend you check out our DRY-UP jackets if you work in a hot kitchen and are tired of swimming in wet tacky clothes at work.
Our Hybrid jackets utilize the breathability, durability, and form that poly-cotton offers and combines these materials with others to produce high quality, durable, extremely breathable, and comfortable chef jackets. Hybrid jackets often sport a poly-cotton base in the torso area. This offers protection from external elements like hot splashing oil and combines that with the absolute comfort and breathability of non-deformable technical jersey fabric.
The jersey fabric we are describing has been developed specifically for professional use. It consists of cotton on the inside of the material for optimal skin contact comfort and a tightly woven polyester on the outside for color longevity and an impeccable fit. If you are someone who doesn't necessarily like wearing a shirt under your chef jacket, the comfort offered with our Hybrid jackets may be what you're looking for!
Alone each of these materials has its advantages but when combined they have the ability form a complete and unique piece of clothing that offer the best of all worlds. However, at the end of the day it is up to the wearer and what they believe will meet their expectations.
Whether you're still team cotton or don't mind synthetics we hope this sheds a bit of light different types of fabrics in the industry and that you can take away a new piece of knowledge. Whether you're a chef shopping for a new jacket or someone else in a different industry shopping for new work clothing, this information should be relative for all fields. If you have any questions about fabrics we use or any fabrics commonly found in apparel please leave us a comment below, and we'll be happy to answer. If you're interested in learning about the quality and manufacturing of clothing check out this link here.
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