Ask the Tailor: What do Super Counts Mean?

Photo by Michael

Each month we ask our expert tailors to address one of your most frequent questions. This month we’re lifting the lid on super counts, what they are and what you need to know about them.

Ever heard the term super counts in relation to wool and wondered what it meant? We’re here to give you the lowdown. 

What are super counts?

Super counts, sometimes referred to as S numbers or worsted count, is a type of thread count. It is used as a way to measure the fineness of the wool fibre used in tailored garments. The fineness of the fibre is important as it will affect the way the garment will feel and how it will perform over time. 

Super counts are measured in micrometres and are often found on the label of a woollen garment. They’re denoted with a number, such as Super 100 or Super 200. The higher the number, the finer the wool fibre.

What’s the difference between super counts and S numbers?

There are strict regulations about the fibres fabric manufacturers can measure with a super count. In order for a fabric to be described as a super count, it needs to consist of pure new wool, including wool blended with luxury woollen fibres such as mohair or cashmere. Super counts can also include up to 5% non-wool yarn and Elastane. 

Wool manufacturers are not allowed to use super counts to describe wool blend fabrics. This is where S numbers come in. So long as the wool content in a blend is at least 45%, they can use an S number. This would be denoted as S100 or S200. 

How should you choose a super count?

Super counts and S numbers aren’t always easy to navigate. The prime reason for this is that finer isn’t always better! Very fine fabrics have higher super counts (Super 150 and above) and can feel beautifully soft, but they’re not always the best choice for a suit in terms of practicality. More hardwearing wools (around Super 100) won’t be as fine to the touch, but they are likely to continue to look good for much longer.

In short, the super count debate is a matter of fabric feel versus practicality. If you’re planning on investing in a very special suit for occasional wear, such as a wedding suit or tuxedo, you may wish to choose a higher super count. However, a more practical every day suit for the office is likely to be better suited to a lower super count. 

Next month we’ll be asking our tailors to share their thought on buttons: how many should you choose? Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.