March 19, 2022

The Supers: What They Mean and How to Choose

When venturing into creating a custom suit, the wearer is faced with a big decision: what fabric will it be made of? Not only are there a multitude of colors and blends to consider, but there is also a classification of the suit’s wool itself; the super number aims to inform us of the weave weight of the fabric. This number refers to the diameter of the wool fibers. For example, a Super 80’s yarn would be a maximum of 19.75 microns in diameter and a Super 200’s yarn would have a maximum diameter of 13.75 microns. For reference, human hair ranges in diameter from 18 to 181 microns. As the yarn becomes smaller in diameter, the resulting fabric tends to be softer and lighter weight with a better drape, however it also becomes less durable. A higher super number may be ideal for a suit meant for special occasions while a lower super number can be better for regular wear. Wearing a suit made of a Super 180’s fabric on a regular basis may cause a faster wearing down of the fabric because of the finer quality of the fibers. The best supers for regular wear are 100-150’s, because they will provide the most comfort while remaining durable.

So how often is “regular wear”? A suit meant for work could ideally be worn as often as once a week - or twice a week at most - which is why durability is so important. In the case of a suit or tuxedo reserved for special occasions, it may only see the light of day a couple of days per year, so a less durable fabric is acceptable in favor of a luxurious look and feel. At most, a garment such as this could be worn once a month in order to avoid quickly wearing down the fabric. Furthermore, one must keep in mind the higher cost of fabrics with high super numbers. While buying a particularly luxurious suit once a year sounds reasonable, the regular repair and replacement of such a suit due to frequent wear could become more burdensome.

It is important to note that super numbers, while a great guide for narrowing down fabric choices, are not always consistent across textile manufacturers. A Super 130’s suit made of Loro Piana fabric may not feel the same as that of another label with the same blend despite the grading system. Furthermore, the weight and breathability may change depending on how tightly the yarn is woven. We highly recommend looking at fabrics from more than one brand in person so that you can find something that feels great to you, rather than choosing based on the super number alone.

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