What is Mercerised Cotton?
Mercerised cotton is a term used for cotton that has gone through a process called Mercerisation. This process is a treatment for cellulosic materials but most often cotton theads and gives them additional strength. It was found that the mercerised fibres had additional benefits in that they were able to absorb more water, thus absorbing more dye than standard, making the coloration of the dyed cloth much deeper and vibrant. This can be as much as 25% which is a huge difference to the colour of a garment.
Additionally, not only does it make the colour a lot more vibrant, it actually gives the cotton a much higher resistant to the washing process, allowing the garment to keep its colour for a longer period. This adds value to the garment and is a unique selling point as only higher quality fabrics go through the mercerisation process.
The actual mercerisation process dates back to the late 1800’s when John Mercer was issued with a British Patent for this process when he realised that cotton and other fibres actually changed their characteristics when merged with caustic soda, sulfuric acid and other chemicals. At this stage, the process didn’t add any luster to the fibre until 1890. This was when Horace Lowe found that high luster was gained when Mercer’s caustic soda process was added to the fibre once it was under high tension.
Main Benefits Of Mercerised Cotton
- Deeper and more bright colouration
- Cotton obtains a higher resistant to the washing process
- High luster is gained
What Types of Cotton Are Chosen To Be Mercerised?
It is typical that cotton with longer fibres such as Egyptian Pima and Sea Island would be selected to be mercerised. Egyptian Pima cotton is a favourite with Italian brand CP Company for their range of luxury polo shirts for men.
What Brands Use Mercerised Cotton
Not all clothing manufacturers use mercerised cotton. It is mainly adopted by high-end luxurious brands wanting to showcase their garments that have these colour enhancing properties that will last for a long time. The mercerisation process usually dictates that the garment will be more expensive than a similar piece by the same brand. Menswear brands that have used mercerised cotton in the past include:
- C.P Company
- Paul Smith
- Stone Island