Day & Night
While linen may be the pride of the ancient Egyptians, there's another fibre that the current generation have a reputation for - Egyptian cotton. A term applied to the extra-long staple (ELS) cotton cultivated in the fertile Nile Valley and marketed as a premium in the bedding industry.
The recipe to a good night’s sleep starts with the sheets so marketers created this image that high-quality cotton and Egypt are synonymous. It has become a byword for luxurious, silky feel bedding but in reality may be woven with lower-quality cotton from cheaper sources. It sometimes doesn't contain a trace of Egyptian cotton because this material that's been sought after since the early 19th century is scarce.
Came along Supima and Pima, America's versions of Egyptian cotton, that when combined with terms like thread count, sateen or percale weaves, further complicates the simple truth.
ELS cotton essentially produces stronger and finer fibers that result in incredibly smooth and supple weaves. Conventional cotton tend to be made of shorter fibers that can protrude out of the weave. The fabric is coarser and weaker, even when twisted together to create an inflated thread count and false strength. Higher thread counts have long been associated with softer sheets when 300 is the number to look out for and anything over 500 isn’t exactly better. So what are the ingredients to a comfortable sleep?
100% natural fibres and intention to extend the product life of your sheets.
In some cultures, what have become worn with love are often praised more highly than the shiny and new. The Japanese are keen believers of this line of thinking, as reflected in mottainai, a feeling of regret at wasting the intrinsic value of a resource, and can be translated as both "don't be wasteful" and "too good to wasted". For us, we grew up with sayang, that directly means "love". While it may be misused as an excuse for excessive possession and unwillingness to discard large quantities of nonessentials, we believed that anything, particularly clothes and bedding, that has not been used to the fullest need not be replaced.
When Mom bought this Thomas & Friends bedding set, she didn't look into the thread count or if it's made of Egyptian cotton. Yet 21 years on, that girl in the photo still goes to sleep under the same bed cover because it gives the right amount of comfort in this humid Singapore weather. The landscape of Thomas in the Island of Sodor may have faded but the cotton bed cover is exceptionally soft from daily use and weekly wash cycles.
It's likely that it's made of extra-long staple cotton to last this long without showing any signs of disintegration while the sheet and pillow cases managed to serve a few years of wear and tear. Comforters, duvets, blankets, don't have to support weight day and night, the way mattresses and pillows do so you should expect them to last 15 to 25 years when well taken care of. Care with the intention to maintain personal hygiene while extending the product life by washing regularly without the use of a dryer or harsh detergents and rotating between several bedding sets. Think mottainai. Think sayang.
It's time we search for a bed cover that will fulfil years of service while we re-purpose Thomas to ensure every scrap of the bed cover doesn't go to waste. Want to know how we decide on the fabric and where Thomas will end up at? Join our mailing list to find out how it unfolds.