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History of Sea
The world's most
Discovered in the early 18th century in the British West Indies, Sea Island cotton is the tropical strand of the same "gossypium barbadense" plant that American Pima and Egyptian Giza cotton are descended from. The extra long staple fibers allowed for smoother, more luxurious cotton fabrics to be woven than ever before, which quickly led to Sea Island cotton being known as the finest in the world.
Incredibly Limited Supply
Barbados Sea Island Cotton
Cotton Produced Worldwide
While first found in Barbados, the cotton seeds were brought up to the islands along South Carolina and Georgia to be grown for the U.S. market around the same time as the invention of the cotton gin. It was then that Sea Island cotton became well known and turn into a valuable commodity for local farmers.
The American Civil War decimated much of the U.S. Sea Island cotton production in the mid-19th century, and subsequent pest infestations nearly ended Sea Island cotton farming in the United States. Luckily the crop survived in its original home of the Caribbean, albeit in much smaller production quantities.
Today, Sea Island cotton is an ultra-premium, rare fabric used by luxury brands for their finest products, widely regarded as the best shirting cotton in existence.
The perfect climate
Barbados is cotton paradise. Along with Jamaica and Antigua it’s become the main producer of this rare cotton, and specifically Barbados-grown Sea Island cotton is considered the finest available.
The incredibly uniform, humid climate of Barbados allows the cotton plants to grow in a consistent way throughout the year. This gives the fabrics the supremely soft feel they're known for—the fewer the irregularities in the raw material, the softer the hand of the finished product. The average high temperature in Barbados ranges from 82 degrees Fahrenheit in January to 84 degrees in July. A typical daily fluctuation in temperature is just 7 degrees. Combine this with a consistent 8-10 hours of daylight year-round and Barbados has a remarkably stable climate in which cotton plants can thrive undisturbed.
Barbados has a remarkably stable climate that allows cotton plants to thrive undisturbed.
When it’s ready to be harvested, the cotton in Barbados is picked by hand to ensure the highest quality levels. This dedication to luxury means that Sea Island cotton accounts for just 0.006% of the cotton produced worldwide each year. Egypt can produce up to 74,000 bales of extra long staple length cotton per year, with 1,480 of those bales being their premiere "Giza 45" cotton. Just 130 bales of certified West Indies Sea Island Cotton are produced each year, with only 70 bales coming from Barbados—100% of it going to the prestigious David & John Anderson mill in Italy.
Sea Island Cotton
First picked by hand in Barbados, the finest Sea Island cotton must be approved by the West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association (WISICA) to assure quality. It is then sent to Bergamo, Italy, where it's woven into its final fabric form. Once it has passed yet another inspection, this incredible fabric is ready to be cut and sewn into shirts.
A unique combination of characteristics makes Sea Island Cotton desirable: extra long staple length (above 1 3/8"), remarkable fiber strength, incredibly uniform growth, and significant brightness in color.
Accounting for just .0006% of the cotton supply worldwide, Sea Island Cotton is the rarest in the world.
While Egyptian cotton, highly regarded by many shirting experts, can boast extra long staple length above 1 3/8", fans of Sea Island cotton say its durability, consistency, and brightness surpass that of the Egyptian strains. The extra long staple length allows both Egyptian and Sea Island cotton to be woven into high thread count fabrics, but it is the uniformity and hairlessness of the Sea Island cotton fibers that allow it to wear softer and be more resistant to wear from washing. Rather than degrade over time, the hand of Sea Island Cotton improves from wash to wash and the color maintains its vibrancy.
As is the case with many luxury goods, Sea Island cotton has many imitators. In the hopes of piggybacking on its prestigious reputation, many fabrics today will be marketed as "Sea Island Quality". While these imitator fabrics are generally made from extra long staple length cotton of great quality, only cotton certified by the West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association (WISICA) should be trusted as true Sea Island quality.
David & John
A benchmark for
excellence in shirting.
In 1822 David Anderson started his mill, weaving lightweight gingham fabrics in Glasgow, Scotland. Surrounded by pure water rivers and a plentiful source of iron and coal, Glasgow proved to be an ideal location for a young fabric mill at the time.
Twenty years after David Anderson founded the mill, his brother John joined him and helped grow the company into a prestigious producer of cotton fabrics with a global reputation for quality. As this reputation continued to grow over the decades, David & John Anderson became the preferred mill of some of the world's top shirt makers for the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries.
As the market for menswear waned in the later part of the 20th century, DJA had difficulty continuing their production in the UK. Luckily, the Albini Group (Italian weavers of Thomas Mason fabrics) acquired the prestigious company and moved all of the production to their facilities in Bergamo, Italy.
Now serving as Albini Group's most premium line of shirting fabrics, DJA continues its legacy of producing only the finest shirting fabrics. With only 2-ply and 3-ply yarn, they push the limits of luxurious dress shirting from 120s all the way up to 330s thread counts.
A Shirt Without Compromise
Made by Proper Cloth –
just for you.
We believe fabric made to the absolute highest standards—like Sea Island Cotton—deserves a shirtmaker just as uncompromising in their quality.
As soon as we receive Sea Island cotton from Italy, we test it for durability, performance, and shrinkage. Each order is then hand-assembled according to your custom size and style specifications. Our variety of collar styles, cuffs, buttons, and monograms allow you to personalize your shirt to perfectly fit your style.
Each order is hand-assembled according to your custom size and style specifications...
Finally, each one of our shirts go through a rigorous hand inspection before leaving our production facility. Our attention to detail and Perfect Fit Guarantee ensure that you'll enjoy your Sea Island Cotton shirt for years to come.
The Sea Island Collection
The essentials. Designs with timeless spread collars, luxurious Mother of Pearl buttons, and versatile one- and two-button cuffs.