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What Is Pima Cotton?

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Cotton is a hugely popular and extremely versatile material used to create hundreds of different types of goods, from clothing to towels, bedding to upholstery. But not everyone knows that there are many different types of cotton, some that are considered superior to others. The Pima cotton strain is widely revered to be the finest of all cottons.

Pima cotton is a type of extra-long staple cotton; the other well-known extra-long staple cotton is Egyptian cotton. Extra-long staple cotton means that each of the individual fibers that make up the fluffy cotton bud are at least one and three-eighths inches in length. Longer cotton fibers will result in a finished woven product that is softer, stronger, and longer-lasting than one made of short staple cotton. The cotton fibers of Pima cotton are 50% longer than those of standard cotton.

Pima cotton originated in Peru, but earned its name from the Pima tribe of American Indians who pioneered the cultivation of this superior strain of cotton in the south-west United States. Today, Pima is grown in Peru, Australia, and the United States. Pima cotton will only grow in mild, warm, and dry climates, so US farming is isolated to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Only about 3% of the cotton grown in the United States is Pima cotton, making it rare and far more expensive than standard cotton.

But what exactly makes Pima cotton superior? The answer lies in both the length and the strength of the fibers. Through the spinning and weaving processes that turn raw cotton crops into finished material, a longer fiber length means that fewer fiber ends are exposed on the surface. The result is a silkier, smoother material that resists pilling and holds its shape and luster much longer. Pima is also the strongest of all cottons, making fabrics that are durable and long-lasting.

Now you may have also heard of Supima cotton and might be wondering about the difference between this and Pima cotton. Well, Supima is Pima cotton, but not all Pima cotton is Supima. Confusing? Let me explain: Supima is a brand name, trademarked by the Supima Association, formed by combining the words “superior” and “Pima”. The role of the Supima Association is to regulate the purity, verify the authenticity, and promote and market the superior qualities of Pima cotton. Supima also requires that its cotton be exclusively grown in the USA. Once the Supima Association deems cotton to meet its strict quality requirements and as being sourced through a verified supply chain in the United States, it can be labeled as Supima cotton. The Supima label is intended to give consumers the confidence that they’re purchasing an authentic and premium quality product.

You’ll often see high-end clothing retailers advertising dress shirts or super-soft tees made of Pima or Supima cotton, but its use in bedding is far less common. The reason for this comes down to cost – Supima cotton is three-times more expensive than regular cotton. In creating our premium sheets, we tested out all kinds of cotton and found Supima to be the best of all. We know that to confidently say that we were selling the best sheets in the world, Supima cotton was the way to go. Its softness makes climbing into bed the best part of the day, and its quality and strength means this feeling lasts wash after wash.

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