Say What? Those Egyptian Sheets Aren’t Egyptian?

I Started House of March because I wanted to find bedding that had full traceability. I’m going to come right out and say that when I was investigating starting my business I researched a lot of global factories and mills, I’m talking a lot – at least a year’s worth of emails and investigations. So, I think I have gained some expertise in the area of cotton product manufacturing, including Egyptian cotton. One thing that became apparent through my investigations is that many factories cannot provide full traceability of their cotton & bedding linens, and that definitely includes Egyptian cotton.

For a long time Egyptian cotton has been held up as the paradigm of luxury. Probably, a lot of us can’t even answer why we equate Egyptian cotton with luxury, we just know that we do. But, if you are curious as to why Egyptian cotton has been held in such high esteem, it is because it consists of extra long fibres which make the cotton highly durable as well as soft.

But, what happens if the Egyptian cotton isn’t even from Egypt?

Say what?

Yep, you heard me correctly, I asked: ‘What if the Egyptian cotton you are buying isn’t even from Egypt, then what is it?’

Egyptian Cotton Phoneys

Target recently announced it would be refunding over $90 million to customers after it was found to be selling fake “Egyptian cotton” for 2 years. It turns out that their supplier was substituting non-Egyptian cotton for Egyptian cotton, which is an absolute no no, as only cotton which is grown in Egypt may carry the name. The same supplier also supplied Walmart in the USA and JC Penny and Fieldcrest.

Possibly it wouldn’t have been a massive problem if it wasn’t for the fact that Egyptian cotton sheets are considered a luxury product and therefore generally come with a hefty price tag. So, it goes without saying that consumers will feel very cheated if it turns out that their luxury Egyptian cotton is something different.

This highlights a real problem with the textile industry – traceability or lack thereof. If a supplier isn’t audited by an independent body, who certifies that their product is as stated, then how can buyers be assured that they are getting what it says on the label?

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Egyptian cotton is on the decline. For the year 2016-2017, the USDA estimated that there would be a 53% decrease in Egyptian cotton production, to an all time low of 160,000 bales. How is it possible then, that so many websites and stores are selling Egyptian cotton sheets? I believe it isn’t possible. Therefore, I think that a lot of the Egyptian cotton sheets, on the market, are phoneys.

But don’t just believe me. In 2016 the Cotton Egypt Association, who are responsible for certifying Egyptian cotton administered from Cairo, DNA tested “Egyptian Cotton” being sold by retailers and came to conclusion that 90% of “Egyptian Cotton” didn’t contain any cotton produced in Egypt.

Not good.

Don’t Believe The Marketing

So what can consumers do?

Well, if consumers are concerned then they can look for proof of claims, e.g. look to see if there is a certification that the Egyptian cotton is just that. After all, it is generally not small amounts of money being exchanged for Egyptian cotton  goods and I’m sure most consumers would be annoyed to find out that the expensive diamond ring they purchased is actually cut glass, so surely the same applies to bedding?

Also, don’t solely associate luxury bedding with Egyptian cotton or “high thread count”. At House of March we supply what we believe to be a superior cotton and it is neither Egyptian nor is it “high thread count”, but it is still durable and highly luxurious.

Finally, consumers should keep in mind that sometimes, when seeking out true luxury and comfort, it pays to look beyond the marketing.



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