You’ve seen the numbers proudly displayed on the labels of finer men’s suits … Super 100’s, Super 120’s, Super 140’s … What do they really mean? Are you getting a better quality suit if you choose a higher ‘Super’ number? As you will discover, these numbers can be misleading and should not be used as a guide to suit quality.
What the Super Numbers Mean in Suit Fabrics
The super number (or S number) found on suiting fabrics are a grading system used to denote the fineness of the sheep’s-wool fiber twisted into the fabric’s yarn. The slimmer the fiber is, (measured in microns), the higher the super numbers become. Higher numbers translate to narrower ﬁbers, which produce softer, more delicate yarn. Because the sheep that produce these finer yarns are selectively bred, it gives this fabric an air of exclusivity. The end result is higher-priced men’s suits made with lighter, silkier wool fabric.
Do Super Wool Fabrics Make For A Better Suit?
Yes and no. Is a Ferrari a better car than a Toyota? Yes, if you are comparing top speed and performance. However, which car is better suited for daily driving? The Toyota, of course! It does not have the flashy performance of a Ferrari, but it is much more reliable for daily use. It will last longer and be cheaper to operate.
Your common $300 Jos. A. Bank wool suit will hold up better with frequent wear and dry cleaning than the Super 150’s wool Brioni suit that will cost you well over $3,000.00.
Suits made with ‘Super’ wool fabrics with high S numbers are much like expensive Ferraris. These luxury fabrics feel silky smooth and lighter when compared to more common types of wool. However, they are also more delicate, prone to wrinkling, and less durable. The suit made from a Super 150’s wool will wear out faster than a wool suit with a lower Super rating. What this means in the real world is that your common $300 Jos. A. Bank wool suit will hold up better with frequent wear and dry cleaning than the Super 150’s wool Brioni suit that will cost you over $3,000.00.
What The Experts Say
“Suit makers acknowledge that fabrics with high S-numbers are delicate and lightweight. But some say that a suit made of high-quality Super 150s or above could be worn to the oﬃce once a week and would last four or ﬁve years if it’s rarely dry cleaned. That’s roughly half as long as a good-quality Super 120s suit under the same conditions. Several salespeople at stores from Saks Fifth Avenue to Barneys New York advised us not to buy suits with high S-numbers for anything but special occasions.” – What’s Inside Your Suit, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2006.
“A very high S-system number doesn’t guarantee the best garments,” says Andy Gilchrist, author of “The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes.” “Such wools wrinkle almost as much as linen. They are delicate and not as durable as less-ﬁne wool.”
Do You Want Luxury or Good Value?
That Super 150’s wool suit may give you some bragging rights but is best reserved for infrequent wear. It will cost much more and not last nearly as long as a Super 80’s or Super 100’s wool suit. The truth is that there are beautiful men’s suits available in more reasonably priced wools that offer great value and provide years of good service. If you want a wool suit that is both good-looking and durable, avoid the high Super number wool fabrics. You’re paying more for less!