Luxury Bedsheets…Or So Says the Label

Bedroom modern design with furniture

(DGIwire) — Over the years, one luxury Paris sheet maker has built its reputation catering to a high profile celebrity clientele. Current pricing for its 1,200 thread count queen set made with 100 percent Egyptian cotton will cost a buyer about $1,400 American.

Or… one can find the company’s sheets in the online marketplace, which also claims to offer a 1,200 thread count and 100 percent Egyptian cotton queen set—for only $70.94.

Now, we don’t know what efficiencies a company might have built into its business model to sell a similarly labeled product for one-twentieth the price. Possibly this is the deal of the century. We do know that in general we get what we pay for.

A growing number of textile products, whose fiber content might not match its label description, poses a big problem for brands, fashion design houses and textile companies. The world’s most sought-after brands are at high risk, says the U.S. Customs and Border Control, reporting that apparel and accessories account for more than 50 percent of all seized counterfeit goods.

The problem is particularly acute with upscale fibers such as cashmere, merino wool and luxury cotton such as American Pima and Egyptian Giza. Too often, when a luxurious fiber is sent abroad for manufacture of sheeting, towels or apparel, the original fiber content is blended with other, lower-quality fiber, greatly reducing costs—and inevitably, producing lower product quality. The bet is that a cheapened fabric will never be tested. True, blended fibers might look fine at first, but after a few washings, they begin to pill and thin, until—as one  reviewer of bedsheets put it—they “start to feel like coarse sand.”

Experts caution brand owners that the key is to control their supply chain. Meilin Wan, Textiles Executive Director for Applied DNA Sciences in Stony Brook, NY advised: “Brand owners should make sure that testing of the fiber content is carried out right at the source, on unprocessed fiber, as well as routine market sweeps at retail. And consumers should ask what is being done to test.”

Today, innovative tools are emerging to do those tests, protecting quality fiber starting right at their point of origin. In the case of luxury cotton, that might mean starting the process right at the bale of cotton.

Applied DNA Sciences has developed a technology, called SigNature® T, that enables a quality fiber like cashmere to be marked and then verified at every step of the textile manufacturing and assembly process. The technology was used to mark more than 50 million kilograms of American Pima fiber last year.

Says Dr. James A. Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences, “We are already making a difference by helping to prevent counterfeits in electronics for the U.S. military, so we know this technology works. We can do the same for textiles and apparel industries around the globe.”

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