Pima, Supima or Regular Cotton T-shirts: Which Should you choose?


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Although the basic design of the t-shirt hasn’t changed much since its inception nearly a century ago, modern manufacturing refinements coupled with superior materials like SpectraUSA’s own Bi-Blend㢠technology means that the modern t-shirt can be made from a vast selection of fabric types and cotton grades. Lately, many outlets have started touting two rare types of cottons, justifying astronomical price markups to the world’s most-loved garment: Pima and Supima cotton. But what is Pima cotton, and it’s close cousin Supima cotton, and why should you bother with it?


Let’s start with Pima cotton, grown only in three places on the globe: Australia, Peru and the United States. The difference between Pima cotton and regular cotton is in the length and fluffiness of the fibers, with Pima having longer, fluffier fibers which, when knitted into a textile afford a very soft, and very durable finish to the garment. Due to the scarcity of Pima cotton, it fetches a giddy premium in cotton markets and is typically associated with luxury brands out to make a statement by utilizing rarified raw materials in their apparel lines. A Pima cotton t-shirt feels silky soft to the touch and can, typically, stand up to more washes that a natural cotton fiber t-shirt by virtue of its unusually elongated, fluffy fibers.


Supima Cotton, by contrast, is grown only in one place on earth: The USA. Supima means, “Superior Pima” and this cotton is grown right here in America, and here alone, to exacting environmental and sustainability standards. The name Supima is trademarked by the Supima Association, and Supima cotton has a rigorous manufacturing process. The principal difference between Supima and Pima cotton is that Supima is grown only in the US and, the Supima fiber is slightly different from the long, fluffy Pima cotton fiber. Where Pima cotton lends garments strength from an elongated fiber, and softness from a fiber which is fluffier than regular cotton, Supima ups the ante with one slight difference. Supima shares the strength and durability of Pima cotton as they both have elongated fibers; however, the Supima cotton fiber is even fluffier than the super-soft Pima cotton fiber, affording it a supreme softness unique to this American grown and made raw material. When you make a t-shirt from Supima cotton, it remains the benchmark of strength and softness for a garment created with natural fiber. 


The downside to all this is the prohibitive expense in both Pima and Supima cotton products, well beyond the reach of most mortals. If you are shopping around for a truly soft t-shirt with inherent durability as well as an ethereal softness, be prepared to pay a hefty premium for Supima, or it’s more common cousin Pima cotton. With this said, there is one alternative worth considering in your wardrobe choices.


The t-shirt remains the worlds’ favorite piece of casual-wear and/or underwear, sans pareil. Making it out of the most expensive cotton money can buy seems to be gilding the Lilly and seriously detracting from the wonderful, essential function of the garment itself-to be a fun, simple, comfortable and immanently disposable item of clothing. It is this last part, the transience, and disposability of simple casual cotton garments which makes the enormous price tag of Pima and Supima garments stick in the craw of most enlightened folks who love a good t-shirt. However, if you are shopping around for a truly soft, truly durable t-shirt at an affordable price which offers supreme softness coupled with a durable fiber and classic design, the SpectraUSA 3050 Bi-Blend㢠will reintroduce you to an honest, practical t-shirt which does not require the trappings of rarefied and imported cottons to provide a soft hand and durable finish. Bi-Blend㢠utilizes a unique scientific process to weave a synthetic fiber with high-grade cotton yarn, ring-spinning the finished product to ensure a very durable, fluffy, satin-soft finish which is then shaped into SpectraUSA’s world-class, industry-leading Bi-Blend㢠tees. A shirt we can assure you which is every bit a glamorous and soft as it’s more expensive cousins, without the glamorous price tag.