Thread-Count Wars

First sheets, now shirts.

A generation ago, most American men were perfectly content in buttoned-down oxford cloth. Now, "thread count" has entered the male sartorial lexicon. As in, "My thread count is higher than yours."

In 2001, Thomas Pink, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, introduced shirts made of 170-count cotton, yours for $195. This holiday season, Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts, Pink's slightly-off-price rival, brought forth a 180-count line, priced at $160. (Bonus: free sterling silver collar stiffeners, made in England, a $50 value.)

Who needs a 180-count shirt, much less silver stiffeners? Well, no one, of course. But "part of our job is to make a man feel good when he gets up in the morning," says Nicholas Wheeler, Tyrwhitt's president and cofounder. A great shirt helps a guy "feel comfortable and confident in himself. This could be the one shirt he wears to board meetings."

Our take: These shirts do feel good. $160-good? That's debatable. But we'd wear them to all our board meetings. (In an informal, labels-hidden survey, Fast Company staffers barely preferred the Tyrwhitt 180's finer weave to the Pink 170's silkier feel.)

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  • Forty Seven Msgs

    I assume the staff who wrote the above article years ago, wish it would go away, because they were ignorant of the subject matter.  The shirts in question were 170's and 180's.  Those numbers are NOT thread counts.  They refer to yardage per hank. A 170's or a 180's is an incredibly fine yarn indeed. I don't know how to estimate thread count for a fine cotton shirt of 180's fabric, but it would probably be close to double the number 180.