Quality and Traceability

Quality you’d expect from experts in laundering fine linens

 

At The Barker Collection we aim to help guide you to make the right decisions when choosing your luxury bedding sets with important information to safe guard your investment when it comes to caring for your linen.  After all, we have been laundering fine linens for decades, specialising in the care of luxury bed linen for our clients that include the Royal Family, the homes of British Gentry, Luxury Hotels, Super Yachts and private individuals throughout England.

With many years of handling a huge variety of fabrics ranging in quality, it goes without saying that we have become experts in the process; it has taught us the elements that are needed to make the perfect product and therefore only the very best quality products qualify to join the Barker collection.

Investment & Peace of mind

Vintage linen is highly sought-after, often handed down through the generations and we believe the products should stand the test of time.  Therefore superior quality bed linen is the ultimate investment when it comes to creature comforts and also makes a great gift for family, friends and newlyweds. When laundering fine linens they will become softer and even more comfy with every wash.  But nowadays it’s difficult to find the best investment piece, as there are inferior products on the market that simply don’t perform well during the laundry process.

We are very conscious of the anticipated product longevity and are often asked by our clients, ‘How long will my bedding last?’  In truth, it is difficult to answer this question because personal usage significantly varies.  For example a set of bedding that is infrequently used because it’s for a guest room is going to wear slower than bedding being used on a daily basis and laundered weekly.  However, we understand where the customers are coming from. That’s why we constantly bare this in mind when adding new bedding sets to the Barker collection. It’s the reason that we launched the ‘Barker Laundry Test’.  All our bedding is tried and tested and we share the results with you, to assist you with your buying decisions and give you peace of mind when making a purchase.

So it’s important to invest in products that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but are made to an extremely high standard and perform well when laundering, so it’s going to survive the test of time.  Honest thread count is important and more frequently ‘ethically sourced’ and ‘traceable products’ have become paramount to our discerning customers when making their purchasing decisions as this too, gives them peace of mind.
By choosing to have your items laundered before they arrive you are able to use the items straight away. Your newly washed and ironed bedding will be beautifully presented, in our signature gift box and delivered to your door, bed ready.

Quality Explained

 

The two main features that make a good set of bed linen have to be the feel or handle of the woven fabric and the items lifetime through regular use and regular laundering.

When we talk of bed linen, we are, on the whole, referring to cotton being the most widely used fabric due to its soft nature and durability. The feel of woven cotton is determined by a number of factors but it starts with the cotton length known as the staple length. The staple is a collection of threads taken from the cotton boll, picked from the cotton plants. The longer the staple length, the better the quality of the spun cotton as it has less joins and will create a less hairy yarn.

Short staple – less than 1⅛” or 28mm

Long staple – between 1⅛” and 1⅜” or between 28mm and 35mm

Extra-long staple – from 1⅜” or from 35mm up to 50mm

The cotton in Egyptian cotton sheet sets is grown in Egypt, but the very same cotton is grown in other regions. In fact, the cotton species, Gossypium barbadense, is actually not native to Egypt at all, but was introduced to Egypt in the 19th century by one of Egypt’s rulers, Mohammed Ali Pasha.

Gossypium barbadense, is also known as extra long staple (ELS) cotton as it generally has a staple of at least 1⅜” or longer, and it is also known in the marketplace as Sea Island cotton.  It is simply a species of cotton plant. Varieties of ELS cotton include American Pima, Egyptian Giza, Indian Suvin, Chinese xinjiang, Sudanese Barakat, and Russian Tonkovoloknistyi

All Barker cotton is made from long or extra-long staple cotton spun into single threads. Our thread count is measured in a 1 inch square, which is the traditional and correct way to measure the thread count.

Quality Cotton source

The regions of the world where cotton is grown has invariably been used by manufacturers and retailers to portray quality; for instance, at one time, Egyptian cotton was generally considered to be some of the best cotton in the world and is still retained in consumer’s minds to mean high quality cotton. This is because for hundreds of years until early in the last century, cotton grown on the banks of the Nile enjoyed environmental conditions that were perfect for growing extra-long staple cotton. Although it can still be found, this is no longer the case generally and with the advent of GM farming, long and extra-long staple cotton can be grown anywhere under the right conditions. Other regions now dominate cotton farming, the three largest being USA, China and India, India now being the largest supplier of cotton in the world. Short, long and extra-long staple cotton is grown in every region but long and extra-long mostly in Southern India. When buying bed linen, do bear in mind that it is estimated that 85% of all cotton grown is short staple.

Cotton Quality Yarn & Understanding Thread Count

Once a fine quality yarn is spun it will be woven into the cotton fabric. It is common for some weavers to twist two yarns together to provide a stronger thread, which is common with short staple cotton. This will sometimes be counted twice in a thread count, which is one reason why thread counts cannot always be relied on.

The type of weave then provides the second determinate of quality. Standard cotton weave is a moderately lose weave. Percale is a more tightly woven fabric that provides a finer, smoother feel than standard cotton. A satin weave is woven with two threads along the weave instead of one, which creates a more silky finish and feel than with a standard weave. The tighter the weave or finer the yarn then the greater the thread count will be. The true measure of a thread count is the number of threads in a 1 inch square although it is now common for manufacturers to use 10 square centimeters which inevitably provides them with a greater, although false, thread count.

Before cotton is woven it is coated in a solution to ensure the fibers are less hairy and therefore easier to weave. This process is called sizing. Various solutions have been used but the most commonly used are rice starch, which is a more traditional method or the modern practice of using PVA starch, which is very common in China. Rice starch is naturally easier to wash out of new items to give a more natural feel to the cotton product whereas PVA starch may be retained in the fibers even after several washes and will affect the quality of an ironed finish.

Quality Tailoring

 

The next step in the production of bed linen is the tailoring of duvet covers, sheets and pillowcases. The measurement of items is important to keep abreast of changing trends such as the size and style of pillows and the requirement of fitted sheets to accommodate mattress toppers etc. The methods used for tearing or cutting woven cotton is essential to the long term retention of an items shape over its lifetime and the quality and design of stitching patterns is extremely important and can affect the strength of an item as well as its appearance.

Finished Quality

Finally, the real measures of quality can be appreciated in the feel of the bed linen in use and its ability to last after years of use and laundering. Although the quality of laundering and finishing can make a difference, the quality of the fabric and the quality of tailoring will allow the bed linen to retain its shape and the fabric to retain its smooth feel after years of use. As launderers, we know that it is almost impossible to make a badly woven and constructed duvet cover or pillow case look like new even after one wash and iron.

Carbon Footprint

The majority of bed linen on sale today will have covered many miles before it has even left the manufacturing plant where it was stitched into bed linen. For instance, the cotton may be grown in China or America and bought by a weaver in Turkey before being stitched in Italy. There is no way to determine this as a consumer and that lack of traceability provides retailers with the ability to say it is manufactured in Italy or even Egypt!

Ethically sourced

The Barker Collection brand ensures that the products we source are created in safe facilities by workers who are treated well and paid fair wages to work legal hours. Together we respect the community and the environment during the production and manufacturing process of our bed linen. Working in partnership to provide high quality cottonseeds to farmers, we work together to encourage better practices in cultivating the cotton.  Ultimately our aim is to develop greater awareness of the environment within local communities whilst still helping the farmers to cultivate good quality cotton plants with better yields.

Processing

Together we fully track the cotton making process, from the cottonseeds, to the cotton farm, the ginning, the bale pressing, the spinning, the yarn dyeing, the weaving, the processing, to the fabric tailoring, resulting in beautiful bedding that we can be proud to offer our customers.

How the fabrics are made

The factory units we use are modern and have been created with the latest generation of looms and precision control equipment. Together we are fully integrated with the weaving and spinning processes and able to monitor every stage of production. The result is improved control over materials and quality of the finished fabric.

Traceable

After decades of laundering bed linen and upon entering the production process for our superior quality retail products, we carefully chose a partner who equally has decades of experience.  Together we decided on the beautiful cotton that is made in India. We quickly established a partnership with the best producer of cottonseeds in the world, NSL, and in combination with a well-established tailoring unit, we are truly able to follow our products from seed to bedding.

Sustainability

Together we are very aware of the environmental concerns, not just because it is irresponsible not to, but also it is good business practice and gives our customers peace of mind.  All our manufacturing plants have fully automated environmental treatment units that use a biological treatment of effluent.   Complete with three stages of reverse osmosis and multi stage evaporators.  But what does this mean we hear you ask? Quite simply, it ensures zero discharge and maximum delivery of water that is very precious in the region.

Conclusion

By understanding and deconstructing the process behind the creation of fine quality woven cotton and tailored bed linen we were able to determine the quality of the product we chose to bring to the market. All our bed linen fulfils the standards we set but by becoming involved with the cotton growers, spinners and weavers and undertaking our own tailoring in the same region then laundering to a high standard, ready for use before delivery to the customer we have been able to create a high quality, fully traceable, controlled and vertically aligned manufacturing process that we believe does not exist anywhere else in the world.

So why choose Barker Bed Linen?

All Barker cotton is made from fully traceable long or extra-long staple cotton spun into single threads. Our thread count is measured in a 1 inch square, the traditional and correct way to measure the thread count. We use rice starch to coat our fibers prior to weaving meaning that there is no manufacturing residue when the item is laundered and delivered to the customer. Our bed linen is hand-made by our tailors using traditional methods to create items that retain their shape for years during use.
By choosing to have your items laundered before they arrive you are able to use the items straight away. Your newly washed and ironed bedding will be beautifully presented, in our signature gift box and delivered to your door, bed ready.

The benefits in a nutshell:

Guaranteed Quality

Best performing Product

Ethically Sourced with full traceability

Lowest Carbon Footprint

Highest valued bed Linen