French Terry and Fleece: A Guide

If you are struggling to choose a quality wholesale streetwear blanks supplier and don’t know which textile is the best look no further. This article delves into the differences between french terry and fleece, answering a few other questions along the way. For example - why are there so many different types of fleece and which ones are organic and which are synthetic. We’ll also look at the processes involved in making these materials and how some are very similar.

As you might have noticed, some textiles go in and out of fashion while others remain in constant use. Leather biker jackets were everywhere in the 1980’s and the early 2000’s saw the velour tracksuit become a ubiquitous style statement. At the same time, the lightweight cotton used in men’s shirts has remained constant and the lycra used in women’s sportswear never went away. Some materials have an enduring appeal and others have a sense of fashionable novelty. When it comes to premium leisurewear, french terry has assumed (and held) the throne since the 80’s. 

Like most materials, french terry is part of a wider family and could be described as a close cousin of another material called fleece. But there are three distinct types of fleece: synthetic, cotton and sherpa. Here, we’ll take a moment to introduce all three and explain the key differences between these materials.

First, synthetic fleece has made a strong return to high street fashion in 2021. Typically reserved for the interior of heavyweight jackets, the latest fashions have seen this fleece frequently on display as outerwear. However, this performance material can also have a deep pile and the appearance of sheep’s wool. When synthetic fleece looks this way, it is often referred to as ‘polar fleece’ or ‘Sherpa’.

But many people aren’t keen on the environmental impact of synthetic fibers, which shed microplastics at every wash, or simply don’t like the feel. For more elevated styles, there’s cotton fleece which is similar, but slightly different and altogether superior. First, cotton fleece has a longer history dating back to the 1800s when textile mills were innovating to create new textiles with new benefits. This innovation created a material that could help trap heat against the body and keep the wearer warm without the need for excessive layers. However, unlike synthetic fleece, cotton fleece is more breathable in the summer months.

The cotton version of fleece is the one that is a close relative of french terry. To turn french terry into fleece doesn’t require different fibers or a different weave, it is simply the addition of one step in the manufacturing process. Cotton fleece is made by taking the looped side of french terry and mechanically brushing it to encourage more volume and softness on that side of the fabric. This additional volume makes cotton fleece (brushed french terry) more insulating than (unbrushed) french terry, giving it a heavier hand-feel.

French terry that hasn’t been brushed has increased breathability and will let air circulate.  On its own, it’s more suited to spring and summer evening temperatures. It’s the versatility of french terry that has made it so popular for sports and athletic wear. Breathable enough to be worn while exercising but also insulating enough to keep the wearer comfortable.

Understanding that the brushing process effectively increases the depth of the fabric to enhance its insulation abilities helps you better understand how the same textile can be adapted to serve different needs. A pair of West Coast Blends french terry sweatpants are perfect all year round and provide just the perfect balance of breathability and insulation. As a company, West Coast Blend’s specializes in premium and french terry cotton hoodies and leisurewear. 

Shop with confidence and knowing that you are getting the best premium wholesale blanks from a manufacturer that respects heightened craftsmanship and deliberately uses superior quality materials.