Silk Buyer's Guide: Understanding Quality in Silks
Silk has long been one of the most luxurious fabrics available, and is known both for its beauty and its amazing benefits to your health and beauty. Thanks to innovative new production methods by MYK Silk, silk products now more affordable than ever. But what separates quality silk? Are all silks the same? What makes some silks better than others? This buyer’s guide will teach you the difference between silks, help you avoid common pitfalls, and ensure make the most informed silk purchasing experience possible. So let’s get started.
Silk? Or Silky Satin?
The first thing many silk buyers will notice when shopping for silk is that “silky satin” products are cheaper than pure silk. You may be tempted to stop shopping there and grab a full length silky kimono at a bargain basement price. Unfortunately, you’ll quickly find you get what you paid for. Satin refers to a type of weave, and most “silky” satin products on the market are synthetic fabrics made from petroleum-based polyesters. They may look a little like silk, but the similarities end there.
Cheap polyester feels like plastic (which makes sense as it is plastic) will look overly shiny, and slips around at night much more than silk. Polyester satins provide almost none of the health benefits of silk. They are not hypoallergenic. They do not regulate temperature, which will cause night sweats that can irritate skin. And while the natural sericin proteins in silk promote skin rejuvenation, leading to silk being recommended by dermatologists everywhere as the fabric for skin health, satin’s only skin benefit is that it’s a little better than cheap cotton. With genuine silk prices being so low now, there’s no real reason to settle with polyester satin anymore.
All of our silk products are made from 100% Mulberry silk. While mulberry may sound like the latest health tea craze, it is actually referring to the silkworm’s diet. When people picture silk, the same silk whose production defined the ancient world, they are thinking of Bombyx mori, the domesticated silkworm. While many insects can produce silk, the silkworm is the only one who produces silk in strong enough and long enough single strands that their production is commercially viable. The domestic silkworm exclusively eats leaves from the White Mulberry tree, and so we call Bombyx mori produced silk mulberry. In fact, when silk production was first smuggled out of China, Mulberry seeds were smuggled out too as a key industry secret.
The other main type of silk on the market is called Wild Silk. Mostly produced in India, this silk is cultivated by combing through forests for wild breeds of silkworms to harvest their leftover cocoons after the moths have left them. While silk is still always a luxurious fabric, this harvesting process means that Wild Silk is both harder to produce and lower quality, as the strands are broken, the weaves are often inconsistent, and the silk is difficult to dye. Mulberry silkworm silk is harvested in one continuous strand in a controlled environment, which produced better quality and more consistently woven silk.
What’s a Momme?
Finally, we get to momme. Momme weight is a measurement of thickness used to determine quality, similarly to how cotton uses thread count. Silk is such a considerably fine fabric that using thread count would be a tad inaccurate, and so momme instead refers to how heavy the silk is in pounds per 100 yards x 45 inches cut. So therefore, 100 yards of 22momme silk weighs 22lbs, 100 yards of 30 momme weights 30lbs, and so on.
The higher the momme weight, the thicker the fabric, and the better quality the silk. 19 momme silk is perfect for first time silk buyers. It is also the industry standard for sleepwear, as it is light enough to wear comfortably and still durable enough to last, but for other silk products the momme count can be pushed upwards for better and better silk. MYK Silk is one of the few brands that offers 30 momme silk pillowcases, and so those pillowcases are some of the longest lasting and most durable available.
Here at MYK Silk, we offer silk for everyone, every day. After reading this guide and learning about silk types and momme weights, we hope you can find the perfect silk for you.