“Pilling is going to happen with any woven garment but there is a direct link to the length of the yarn thread used,” Thomas Ott, senior vice president for men’s apparel at Saks Fifth Avenue, says. “The longer the thread, the longer it takes to pill.”
Today’s extremely price-competitive climate is pushing many manufacturers toward shorter, less expensive fibers, Mr. Spilhaus says.
The finish of a garment also affects the likelihood of pilling. A cashmere sweater used to require several home washings before it “bloomed”—the industry term for the soft, full feeling of a broken-in sweater.
Retailers and shoppers are looking for sweaters with a “hand feel” of extreme, immediate softness. Mr. Spilhaus says manufacturers wash garments repeatedly to get the exterior that soft. The washing, along with shorter fibers, brings the ends to the surface more quickly, making pills more likely to happen sooner.
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