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Low vs. High Denier Fabric

Written By: Anne G Hendricks

Definition of Denier

A denier is the measure of a thickness of thread. Originally, a denier was the mass in grams per 9000 meters silk thread.  9000 meters of silk thread weighs one gram, and is the original standard for a denier

Practically, this translates into the denier being a measurement of the thickness of thread. The higher the denier, the thicker the thread used to make an item. The lower the denier the lower the denier, the thinner the thread used to make cloth

Low Denier vs. High Denier

Denier is the measure of the thickness of thread manufacturers use to make cloth.  One might use nylon to make cloth for two very different purposes. This can be accomplished by changing the denier. 

For example, low denier nylon would produce softer, silkier items, appropriate for a windbreaker jacket, while high denier nylon can be used to produce ballistic nylon, used to protect the military from flak received in battle.  Denier dictates what the manufacturer can use cloth for. While both fabrics are made out of the same material, denier affects fabric texture, durability, and weight.

Denier and Fabric Texture

If a manufacturer wishes to make a product with a smoother, silkier texture, he chooses to use a lower denier of the material. If he wants to make a product with a rougher texture, then he will choose a fabric with a higher denier. A t-shirt and a back-pack may both be made out of cotton, but the cotton in the t-shirt will have a lower denier, making it more comfortable for wearing against a person’s skin. 

There are other things that affect the texture of a garment, such at what other fabrics the main fabric is mixed with, and the weave of the fabric. The first thing a manufacturer must consider, however, is the denier.

Denier and Durability

In general, a fabric is more durable the higher its denier. Both panty hose and the original bullet proof vest are made out of nylon. Panty hose are between 6 and 30 deniers, and the nylon in bullet proof vests, made out of ballistic nylon, is 1050 deniers.  Both are made out of the same material, but
the weight of the thread makes a huge difference in the ability of the fabric
to withstand wear.

Gauge and manufacturing techniques can also affect durability. Manufacturers first have to start with a high denier, however, to ensure the most durable fabric.

Denier and Fabric Weight

A fabric with a higher denier is, by definition, heavier than a fabric with a lower denier. Consumers may demand the lightest weight material for a backpack, but if that material is made out of a fabric with too
low of a denier, the backpack won’t be strong enough to withstand normal wear and tear.  

Alternately, using the highest denier of a fabric available may add durability, but would be too heavy for most practical uses. Manufacturers must strike a delicate balance in choosing the denier of the fabric they use to construct items. They must take into account the overall durability needed and balance that with the added weight of a higher denier.

Importance of Denier Overall

Although there are other factors that come into play, denier is the first thing a manufacturer should consider when choosing a fabric.  When choosing, the manufacturer should keep in mind the final use for the product, and what he or she would like to achieve with the product. That should help determine the denier of fabric that should be used.