Underwear & Activewear for Men   

All About Men's Underwear

Tomima Says
Proper Men's Underwear Fitting

"In an effort to make you a more informed shopper, we compiled a list of terms. If you can't find a term, please let us know and we will be happy to add it to our list."

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Fabrics & Fibers Glossary

Also see our:
Men's Underwear Features Glossary,
Men's Underwear & Sock Glossary,
Men's Underwear Style Glossary (Bottoms),
Men's Underwear Style Glossary (Tops)

Combed Cotton

Cotton in which a combing process removes the short fibers and any debris left from the plant. This results in a cleaner, more uniform and lustrous yarn.


A polyester fiber designed to move moisture away from the body and out onto the surface of the garment for quick absorption, leaving the wearer feeling cooler and dryer. Coolmax is fast drying, resists fading, and doesn't wrinkle or shrink. Because of the movement of moisture, wearing Coolmax indoors without airflow to properly evaporate can cause puddling. Coolmax works best outdoors where there is enough airflow to evaporate body moisture.

Cotton Lisle

A hard-spun two ply cotton yarn made from long staple fibers and treated to remove all short fuzzy ends for a smooth finish. Lisle is a popular choice for fine men's knitwear, including tops and socks.

Ecosil Polyester

Ecosil polyester fibers are spun very compactly giving the fabric a clean appearance, and a resistance to pilling and abrasion.

Egyptian Cotton

All cotton grown in Egypt is "Egyptian" but it is not all extra-long staple (ELS) cotton - the most desirable and softest. The description "Egyptian cotton" conjures up the image of the very finest and longest cottons in the world. Egypt does produce and sell some of the best ELS cotton in the world, but it amounts to less than 15% of annual global ELS cotton exports, and is approximately 40% of Egyptian cotton exports.


Elastane is another name for spandex.

Italian Nylon

Manufactured in Italy, this is a high quality knit fabric with 4-way stretch that comes from Italy. Italian nylon includes some Lycra to give great stretch and recovery; good strength and abrasion resistance; and some anti-microbial properties.


Latex is made with rubber and thus, has rubber-like qualities. Used in some elastics to provide greater elasticity. Breaks down easily when exposed to sun and body moisture. For those with latex allergies, spandex is a good alternative.

Mercerized Cotton

Cotton in which a wet finishing process that swells the yarns of the fabric, giving it a round smooth surface. This process results in a stronger and more lustrous yarn that is more easily dyed, producing brighter, deeper colors.

Merino Wool

Merino wool does not strictly apply to wool only from Merino sheep. The term now applies to the softest, finest wool - known for breathability and being almost itch-free. The result is a fabric that is thin, soft and luxurious.


Fabric made with microfiber means that the fabric's filaments are extremely fine - much finer than silk. Microfiber fabrics are light-weight, and look and feel luxurious. Because microfiber filaments can be packed so closely, they can prevent moisture from passing though, yet allow air flow.


Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic fiber to be made entirely from ingredients: coal, water and air. Nylon is strong, elastic, resistant to abrasion and chemicals, and has low moisture absorbency.


A swirled pattern characterized by a teardrop shape. Popularized in Paisley, Scotland, during the 1800s, this design was originally an adaptation of a spade pattern found on Indian shawls. Today, paisley decorates everything from sheetings to fine dresses.

Peruvian Pima Cotton

Pima cotton that is grown in Peru under excellent growing conditions. This cotton is harvested by hand which reduces the scratchy impurities and guarantees a more brilliant white shade that can be easily dyed.

Pima Cotton

Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other locations around the world Pima was previously called American-Egyptian cotton, but was renamed to honor the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared to gossypium hirsutum to which upland cotton belongs. The primary differences between Pima (ELS grown) cotton and upland cotton are staple length and strength of the fiber. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or Pima if it is an inch and 3/8 or longer. Its strength and uniformity measurements are considerably higher than those of upland cotton. It has a silk-like hand and a very fine weave.


A fabric in which bands of color running horizontally and vertically intersect to form squares. Plaids date back to the 1500s, and now come in many patterns from argyle and gingham to madras and windowpane.

Rib Knit

A knitted fabric with alternating raised and lowered rows. More elastic and durable than plain knits, it tends to fit close to the body and is used frequently in T-shirts as well as for the trims of socks, sleeves, waists and necklines.

Ringspun Cotton

The cotton fibers are tightly twisted together to make a stronger, smoother and finer thread. Ringspun cotton fabric is softer and finer feeling than basic cotton fabric.


A process of preshrinking fabric - patented by Cluett, Peabody and Co., Inc. Sanforized fabrics will shrink just 1% or less.


A weave construction that has more yarn surface on the face of the cloth than other basic weaves, giving a softer hand and more lustrous look. Also, cloth made with carded or combed yarns that are usually mercerized, and has a very smooth, lustrous surface effect that resembles satin.


A synthetic fiber made from polyurethane. It is lightweight, highly elastic, strong, durable and non-absorbent to water and oils. A great alternative for people allergic to latex.

Supima Cotton

The name "Supima" is a licensed trademark owned by Supima and its members. It is used to promote textile and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton, but is strictly controlled by the grower organization. The name "Supima" is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.