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Hand loomed vs Hand loomed: What are you really buying?

Posted on 21 April 2015

The market is now flooded with Turkish towels - the thin kind. No wonder, as they're incredibly practical and stylish. The vast majority of stores selling them say they are hand loomed or made using 'tradtional techniques'. The price for these towels can range vastly, from $30 to $100. So how can these towels be the same with such a range in pricing? Are you being ripped off?  Yes and No. Yes, because MOST of these towels are NOT hand loomed, even if they claim to be. And No, because the more expensive ones are generally worth it, as they are the real deal.

Cotton threads resting on a wooden shuttle loom

Like anything in this world, you get what you pay for - clothes, furniture, household appliances; pay more and you usually get a better product. I've experienced first hand the claim that all Turkish towels are hand loomed.  In Turkey EVERY towel vendor tells you this, then sells a towel for 10 Turkish Lira.  Yeah right! Unfortunately these vendors sell this story to overseas stores who purchase the towels to on-sell, and the myth continues. 

There are about three types of Turkish towels in the market in regards to how they're made:

  1. Factory made in large factories: Some of these are even made in China, so not even a hint of Turkey! These are often filled with polyester threads - not what you want in a towel!
  2. Factory made using small factory machines: This is where you can be fooled as these towels are made in traditional weaving villages such as Denizli. However, they have thrown out all of their traditional looms and replaced them with larger factory machines.
  3. Genuinely hand loomed on small wooden shuttle looms:  One towel is made at a time on these looms which are usually situated in a family home. Yep this is how our towels are made!

A very old wooden shuttle loom                                                                       

Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful towels in the market made on small factory machines.  However, they are still not a patch on those made on wooden shuttle looms due to the difference in weaving speeds. Old wooden shuttle looms are much kinder to threads due to very slow weaving speeds. This results in stronger threads; towels will last a lot longer and be more absorbent. You are also buying something that has contributed to preserving the livelihood of traditonal weavers in Turkey.

Our towels are the only towels in New Zealand made on wooden shuttle looms. You won't find a picture of a sail boat on any of our towels! I'm not sure if it's possible on wooden shuttle looms. If it was, it would take an incredibly long time, resulting in a very very expensive towel!

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