SHERPA • FLEECE • SHEARLING • PILE
Talking about the popular winter trend, what the difference is between the materials and sharing a few of my favorite jackets, sweaters and pullovers in all different price ranges.
Have you noticed that every brand and store seems to call this fabric something different?! It’s a guessing game on each website what to type into the search bar! I started wondering, what is the difference between sherpa, shearling, fleece and pile? Is one better than the other or are they essentially interchangeable? I did a little research and here is a quick rundown on each term, but first I’ll share some of my favorites this season with you.
Now onto the definitions…
Pile is basically the word for the raised, upright loop surface of a fabric. Pile textiles can vary greatly and include velvet, plush, sherpa, corduroy, carpet, etc. It can be used to describe/compare these textiles (i.e. the pile is longer on textile x vs textile y).
Shearling is the fabric that is made from a sheep that has only been shorn once (typically a yearling sheep). The wool must still be intact when it is processed, dyed, etc. or it is not true shearling.
Most of the companies I’ve found recently that are using this term are actually faux shearling, which is essentially sherpa. True shearling would be much more expensive.
Sherpa is made from a synthetic material (usually polyester, sometimes acrylic or cotton) and is sometimes referred to as faux-sheepskin or faux shearling.
Polar fleece is a type of polyester fabric, which is what we are used to seeing. Not really different than sherpa or faux shearling in the makeup or what defines it. Typically I find shearling and sherpa to have a longer pile than fleece.