GSM: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

You may have seen the term "GSM" when shopping for your towels. If you're not industry-savvy, this number can seem good, bad, or simply just confusing. Once you know exactly what it is and what it means, you will be able to make informed decisions on which towels are right for you! 


GSM is the grams per square meter of fabric. When it comes to towels, this often relates to the thickness or plushness of the towel. When deciding what sheets to buy or what towels will feel the best, this can be a really important characteristic to consider. Keep in mind the properties of the raw materials, as well. For example, you could have a good GSM, but the fabric could be made with low-quality raw materials, which leads to a less reliable product.

The Other Factors

There are other factors that can affect your high GSM towel. When picking out the perfect towel, you'll want to take a look at the raw materials, as well as, any special finishes or processes added to production of that towel. For example, "anti-microbial" is a buzzword in the textile industry due to COVID and other health concerns. However, the chemical treatments used to give textiles the anti-microbial properties are considered pesticides in the US. So, the water than runs off from creating and washing these anti-microbial products is actual toxic for the environment.

Towels made from cotton, bamboo, lyocell / Tencel, and blends of these materials are among the stronger and more desirable fabrics. For a high-quality cotton towel (or sheet) be sure to look for medium to long staple lengths. The staple length refers to the length of the fiber that is processed into the yarn. Shorter staple lengths cause pilling.

Essell uses long-staple combed cotton in their Lotus Loop towels, as well as, their 100% Cotton bed sheets to give you a strong, durable towel while staying soft and absorbent. 

Picking the Right GSM

A higher GSM in towels is generally a good thing. Higher GSMs lead to a thicker and more absorbent towel. Sites will tell you that those higher GSMs (600-900) are "heavy weight" which is technically true in comparison to other weights. However, this term is slightly misleading. A towel in the 600-900 GSM range won't feel heavy to the average person. Towels in that range are a little more substantial in their look and feel. While lower GSMs are often found in clothing or lighter textiles. Most T-Shirts and Sweatshirts can be found in the 100-200 GSM range. So, when you're shopping for a towel, you'll want to stay away from low GSMs.

For reference, think of it this way:

  • 100-299 GSM: Standard Clothing
  • 300-399 GSM: Thin Towels
  • 400-599 GSM: "Medium-Weight" feel, think "Beach Towel"
  • 600-900 GSM: Thick, Luxurious, and usually Higher Priced, think "Luxury Towels and Bath Mats"

Essell's Dedication to Quality

Our towels sit right around 700 GSM. We prefer towels between 600-800 GSM because they feel substantial while still looking luxurious, feeling soft, and lasting throughout several washes. As we develop new products (hint, hint) we aim to keep our towels in that luxury range. This doesn't mean Beach Towels are out of the question for Essell. However, we will always consider every part of the quality (i.e. the raw materials, the weaving and finishing processes, and the GSM).