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Bouclé vs Sherpa: What's The Difference?

Castlery   |   Dec 5, 2023

When it comes to choosing furniture upholstery, the choice of fabric is paramount. It not only affects the aesthetic appeal but also influences the tactile experience.

Two popular choices when it comes to cosy and fuzzy textures are bouclé and Sherpa. But, what’s the difference between the two? Which is better?

In this article, we discuss the differences between bouclé and Sherpa to help you make a more informed decision.

What is bouclé?

Bouclé, derived from the French word for "curled," is a fabric characterised by its looped or curled yarns. This distinctive texture creates a surface that is both plush and visually captivating.

A close-up shot of bouclé fabric. Bouclé fabric has loops that create a 3D effect.

Typically composed of a mix of fibres such as wool, cotton, or synthetic materials, bouclé boasts a unique ability to add depth and dimension to furniture. Its characteristic loops create a luxurious and inviting appearance, making it a favourite for those seeking a touch of sophistication in their living spaces.

What is Sherpa?

Named after the Sherpa people of the Himalayas, known for their warmth in extreme climates, Sherpa fabric is designed to emulate the softness and insulation of traditional Sherpa wool.

A close-up shot of brown Sherpa fabric. Sherpa fabric has a soft and fuzzy feel, mimicking the fleece of sheep.

Typically crafted from synthetic materials like polyester, Sherpa is renowned for its warmth and snug feel. Used predominantly in blankets and outerwear, Sherpa has found its way into the world of furniture, offering a cocoon-like embrace for those seeking ultimate comfort in their living space.

Bouclé vs Sherpa: The main differences

Material composition

Bouclé is typically made from a variety of materials such as wool, cotton, or synthetic fibres. Depending on the material used, this can affect the strength, appearance, and texture of the bouclé fabric. For example, using wool adds a touch of luxury while using synthetic fibres greatly increases the durability and maintenance.

Sherpa fabric is predominantly crafted from synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic. It is designed to mimic the softness and warmth of traditional Sherpa wool - providing you with comfort, style, and aesthetics without the high costs.

A Sherpa armchair placed at the corner of a bedroom beside a small table. @helenowen creates a cosy nook in the bedroom with the Ingrid Sherpa Chair.

Texture

The defining characteristic of bouclé is its textured surface, achieved through the looping of yarns. The irregularity of the loops creates a sense of depth and movement across the fabric. This creates a plush and three-dimensional look, adding a touch of sophistication to furniture.

A close-up shot of a bouclé swivel armchair. The distinct looped fibres of the Amber Bouclé Swivel Chair in Snow create a textured surface. Picture credits: @palmspringshillside

On the other hand, Sherpa is renowned for its fuzzy texture, contributing to its comfort appeal. Compared to bouclé, Sherpa’s texture is more uniform and aimed at achieving a natural, fleece-like feel.

Versatility and style

Known for its versatility, bouclé can seamlessly blend into a wide range of design styles, from modern to contemporary interiors. Its textured appearance adds a timeless elegance to furniture, making it a favourite in various interior aesthetics.

Sherpa fabric exudes a more casual and relaxed appeal. Its soft and fuzzy texture creates an inviting atmosphere, making it particularly well-suited for spaces where comfort and a laid-back ambiance are desired - think lounges or reading nooks.

A person sitting on a chair upholstered in Sherpa fabric. @sarahwisted lounging on the Ingrid Sherpa Chair.

Durability

Bouclé tends to be more resilient to wear and tear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas and busy households. The looped construction creates a structured surface that can withstand use over time, maintaining the fabric's visual appeal and texture.

A curved performance bouclé sofa in a living room with a wooden coffee table. The Marlow Performance Bouclé Curve Sofa. Picture credits: @mintchaico

Sherpa's primary focus is on providing a soft and plush texture for comfort. While this contributes to its appeal, it may also mean that Sherpa is more susceptible to wear and pilling over time, especially in areas of frequent contact.

Care and maintenance

Due to its plush nature, Sherpa may require more careful handling to prevent matting and maintain its appearance. On the other hand, bouclé's looped construction often lends itself to easier cleaning.

But, regular cleaning and proper maintenance of both Sherpa and bouclé fabrics are essential to preserve their longevity and appearance.

Bouclé vs Sherpa: Which to choose?

Now that you have a better understanding between the two, which is a better material to choose for your home?

Ultimately, it comes down to your own personal preferences!

If you prefer a sophisticated and textured look, bouclé is an excellent choice. Bouclé is also more suitable for high-traffic areas or busy households as the looped yarns make it more durable and enhances the longevity of the furniture.

For a more casual and cuddly feel, Sherpa is the go-to material. It’s the ideal choice if you’re looking to create a cosy corner where comfort and relaxation paramount.

Whether you opt for the artful loops of bouclé or the snug softness of Sherpa, both fabrics promise to elevate your furniture to new heights of comfort and style.

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