The pile of a fabric refers to the raised loops that make up the weave. This is done on purpose as part of the structure of the material. Think of your fluffiest towel, or even your carpet. You may not necessarily see actual loops on these materials, but the fact that they have vertical fibers on the surface is a sign that the product was woven in a pile weave.
The most distinctive fabric with a pile weave is terry cloth. If you take a second to look more closely at the material, you can see the loop pile construction. The length of the loops is an indicator of the towel’s absorbency — so when you’re buying bath linens, you’ll want to look for something with a higher pile.
For the fabrics that don’t have actual loops, you can still determine the length of the pile by the height of the yarn strands that stick up out of the base fabric. There are many bath linens that may not have loops, but if they are made of Egyptian Cotton and still have a high pile, they will still be very absorbent.
Even rugs, which are typically not made of terry unless they’re for the bathroom, will have a pile. The pile depth can range from flat to shag. This length will help determine how soft the rug initially feels, as well as its appearance. Designers can even make patterns in rugs by using different pile depths across the surface.
With a little more understanding of industry terms, it’s easier to know what you’re looking for to make your home more comfortable.