A funny thing happened after the cotton crisis. When cotton prices became so unstable that quotes on programs were changing by the hour, polyester sheets made a comeback. And even through cotton prices have stabilized, polyester sheets remain with us.
Now, it's worth noting that although the cost of raw cotton has settled down, the price of cotton yarn has been steadily escalating over the past several months. So from a manufacturing and purchasing perspective microfiber (i.e., polyester) still represents a relative value.
But here's the other thing: if shoppers had rejected microfiber sheets that would have been the end of the story.
They didn't. As one supplier noted: "We all [in the industry] turned up our noses at it. But the consumer told us different."
In many parts of the mass market, microfiber sheets have become the new opening price point offering. Online they're often marketed as a "luxury" item - even if the price points are anything but. For the most over-the-top examples, search "microfiber sheets" on Amazon, where one can find "1200 count Egyptian Weave" microfiber ($20 for a queen set) as well as "Silky Soft Luxurious Supreme Microfiber" ($26) and "Microfiber Spa Quality" (a whopping $49.97).
Over at Walmart.com, type "microfiber" into the search bar and three options immediately pop up: microfiber bedding, microfiber sheet sets and microfiber no sew throws. For the same search at Kmart.com, the top three suggestions that pop up are microfiber towels, microfiber table clothes and microfiber blankets.
Target.com, on the other hand, offers only two microfiber sheets, while Bed Bath & Beyond mostly confines the construction to infant and juvenile bedding (the exception being lace-trimmed solid color sheets).
Outside of bedding, microfiber has been part of consumers' lives for some time now - in outerwear, handbags, and blankets. So maybe the question should be why it took the cotton crisis to move the construction into sheets.
Maybe, at the end of the day, it was all just a case of dumb luck.