How Your Cashmere is Made
Cashmere. Most people think of it as a fancy wool, but it’s actually a hair. It is gathered from the underbellies and necks of goats in the Gobi Desert — an expansive terrain that extends from Northern China into Mongolia. This super soft and fine fibre can be found under the goat’s superficial coat.
In the early summer, the goats molt, and this is when the hair is combed, hand sorted and shipped off to a facility that cleans and refines the fibre.
At this point, it is sent off to be spun into a fine yarn. This usually happens in Europe. After this process is complete, it’s then sold to manufacturers and designers for about $114 per pound — for pure cashmere, that is.
There’s been some trepidation among global buyers when it comes to buying cashmere from China, since this manufacturer has taken to blending the high-quality cashmere with inferior products to increase volume. For this reason, Afghan goat farmers are enjoying an enthusiastic boom in their revenue, thanks to their uncompromised purity of their product.
How to Select Quality Cashmere
1) Check for Pilling
The best cashmere is made from longer hairs of goats and is combed. It won’t ever be sheared. When the hairs are sheared, they create short fibres that are more likely to pill. So, check for pilling prior to purchase. Simply take the palm of your hand and rub it on the garment. If fibres roll up or shed off, it’s not premium quality.
2) Density of Weave
Next, beware the flimsy weave. Tightly woven cashmere is what you’re after, since it won’t lose its shape. To check for a good weave, take your cashmere and hold it to the light. If you can see through it, it isn’t made to last. Keep shopping.
3) True Colors
While there’s nothing wrong with lightly dyed cashmere, severely dyed fibres won’t be as soft. Natural whites and browns tend to be the best at retaining their luxurious feel.
4) All or Nothing
If the label doesn’t say 100% cashmere, it’s not pure cashmere. This seems obvious, but in the enthusiasm to buy this luxurious material, we often overlook the most apparent indicators of quality.
A final note: quality cashmere is almost always going to be more expensive. If you’re looking at a beautiful cashmere throw or sweater with a price that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Move along, and seek out premium products. If you’re going to buy cashmere, you should only buy the best.