Cashmere is a fiber harvested from the underhair of cashmere goats. It’s fine, soft and warm (usually three times warmer than sheep wool – with all others things being equal). However, the quality of cashmere varies greatly, that’s why you can find very nice and very durable cashmere garments as well as inferior ones which don’t last long and are prone to pilling.
William Lockie cashmere scarf.
2-ply cashmere sweater by Johnstons of Elgin.
There are several quality hallmarks:
- Country of origin – the best raw cashmere usually comes from Mongolia and China. High quality cashmere garments are usually made in Scotland, Italy and (sometimes) Germany and Wales. Italian cashmere garments are often too thin and delicate.
- The fiber length should be at least 34 mm., if we are talking about high quality cashmere. Sometimes it can reach 50 mm.
- The fiber diameter should be 14-16,5 micron. (Anyway, if the fiber diameter is more than 19 micron, it’s not cashmere).
- 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, 6-ply cashmere garments will last longer than 1-ply ones (with all other things being equal), but they’re also thicker and sometimes bulkier.
- Underhair colours: light coloured fibers are more expensive, because they can be dyed into a wider range of colours.
- Guard hair: when cashmere is processed in the best way, 99.5% of guard hair is removed (or even more), so the final garment will be very soft and nice to touch. Inexpensive cashmere can feature 5% of guard hair.
- Teasel treatment: some cashmere garments are treated with teasel heads to obtain the softest finish. Only a few producers still use these technique (for example, Begg & Co., Fort Belvedere, Fraas, Joshua Ellis).
Merola gloves with cashmere lining by Cariaggi.
- Hand (!) wash in lukewarm water (30-35ºC), don’t rub garments too much
- Use special cashmere shampoo or liquid soap, then rinse the garment in clean water
- Gently press / squeeze by hand, don’t wring, don’t twist
- Dry flat (ideally on a towel or something like that) – away from radiators and sunlight
- Don not tumble dry
- If needed, iron on a low temperature with the use of a cotton cloth