What exactly is cashmere and why is it so expensive? What are the benefits and why is some way more expensive than others? Lets break it down:
Cashmere comes from the country Kasmir (Northwest India), directly coming from the Cashmere goat (and some other related species). This goat has a double layered coat; the bottom coat is soft and insulating while the top coat is coarse and water repellent. From this, you can gather that the soft coat is where the cashmere wool comes.
Extracting the cashmere wool isn't an easy process, it is labor intensive no matter which method is used. However, it can take up to four years for a goat to have a mature enough coat to be extracted from (which may only be enough to make a single sweater). The cashmere under the neck and chest is the softest, usually this is where the higher price tag comes around.
There are clear benefits that you get from cashmere that you won't get from regular sheep wool. That scratchy feeling when you put on a wool sweater, well...just doesn't happen when dealing with the fine fibers of cashmere. Cashmere can also have up to eight times better insulation properties than regular wool, it traps more air particles within the soft fibers creating more warmth. Caring for cashmere is also much easier, unlike regular sheep wool it doesn't shrink.
Easy Ways To Spot Quality Cashmere
- Look for more than a single ply
- Rub it on your face, if there is any scratchy or discomfort it probably isn't high quality
- Try to wrinkle it, nice cashmere bounces back quickly
- Opt for 100% cashmere or a cashmere/merino blend. Stay away from man made fibers like acrylic- this negates all the positives cashmere provides.