Cashmere is incredibly soft, thin, and versatile. It is considered to be a luxury material, and taken care of can be a heritage piece you pass down from generation to generation. Cashmere pieces that are transcendental can be worn season after season, year after year, and continue to be a style staple that elevates your wardrobe for the rest of your life.
What Is Cashmere?
Cashmere is actually a type of wool – except, unlike traditional wool, cashmere is the fine, soft fiber combed from the undercoats of a certain kind of goats, Kashmir goats. Cashmere gets its name from an old spelling of Kashmir, the region where its production and trade originated. These goats are found across the Himalayas where temperatures can drop to -30°C and their freezing cold habitat means that they grow an incredibly thick, warm coat. Cashmere goats have two layers of hair – a super-soft cashmere undercoat, and it’s protected by the goat’s outer layer, AKA the wool, as the topcoat.
5 Cashmere Goats = 1 Sweater
The process of combing and collecting the under layer is pretty labor-intensive, as the undercoat has to be separated from the outer layer by hand. Thankfully, we’ve got some excellent shepherds who are up to the task. Each goat typically produces just 150 g of fibers, and it takes approximately 4-5 adult-sized goats to make one 100% cashmere sweater. Part of what makes cashmere so exclusive is how elusive acquiring the fiber can be... it is only harvested from goats once a year!
The Best Cashmere Comes From?
Kashmir goats are originally found across the Himalayas where temperatures can drop to -30°C and these harsh climates has allowed the goats to grow the longest and finest fibers that shepherds then collect every spring when these warmer coats begin to shed. Therefore, the best cashmere goats typically live in places like Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Nepal, Ladakh, Baltistan, etc, places that are known for their cold and harsh climates.
Is All Cashmere The Same?
There are different grades of cashmere that directly reflect upon its quality. These grades can be broken down into three: A, B and C.
"The thinner the cashmere, the finer the construction and the higher quality the final product."
Grade A cashmere is the highest quality of cashmere. It is what luxury brands and we here at State Cashmere use for our products. Grade A cashmere is as low as 14 microns width, which is about 6 times finer than human hair.
Slightly less soft than Grade A, Grade B cashmere is intermediate. It is around 18-19 microns width.
Grade C is the lowest quality which is twice as thick as grade A. It is around 30 microns width.
What Makes Cashmere So Great?
Cashmere products can easily last 10 years and over 200 wears when taken care of properly. It is not uncommon to hear of people wearing cashmere sweaters from their grandparents.
Because the diameter of cashmere fibers is very small, it creates a very fine texture. This fine texture, along with the longer fibers, contributes to maximum softness.
Cashmere has an insulation capacity 3x higher than wool helping to regulate your body temperature while keeping you warm instead of hot. Cashmere is hygroscopic, meaning it is naturally breathable. It can keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s not.
Shape Resilience+Wrinkle Free
Quality cashmere does not shrink when washed correctly, and will retain shape better than wool over the years. Also, cashmere clothing does not wrinkle, allowing it to be placed in a suitcase and worn on the go.