What Makes Cashmere So Special and Expensive?

Cashmere is a fine, luxurious fabric obtained from the hair of a specific breed of goat found in the Gobi Desert and Central Asia. Cashmere has been cherished as a material for sweaters, scarves, and other lightweight cold-weather apparel for a very long time since it is often regarded as one of the softest and most elegant sorts of fabric similar to wool available.

The global market for luxury cashmere clothing is estimated to increase at a CAGR of 3.86 to 3.93% between 2018 and 2025, reaching US $4.2 billion.

Cashmere Fabric Overview

Cashmere Fabric

Cashmere’s threads are so tiny and soft that they are sometimes compared to silk and wool. Cashmere is very similar to mohair, which comes from angora goats, and is much warmer and lighter than sheep’s wool.

Since cashmere fibers are so small and light, combining them with heavier wool types like merino wool is common to increase their overall weight.

Cashmere is often blended with other materials, including silk, cotton, wool, and even exotic wools like vicuna, mink, and chinchilla. In addition to shawls, and scarves, outfits like suits, coats, and outerwear jackets for both men and women are all made from these fabric blends. 

Cashmere isn’t as warm as wool but is fine and soft enough to be worn close to the skin, making it a suitable choice for intimate clothing. This quality allows cashmere to be woven into extremely thick yet supple fabric.

Cashmere is completely non-toxic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly because it is made from natural fiber. And many fabric cottage enterprises that create and sell the fiber also benefit from this.

Unlike synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon, which are harmful to the environment and cannot be biodegraded, cashmere is considered a safer option and can be used without worry.

Cashmere Fabric Throughout History

Cashmere goats were first domesticated in Mongolia and the Kashmir region in the third century BC. Originally from Turkestan, cashmere was first traded in the Middle East. And from there, this exceptionally luxurious fabric made its way to royal courts across Europe and beyond via ancient trading channels. Particularly, there was a spike in demand for cashmere wool in France.

In the nineteenth century, cashmere wool production had become a significant economic factor across Europe. By 1830, the weaving of cashmere shawls using yarn made in France had become a significant economic activity in Scotland.

Although China is now the primary producer of cashmere wool, a robust cottage cashmere industry persists in the countries of Central Asia.

How Cashmere Fabric is Produced

There are a few different procedures involved in making a cashmere fabric.

The first step is collecting the hair that the goats naturally shed during the molting season. The hair can be combed off the goats’ coats, which results in finer, high-quality cashmere or sheared from the fleece. 

The cashmere can also be shorn as an alternative, but this leaves a much thicker, hairier outer coat that needs to be de-haired afterward. Because the fibers in shorn hair are much shorter than when combed, they tend to pill more easily.

Next, the hair is combed into straight lines and carded into fluffy fiber bundles.

After the hair has been collected, the coarse outer coat hairs is separated from the fine and soft undercoat hairs that will create the cashmere.

The cashmere fibers are then twisted into yarn after being assembled into bales and fed into a spinning machine.

Depending on the final textile product, thinner or thicker yarns may be preferred.

So, the yarn is washed, and occasionally, some cashmere manufacturers choose to garment-dye their cashmere rather than use a solid color throughout. The dyed yarn gotten is used to produce the final cashmere fabric. 

Industrial looms take on the refining and spinning jobs used to weave many cashmere items on the market today and even most boutique apparel. 

With this cutting-edge machinery, sweaters, coats, and accessories like hats, stockings, and gloves are remarkably easy to mass-produce. 

Scarves and shawls, especially those still sometimes created by hand, are highly sought after by many haute couture houses due to their originality and exquisite designs, even when the process of creating them is time-consuming. 

Cashmere Fabric Types

Cashmere fabric, like all fabrics, comprises many types, which include; 

  • Cashmere Wool

Cashmere wool is the most delicate and luxurious variety of cashmere fabric. Cashmere wool originates from the cashmere goat found in the Gobi Desert and Kashmir and is extremely fine, soft, warm, and strong. However, It’s usually out of the price range of many people due to its high cost.

  • Pashmina Wool 

Despite its similarities to cashmere, pashmina wool is sourced from Pashmina goats. But they’re very diverse and have their special features. In contrast to pure cashmere, which is not a component of pashmina, pashmina is a composite of numerous distinct fabrics. It’s less expensive than cashmere, so it is usually affordable. 

  • Grade A Cashmere Fabric 

Fabrics made from grade A cashmere are rumored to be the costliest option available. The width of each cashmere hair is around 14 microns, making this fabric exceptionally plush and pleasant to wear.

  • Grade B Cashmere Fabric

After Grade A Cashmere, the quality quickly declines, as Grade B has a width of only 18–19 microns per strand. However, the fabric is about where you’d expect it to be in the middle. 

This cashmere type is not as plush and may even have a small scratchy, gritty quality. It also costs less than Grade A, though the difference varies.

  • C-Grade Cashmere

The quality of this cashmere is the lowest possible. It’s the coarsest and thickest cashmere type available, and it doesn’t also feel very nice. The fabric’s hair has got about 30 microns in width. 

You can get twice as much cloth for half the price or even less. As a result, it is typically included in outerwear with minimal or no direct skin contact.

Cashmere Vs. Wool

Cashmere Vs Wool

Some people sometimes confuse cashmere with wool or its products, probably because of the similarities between both fabrics. Cashmere is a far more unique animal fiber obtained from Kashmir goats, while wool is obtained from sheep, lambs, and alpacas.

Cashmere is superior to wool because its finer fibers are more effective in insulating the wearer from cold temperatures without adding extra bulk. 

Wool, however, is a better material to use as a base layer for winter sports clothing for snowshoeing, skiing, and hiking than cashmere since it stretches more.

How Much Does Cashmere Fabric Cost Per Yard?

Cashmere wool is more expensive than other varieties of wool, but the difference in comfort and luxury it provides is well worth the extra money.

The quality of its fiber significantly impacts cashmere fabric’s cost. While low-quality cashmere is very cheap, high-quality cashmere wool of higher quality can be extremely costly. This is because the fabric, especially those used for haute couture houses, requires extensive time and effort to source, process, prepare, and create.

Cashmere fabric’s fibers get thinner as the quality increases. That being said, a yard of typical cashmere would cost about $15-18. 

Uses of Cashmere Fabric

Many people opt for cashmere products due to the material’s softness and warmth, especially during the colder months. 

  • Clothing

Fabrics made from cashmere wool can be knitted or woven into many different styles. For many years, Europe’s wealthy individuals regarded cashmere as one of the finest textiles for elaborate dresses and other ceremonial attire. This relationship with cultured society continues to this day.

Although cashmere is most commonly associated with sweaters, it can also be woven into other garments such as coats, slacks, and a variety of other outerwear.

  • Accessories

Cashmere shawls, gloves, stockings, and scarves are some of the most often worn cashmere products because they keep the wearer warm and lend a touch of luxury to any attire.

  • Home goods 

Cashmere can also be used for various purposes, not just for clothing. And it’s made its way indoors via quilts, blankets, rugs, and carpets, and these fabrics are decorative and are much too thick to be worn as clothes. 

Throw blankets made of cashmere are both cozy and elegant, making them perfect for use in any cabin and office area. 

Some Maintenance Tips For Your Cashmere Fabric

Cashmere, a luxurious fabric, must stay in shape to prolong the quality of its fibers. These tips would help address issues like pilling, which is very common with cashmere clothing.  

  • Hand washing in cool water is recommended for cashmere clothing. Washing machines can exert a lot of stress on the fibers, stretching or distorting their structure, making them even more delicate when wet. However, when washing your cashmere item, you should always wash it inside and out.
  • Do not dry your cashmere items in a dryer after washing. Instead, you can hang them up to dry to prevent any damage to the fibers. Cashmere should also never be wrung because doing so could ruin the fabric. Instead, press out any extra water and put it flat to dry.
  • It’s also not a good idea to hang cashmere up because doing so could cause irreparable damage. The garment can be folded neatly and stored in a dry place instead.
  • There is no need to press cashmere directly with an iron. Instead, use a pressing cloth. In addition, don’t apply excessive force.
  •  The cashmere in your clothing is probably going to start pilling. A cashmere comb or your hands will do the trick when the fabric is dry.

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