You’ve heard about cashmere from someone in your social circle. More than likely, they said it with a tone of reverence. “They made this out of cashmere!” they exclaim. You might also associate cashmere with being very expensive- and you wouldn’t be wrong!
But the bigger question we want to answer is why? Why is cashmere so special? What is this soft textile? How is it made? Why should we treasure cashmere over regular wool clothing?
Come along with us to find out the answers!
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere is a fine hair that comes from the undercoat of goats. It is a sought-after textile; we have always known it for its luxuriousness and softness. Cashmere has over ten thousand years of rich historical roots. In the Kashmir Valley, references to Cashmere clothing go back as far as 3rd century BC.
How is Cashmere Made?
What separates cashmere from other wool is that we can only collect it from certain breeds of goat in freezing climates. The deep cold causes the goats to create fine and warm undercoats to protect themselves from the harsh environment. Because of the cyclical nature of the seasons, cashmere gets harvested only when these goats grow their undercoats. Mongolia has 21 provinces and states, each with its own unique biodiversity and traditions that influence the type of cashmere produced by their goats. Harvesting these undercoats is challenging and tedious. During the winter, the goats grow their down coats and as the weather turns, (as early as March) they molt and shed these layers. In order to collect the down coats, herders prefer to use a hand combing method for collecting because it creates and preserves the soft fibers. Hand combing one goat can take up to two weeks! Sheering is a more timely method of collecting these coats, but it also results in coarser fibers as other parts of the goat’s hair can get mixed into the harvest. It is a more traumatic experience for the goats. The harvesters can sort out the finest fibers with hand combing.
Next, the collected coats are refined to filter out any impurities and oils so they can dye them and spin them into the wool yarn that is used in all of our favorite clothing and accessories.
Why is Cashmere better than Ordinary Wool?
Cashmere wool is unparalleled in its light textures. You will be surprised by how smooth and delicate it is by running your hand over it. Putting on a cashmere sweater is an experience as you’ll be amazed and how smooth it feels on the skin. It is hypoallergenic and does not irritate the skin as much as regular wool. In addition, cashmere wool lasts much longer than a lot of cheaper textiles you find in stores. When treated and washed, cashmere will outlast regular wool blends. Instead of buying new sweaters or socks each year, you can go several years without needing to replace them!