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Cashmere Explained

Aiko Stevenson

The perception of cashmere is that it is very expensive; placing it within a “luxury” category.

From a consumer’s point of view, they would likely consider whether cashmere socks worth it, or perhaps, are cashmere sweaters worth it? The perception is that Cashmere is expensive, and for the most part – yes, it is.

Whichever you look at it, once you see the facts for yourself then you’ll appreciate the reasons why cashmere is so expensive.

Cashmere is known for being one of the softest fibers in the world. Its thin hairs mean that it can be woven into incredibly soft, luxurious garments and it’s long lasting, but it comes at a cost.

Also, here’s an interesting fact, Cashmere goats have two layers of hair, both thick wiry guard hairs and a super-soft cashmere undercoat.

In this resource I will share some of the most common comparisons that we recieve when we meet with clients discussing Cashmere, especially with regards to wholesale and bulk cashmere B2B ordering.

While wool is derived from sheep, cashmere is derived from goats, specifically cashmere goats, pashmina goats, and a few other breeds. And that is the main difference, i.e. Cashmere comes from goats, whilst wool comes sheep.

To put it another way, all cashmere is wool, but not all wool is cashmere. That might sound a little confusing but it shouldn’t be when you think about the difference with the animals.

Cashmere, when compared to wool on the other hand, is finer, lighter, softer, and has three times the insulating properties of sheep’s wool. Higher-quality cashmere is more durable. High-quality cashmere products can last for more than 20 years if properly cared for. A cashmere product is typically between 8 to 10 times warmer than a wool product for the same item of clothing, like for example cashmere sweaters, socks or scarves. Because cashmere fiber is hollow and finer than wool, it is lighter. Higher-quality cashmere is more durable. High-quality cashmere products can last for more than 30 years if properly cared for. A cashmere item of clothing (or a blanket) is not only warmer when compared to wool but it is also ligher too.

In case you don’t know the Alpaca comes from South American. The Alpaca is a type of camelid mammal native to South America. It is related to, and frequently confused with, the llama. And, as we’ve already discussed in the point above, Cashmere comes from goats.

In terms of softness and strength, a sweater made of baby alpaca wool outperforms cashmere. Cashmere fibers are four centimeters long, whereas alpaca fibers are eight to twelve centimeters long. This means that alpaca fiber garments are more resistant, and thus last longer and are less prone to pilling. Alpaca is a natural fiber with a silky, luxurious feel, similar to cashmere; it is as warm and soft as cashmere, but even more durable. Alpaca fibers are hollow and have an insulating core, so they are both warm and breathable. Alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic and free of lanolin.

A good quality alpaca fiber will typically have a thickness of 18-23 microns, whereas most cashmere fibers are 19 microns. This means that alpaca can be as soft as, if not softer than, cashmere.

It’s difficult to say with certainty, but most of us in the industry (especially working with wholesale Cashmere) feel that cashmere is at least six to eight times warmer than merino wool or merino wool versus cashmere with regards to a “warmth comparison”. While sheep’s wool is known being itchy, lambswool is typically softer and less prone to irritate the skin. Lambswool is a versatile natural fabric that is popular among knitters and spinners; indeed we used to be Scottish spinners – that’s the origin of our company at Macnab Drummond.

This rabbit that I am referring to is also know as the European rabbit, which is a species of rabbit native to Spain, Portugal, and France.

Spanish Grey Rabbit Fur is delightfully smooth to the touch and naturally warm, making it ideal for early-winter gloves. Because it is slightly thicker than cashmere, some flex will be lost when wearing the gloves.

Cashmere has the potential to be seven to eight times warmer than merino wool. Cashmere has a greater loft than wool, making it softer. Merino wool is more durable and resists pilling more efficiently. Merino wool is produced from Merino sheep’s wool. And, while cashmere is commonly referred to as “wool,” it is actually the hair of a Cashmere goat. The ultrafine hair used in cashmere sweaters is really the supersoft, insulating undercoat of a Cashmere goat’s neck.

It’s difficult to say with certainty, but most industry specialists feel cashmere is at least eight times warmer than merino wool in a merino wool versus cashmere warmth comparison. A cashmere garment is unlikely to be pure or 100 percent cashmere from cashmere goats. Similarly, “merino wool” should not be presumed to be 100% merino wool from a Merino sheep bred particularly for its fiber. And “lambswool” is not synonymous with “pure (or 100 percent ) lambswool.” While sheep’s wool is known for its itchiness, lambswool is typically softer and less prone to irritate the skin. Lambswool is a versatile natural fabric that is popular among knitters and spinners.

Cashmere shawls are manufactured from the wools of Himalayan goats, but Pashmina is only made from a special breed of mountain goat known as Capra Hircus. Cashmere yarn is a natural fiber that is extremely warm and soft. As a result, Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are the warmest wrap accessory available. It is claimed that if you wear a Pashmina shawl in the fall and early winter, you will not need to layer on layers of large jackets and cardigans.

An Angora is a species of rabbit, much like the Spanish Grey Rabbit. Angora is widely accepted as being soft to the touch as it has thin fibers, and what knitters (and Cashmere spinners) refer to as the halo (which really means fluffiness). It’s also renowned for having a smooth feel. Because of the hollow center of the angora fiber, it is considerably warmer and lighter than wool. Angora wool, which is softer than cashmere, is one of the most popular fabrics for the soft, cozy sweaters that so many people seek. The fine fibers are derived from domestic Angora rabbits.

Because of its unique characteristics, cashmere fiber outlasts cotton. Cashmere sweaters keep their form far longer than cotton sweaters, and they don’t shrink as much when cleaned either. Cashmere items may endure far longer than their cotton equivalents if they are properly cared Basically, it’s cotton that’s been mixed with cashmere. Cashmere and cotton are combined in the manufacturing process. However, cotton fabric has poor wrinkle resistance and stretchability. It’s also worth noting that cashmere has a high reduction and wrinkle resistance, thus mixing cotton with cashmere.

And that’s it!

I hope you enjoyed your whiste-stop tour of all of the comparisons that we hear of here at Macnab Drummond!

If you do need any assistence with B2B Bulk Cashmere orders then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we’d be delighted to help even if just to offer some friendly advice.

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