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Myths & Misconceptions about Cashmere

Cashmere is considered a luxury material and the best of all natural fibers.  It offers many benefits such as softness and warmth while being lightweight. However, for some cashmere lovers, there are many myths and misconceptions about cashmere.

Myth # 1 Cashmere comes from Italy

Most of the world’s cashmere comes from China and Mongolia.  While Italy was known for manufacturing garments from cashmere. But now China is making the best cashmere garments, with fantastic and competitive price. About 70% cashmere garments are made in China and exported all over the word. the raw material itself comes from cashmere goats, predominantly from China and Mongolia where the harsh winters provide the correct climate for the goats to grow long fine cashmere fibers.  Cashmere goats can also be found in other areas such as New Zealand, Australia, India, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, though their output is much smaller.

Myth # 2 Cashmere comes from sheep.

Cashmere comes exclusively from cashmere goats.  Wool, for example merino wool, comes from sheep. Cashmere goats and sheep are two different breeds.

Myth # 3 Animals are harmed in obtaining cashmere

Cashmere is hand combed or sheared from the cashmere goats during the spring when they naturally shed their winter coats.  Cashmere goats should not be harmed in the cashmere collection process.

Myth # 4 Grade A cashmere is the best

There is no official grading system for cashmere.  A search on the internet will provide different definitions for these non-official grades such as Grade A and Superior, but these are just marketing terms.  Raw cashmere wool is sorted by color (white, brown, grey) with white being the most expensive as it can be dyed any color and requires less processing.  It is then sorted by fiber diameter, with the thinner and longer fibers being more expensive as they are softer and pill less.

Myth # 5 Good quality cashmere doesn’t pill

All cashmere will eventually pill when worn.  Pilling is caused by friction and is common in areas such as under the arms or where your bag rubs against you.  However, if there is immediate or excessive pilling, then that is a sign of low-quality cashmere where shorter fibers have been used.

Myth # 6 Cashmere should be soft and fluffy

Cashmere gets softer with wear.  If it is incredibly soft when you first purchase it, then beware, the cashmere has likely been over-washed or treated with chemicals to make it feel that way.  This can reduce the life of the garment. Rub your hand across the cashmere and if your fingers feel slippery afterwards, it’s been treated.  The best quality cashmere is made with longer fibers which produces less fluff and gets softer with time.

Myth # 7 Cashmere is dry clean only

You don’t have to dry clean your cashmere; you can hand wash it instead.  You also don’t need to use a special cashmere shampoo (though you can).  Baby shampoo is gentle enough to use on your cashmere garments.  While you can also machine-wash on the gentle or wool cycle in some instances, we do not recommend this.  Hand washing is best for maintaining the shape of the cashmere item and ensuring longevity.

Myth # 8 Cashmere is too warm for summer

Cashmere can be worn in all seasons.  It is hygroscopic meaning it is naturally breathable. It can keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s not, it also wicks away moisture from your body.   Cashmere comes in different ply’s (1-ply, 2-ply, 4-ply etc.), which are the number of strands twisted together to make the yarn. The higher the ply the warmer the item will be, so for summer choose 1-ply items.

Myth # 9 Not cleaning your cashmere items will make them last longer

Anything you own will wear over time and the same applies to cashmere.  However, deciding not to wash your cashmere will not prolong the life of the garments.  Cashmere can be safely hand washed and should be.  If your garments are not washed, then you could face the risk of attracting moths, which can leave holes in your cashmere items.

Myth # 10 Ply is an indication of quality

Ply is the number of strands twisted together to make the cashmere yarn.  2-ply cashmere, where two strands of yarn are twisted together is stronger than 1-ply and as a result is less likely to develop holes.  Higher ply’s such as 4-ply add additional weight and warmth, but do not indicate additional weight and warmth, but do not indicate additional quality.

Myth #11 Cashmere is expensive

Cashmere items may be more expensive than others, but when you consider the benefits of cashmere which are that it is lightweight, soft, strong and insulating as well as being breathable and moisture wicking, the benefits outweigh the costs.  When cared for properly, cashmere can last a lifetime.

Myth # 12 You cannot iron cashmere

You can iron cashmere, but you must take a few precautions.  First clean your iron as stains can be transferred, then set the iron on “low” or “wool” setting and turn the cashmere garment inside out before ironing.

Myth # 13 Pashmina is better than cashmere

Pashmina is the name of a textile from India that was used to make shawls.  Pashmina is made from cashmere, traditionally from cashmere goats from India, Pakistan and Nepal.  It is not necessarily rarer or softer than other cashmere items.  The term Pashmina is also widely misused now to include shawls made from a variety of fabrics.

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