The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true when it comes to purchasing wool or cashmere clothing. True, some garments will be overpriced for the quality you are getting, but very cheap products are never the best quality. When purchasing, examine the garment and the tags to make sure you are getting a garment you’ll want to wear.
To begin with, cashmere comes in a variety of categories.
‘Pure cashmere’ is 100% goat cashmere. It is taken from the undercoat only, and consists of a thin fibre from within the root of the goat hair. It grows in winter and falls out in spring when the temperatures rise again. One goat can produce only 50-80g or pure cashmere each year. To put that into perspective, it takes five goats a full year to produce enough cashmere for one jumper. Mongolia and China are major producers – with China alone producing more than half of the world’s supply.
‘Silk cashmere’ is a blend of cashmere and silk, as the name suggests. The addition of silk makes garments stronger and easier to manufacture, while not taking too much away from the softness or thermal properties of the resulting fabric. It can wrinkle, but is not particularly prone to it, and the silk fibres help to prevent stretching during wearing, cleaning and drying of the garment. Overall, it is a good compromise between the higher price of pure cashmere and the loss of the features that higher price buys you. If you want a cheaper product that still functions mostly like pure cashmere, this is a good choice.
‘Cotton cashmere’ is, as one would expect, a blend of cotton and cashmere. It is less expensive than silk-cashmere, and takes away from the thermal properties of the cashmere itself, but is still quite soft and easy to work with during the manufacturing process. The main problem with cotton cashmere is that it is prone to wrinkling and stretching. A major benefit, however, is that it dyes well, so more vibrant colours can be produced. Within this category, prices range quite widely, as quality changes with different blends and fibre sizes.