The most luxurious knitwear is fashioned from cashmere fibres but such garments come at a high price. Even the cheapest high street offerings are beyond most people’s budgets.
Cashmere jumpers don’t look greatly different to other decent knitwear and so it is easy to understand why many people feel that they are a luxury they simply cannot afford. For others, however, cashmere clothing is a must have element of their wardrobe and the worldwide demand for the fibre is growing rapidly. So why is cashmere special and so very expensive?
Unlike many woollen fibres cashmere is obtained from goats. The name comes from an old English spelling of Kashmir, a region in India which has been producing scarves from the fibres for centuries. The particular fibres used for clothing are the finer hairs from the coat of the goats with the coarser or guard hairs being used in other applications. The hairs are usually harvested by hand using combs on the necks and underbellies of the animals rather than by shearing the entire fleece. Thus the yield of high quality fibres from each animal every season is very low, hence the high cost.
Cashmere has a fine texture which is very soft and yet is stronger and more resilient than other wools. Cashmere is also very light and a great thermal insulator making cashmere garments lightweight, extremely warm and very durable. It is the perfect choice for mountaineers and explorers as well as those seeking the ultimate in luxurious fashion.
The High Street
In recent years many of the big high street retailers like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and even Primark have offered what appear to very reasonably priced cashmere garments in their stores. The term cashmere is certainly an attention grabber but is the clothing the real thing? If you can buy a ladies cashmere jumper for £42 why are others so costly? These garments are certainly cashmere but they tend to be made with lower grade fibres than the more pricey garments. The resulting clothes are still softer and warmer than other knitwear but are not out of the top drawer. In addition these jumpers tend to be made with a more open knit so that less yarn is used in each piece. One of these low cost cashmere pullovers is likely to weigh around 200g whereas a higher quality knit will weigh 50% more than that. If you are looking for the very best from your cashmere you are going to have to pay more for it.
Cashmere may be a bit pricey but you get what you pay for. Garments made from high quality fibre will be the softest and warmest knitwear you can find and are light and durable with it. High quality cashmere is fashioned using the best and longest fibres which are less prone to pilling and keep their shape well with multiple wears and washes. If you want the ultimate in warmth without being weighed down by enormous chunky knits then cashmere is your answer but it won’t come cheap!
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Sally Stacey is a professional writer who also owns a bridal shop and was on the board of a London based distribution company for 16 years. A frequent traveller for both leisure and business, Sally is always looking for a new adventure to write about.