Being one of the most luxurious natural fibers, Cashmere is refined and delicate. It is durable and doesn’t harden over time, and stays dry and absorbs moisture nicely. With thousands of years of history, cashmere has qualities that are well known. The fine and cozy fiber is derived from the undercoat of cashmere goats. To survive in the harsh conditions of unyielding wilderness, natural selection has led the cashmere goat to embrace layering of a sort. Each goat has two coats – a top coat of bulky hair and what you could call a base layer of short, fine and extremely insulating hair known as a duvet.
While pure cashmere is often used for knit sweaters and scarves, it is also mixed with other fibers, such as silk and wool, to create blends that hold their shape better than cashmere alone, and is thus ideal for suits. And while your favourite cashmere overcoat can withstand some rain, an increasing number of menswear companies are coating the material with high-tech membranes for greater water resistance, so you’re not just limited to crinkly nylon windbreakers and rubbery raincoats when it’s storming.
There are a number of tests you can try on your cashmere to see if it’s legit.
The Literary Inspection
Just because a sign says “cashmere” doesn’t mean it’s 100% or even 50% cashmere. For this test, no expert feel or dissections required – all you’ll need to do is simply read the care label. Carefully check the breakdown of the fabric that makes up the garment; see the percentage of cashmere and the percentage of other fibres, if they’re present. No-tag? Red flag.
How’s the Knit?
Typically, you want closely knitted cashmere. The loser that the wool is woven or knitted means that not as much fabric was used. This also means that retailers can buy the fabric cheaper because less cashmere is being used. Despite less wool being used for this fabric, a lot of retailers will still charge a premium price. Loosely knit cashmere is a big signifier of bad quality and much less durable knitwear.
Feels Like Whaaat?
The hand feel of cashmere is a very important indicator of the type of quality fabric that’s been used to make it. Cashmere that feels slippery means that’s it’s been over-processed and won’t keep its shape. Or if it feels really scratchy and gritty, it usually means it hasn’t been de-haired or scoured thoroughly enough, and you’re left with a jumper made from short, rough and dirty fibers.
The In-store Massage
Lower quality cashmere will see fibers begin to roll up or pill if you rub the palm of your hand over the fabric. It’s important to note that even the best woolly knitwear will eventually have some degree of pilling after constant wear with rubbing from bags, jackets etc. But good quality pure cashmere should not pill instantly. So this shouldn’t happen by simply rubbing your hand over the fabric. If this does occur, then it means that shorter, cheaper hairs may have been used.
Nice Dye Job
The end colour on a cashmere piece is actually a reflection of the yarn quality. It means when you see a full, rich finishing colour, that the yarn used was high quality and clean in its raw state. This is the type of time-consuming but top quality yarn that we use.
A Test of Risk
Some fabric fanatics swear by the burn test. This requires taking a thread of your cashmere and lighting it on fire. Yes, fire. You read it correctly. Pure cashmere will burn slowly and shrinks or curls away from the flame and smells like burnt hair. Of course, we don’t endorse doing this to your favourite cashmere.
Synthetics like nylon, polyester or acrylic will burn quickly and can also continue to burn after a flame is removed. Burning these fabrics will produce black smoke and also smell more like plastic.
Needless to say, kids, please do not try this at home.
Note: We, naturally, love and cherish our cashmere dearly. And so, we do not endorse nor recommend trying this method.