What is cashmere?

Selection of cashmere Sweaters on hangers

As cashmere specialists for over 20 years, the Cashmere Centre knows a few things about the fabulous fibre that is cashmere.  As do our customers, knowing they are purchasing a sustainable material that has been used for many generations, and buying from a company with pedigree when it comes to sourcing the best quality 'grade A' cashmere, designing our own unique and exclusive designs, and taking pride in providing the best customer service available.


History of Cashmere 

Dating back to the 18th Century, cashmere has been regarded as one of the world's most luxurious, warm and soft natural fibres. Our cashmere comes from Mongolian mountain goats whose fleeces are thick and warm enough to protect and insulate them through the icy winter and temperatures as low as -40°C.

Each spring, herdsmen skillfully and gently brush the downy underfleece from each of their mountain goats. This undergrowth of very fine hair (less than 1/6th of the width of human hair) is known as cashmere. This grooming does not in any way harm the goats. The annual fleece from three goats is needed to make a single cashmere scarf. The cashmere is then sorted so that only the purest, highest quality is selected, then cleaned and spun by craftsmen and women.

Once regarded as 'The Fibre of Kings' this luxurious material is available in a splendid palette of colours, hues and designs for all occasions. From whisper soft and warm sweaters, to sleek pashmina to complement any outfit.


What is cashmere? Where is cashmere from? 

Cashmere is such a wonderful and interesting material, it is finer, stronger, lighter and softer than sheep’s wool, and around three times more insulating.  Sumptuously soft and luxurious next to the skin, it’s breathability helps us to regulate temperature naturally and effectively, you will stay cool in summer and warm in winter.

From cashmere goats, cashmere wool is from the fine undercoat produced in the cold mountainous areas of India, Nepal, Mongolia, China, and Iran amongst others.  The cashmere name originates from the word 'Kashmir' which is a region in India.  Cashmere has been used and farmed in some regions for thousands of years.

We are proud to make a variety of cashmere styles to suit the seasonality of the British weather, from 2 ply to 6 ply, we put a lot of thought and work into our products to provide you with comfort year-round.  Genuine 4 ply cashmere is almost impossible to find nowadays.  Except from us - because we've made it ourselves.  Twice as warm, even longer lasting - so go on, give yourself a real treat!


Cashmere Goat grazing on grass


How is cashmere made? 

Cashmere goats produce a double fleece which is made up of a soft undercoat and outer hair due to the cold climates they live in and love.  The cashmere is removed from the goats around the spring moulting time which is naturally when goats will moult their winter hair.  Cashmere goats are very hardy animals and the moulting is a natural process after winter.  Cheaper cashmere is quite often the source of bad practice in the raising and management of goats, with goats receiving poor care.  We pride ourselves on sourcing our cashmere yarn from sustainable and well-run farming practices.

Cashmere farmers will use a coarse comb which pulls tufts from the goat’s fleece, the longer, outer guard hair is then trimmed and often used for other products, but generally not clothing due to the coarser feel. 


Draped pashmina in bright colours


Is cashmere expensive? 

When the goats are de-haired by the farmers, the coarser outer, guard hair is separated from the softer under-hair.  Combing the goats is the most popular and best method for harvesting the cashmere, it takes considerable time to do so properly and this adds to the uniqueness and in turn the price of good quality cashmere clothing and knitwear. Those that take the considerable time to comb the goats properly produce the highest quality and the softest garments, usually, this also means the price will be higher as more time has been invested into the quality of the yarn which is seen in the quality of the cashmere clothing that retailers sell. 

We only use 'grade A' cashmere for our clothing, this means we only source from reputable suppliers and we're proud to cost a little more than our competitors.  Our cashmere is of heirloom quality and customers tell us they still have some of our cashmere from 20 years ago which still looks like new, but feels softer than ever!

Once the de-hairing process has happened the cashmere is ready to be woven, dyed and spun into yarn which we then make into beautifully soft and luxurious clothing.


Close-up of blue cashmere sweater


Is cashmere cruel? 

Responsible retailers will ensure the goats are kept well and this is reflected in the quality of the fibres that are produced.  Healthy and happy goats produce the best cashmere and have the best quality of life.  The Cashmere Centre only sources cashmere fibre from well-run and sustainable farming practices, we ensure the animals are treated well and this is evident in the quality of the cashmere wool we use in our luxurious clothing collections.  

There is no such thing as ‘good quality cheap cashmere’, and retailers offering cheap cashmere products are very unlikely to care about sustainable farming or the welfare of farmers or animals.  We are proud to contribute to sustainable farming practises even if it means it takes longer and costs a little more.  


Cashmere Goats (Kashmir)

 

What does cashmere feel like?

Our cashmere is heavenly soft, imagine your most comfortable woollen jumper, cosy and warm.  Now imagine it is even softer and even cosier.  Cashmere is amazing at helping us regulate our temperature due to the unique properties of the fibre.  This cashmere will get softer over time and feels amazing on the skin, this is not a cheap fibre, this is possibly the best fibre in the world.  You are not wearing a "woolen jumper", you are wearing a cashmere jumper, there is a distinct difference only those educated to cashmere will know of.


As the United Kingdom's most respected cashmere specialists, The Cashmere Centre take great pride in offering you the most beautiful fabrics in a parade of different styles at the best possible price. Our friendly and experienced team are available to answer any questions and make sure you get that perfect garment!

We love designing and creating beautiful cashmere garments for our loyal customers, they respond with fabulous feedback for us which strives us to improve our collection every year, this hopefully provides clarity on why you should choose us for your cashmere knitwear. 

Should you have any further questions we would be so pleased to take time to talk with you about our products and services, and we hope to educate more people to why cashmere is the finest fibre in the world and why we love it so much!



Photography credits:


"Cashmere goat grazing on grass" by Jothy Kumar Selvakumar

"Cashmere Goats (Kashmir)" by JCSmilly


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