There are a few things in life that can define luxury, pure cashmere is one of them. But as with everything, there is cashmere and there iscashmere.
Why does cashmere vary so much in price?
All cashmere comes from goats that live in cold climates, for example, Mongolia or Nepal. In winter, the goats grow a down-like fur, called cashmere, next to their skin for extra insulation, and in spring this is combed out as they naturally molt. The ‘raw’ cashmere fibres are then sorted by colour and quality. The darker the colour of the fibre, the cheaper the price as white is highly sought after. There are two important measures of cashmere quality, the length and thickness of the hair fibres. The longer and thinner they are, they more expensive they cost.
Put simply, there are three accepted ‘grades’ of cashmere. The lowest and cheapest are the darkest colour and have the shortest and thickest fibre length – this is a quality predominantly sold in the domestic Chinese market and is sometimes used by international chain stores. Mid-quality cashmere grades are used by the majority of international clothing brands, especially for jumpers. The highest grade of fibres are used to make superfine yarns and by industry leaders like Loro Piana, Cariaggi and, of course, Mirror in the Sky.
There is a big price difference between the grades, with the highest grade often selling for 3-4 times the price of the cheapest fibres.
Are there other differences and are they really important?
Cashmere is an amazing fibre, soft, resilient and very warm, it is both challenge and delight to work with. But fibre sorting is only the first step in a long manufacturing process to eventually produce the products we sell. We’ve found that handmade cashmere always has a better soft and supple hand-feel than machine woven or knitted products. We believe it is the skill of the artisan, the subtle interplay of hands and cashmere that makes a difference to each product.
Another factor that makes a difference is the water quality used to wash and prepare yarns. Processed and chlorinated water sources should always be avoided – we only use natural spring water – which is then returned to the environment in perfect condition.
The bottom line is that you can feel the difference – rub the cashmere on your face where your skin is more sensitive than your hands to really test the quality.
Why do we say ‘redefining Cashmere’?
When people think of cashmere, they imagine thick and warm products for cold winters but, like many natural fibres, cashmere can regulate body temperatures. If made correctly, it is perfect on a cool spring or autumn evening, although you probably would prefer one of our blended cashmere products for warmer conditions. We’re proud of our development of superfine products that take cashmere into a new world of versatility and comfort.
So how can you tell the quality of cashmere from just looking at a website?
First, have a look at the range of products a brand makes to give you an idea of their level of quality. Superfine cashmere products like our Signature Designs, Soufflé, Festival and St Tropez (in the spring range) are very rare and hard to find from any brand, so they are a good indication of a brands proficiency and access to high quality yarns.
Digital printing and a variety of weaves or knit patterns are also a good indication of a brand’s ability to work with such a delicate fibre. If you are only looking at cold weather winter products made from thicker yarns, you will find it much harder to tell the difference. And finally there is price, as the cashmere yarn is often 70-80% of the manufacturing cost of each product, you know that cheaper prices must mean lower quality yarn.
Do you have any questions? Please feel free to contact us…