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Cashmere – From Goat To Garment

Delicate yet durable, Cashmere is famous for being one of the softest fibres in the world. Cashmere is made from the downy underhair of Cashmere (or Kashmir) Goats and, once woven, can be up to three times more insulating than regular sheep’s wool. Although it has a reputation for being pricey, when cared for properly, clothing made from Cashmere can last a lifetime. 

Where Does It Come From?

There is no such thing as a “purebred” Cashmere goat, as the name refers to a type rather than a breed. Although these goats originated in Kashmir, India, they can be found across the lofty plateaus of The Himalayas; specifically in countries such as Mongolia and Southern China, which are responsible for 85% of the world’s supply of Cashmere wool. Temperatures in these regions can drop below -30 degrees Celsius, meaning these goats have developed a thick, warm coat consisting of two layers – a coarse, wiry outer layer and a soft, downy undercoat from which Cashmere fibres are obtained.

The average sheep can produce up to 4.5 kilograms of wool annually, whereas a Cashmere goat will only produce around 100-200 grams. It takes roughly 300 grams of fibres to make a single jumper, so to put that into perspective, that’s anywhere from 4 to 8 goats per garment. 

These precious fibres can only be collected once a year, using a brushing technique that takes advantage of moulting. Shearing is also used but not preferred due to the tendency for the soft undercoat fibres to become mixed with the bristly outer fur fibres.


Considering the conscientious nature of its production, it is easy to understand why Cashmere is regarded as a luxury item. The way it is processed involves a method that has barely changed since the 1800s.

Once the pure fibres have been harvested, they are sent to yarn mills to be processed, during which time they must be treated delicately. The fragile fibres are prone to damage.

As soon as the Cashmere reaches the wool mill, it is sorted through and separated depending on colour and fineness. It is then carefully and thoroughly washed to remove dirt, grease and other impurities.

After cleaning, the fibres are then put through a carding machine for a process known as “dehairing”, where any coarse outer hair is detangled and removed from the soft undercoat fibres, which are then lined up into thin sheets called rovings. These rovings are then spun into continuous twists of yarn using a spinning mule.

The cashmere yarn is then ready to be dyed and knitted to create beautifully soft, premium quality jumpers, scarves, blankets and more.

Fake Cashmere?

As is the way of the market, whenever an exceptional product gains popularity, there are likely to be cheaper, inferior alternatives. These substandard products may seem like a bargain but are often made of synthetic (or semi-synthetic) fibres such as viscose or nylon. Some manufacturers attempt to keep costs down by blending these substitute fibres with Cashmere wool.

Fortunately, there are ways to tell whether or not your brand new cashmere sweater is the real deal. First and foremost, read the label and consider the brand you have purchased it from. Do they declare this product 100% Cashmere? It is always worth researching a company to learn about their trade and manufacturing operations. 

Primarily, your authentic Cashmere garment should be undeniably soft. If it feels itchy, then it’s likely to be fake. A 1mm-2mm halo of fine “fluff” above the material’s surface strongly suggests a good-quality Cashmere. Longer strands of “fluff” indicate the probability that shorter fibres have been used, and while your garment may be authentic, it won’t last as long. 

Caring For Your Cashmere

To ensure your garment’s long, healthy life, refrain from machine-washing and stick to washing it by hand in tepid water and keep it well away from the tumble dryer. Even hot radiators can cause it to shrink. Instead, lay it on a flat surface to air-dry – hanging it may result in it becoming stretched and misshapen. With the correct care and attention, your Cashmere will only get softer with age and provide you with years of luxurious comfort.