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Cashmere vs Merino Wool? Differences? Similarities?

Person wearing merino wool scarf

Wool was one of the first-ever fabrics made by human beings. It’s been worn for thousands of years, even before ancient Rome and Greece and all that. And in all that time, humans have figured out how to create all different types of wool. They all have their own differences and similarities and knowing those qualities is important. So when it comes to cashmere vs merino wool, it will help you to know the differences and similarities so you always get the right wool for you.


Different Types of Wool

Pile of cashmere scarves

The type of wool you’re most familiar with is probably sheep’s wool. Sheep live all around the world and their fleecy hair is cut off and spun into yarn that is then used to make sweaters, scarves and all kinds of fashion items. But there are different types of sheep wool and there are other animals that produce hairs that can be turned into wool.

Goat hair can also be made into wool. Cashmere is just this type of wool. It’s made from the long, fine hairs of a certain type of goat that lives only in a specific region around Mongolia, in Asia.

All types of wool are insulating, moisture-resistant, lightweight and breathable and yet durable and strong. Wool is a high-performance material and it has so many qualities, it’s been a popular clothing material for centuries upon centuries. People have been using sheep and goats to make quality clothing for a long, long time. But within the various types of wool, there are lots of similarities and differences.

Merino Wool

Merino sheep used for merino wool close up

Merino wool comes from a specific type of sheep, conveniently known as merino sheep. These sheep are primarily raised in Australia and New Zealand. They’re prized because the hairs they produce are very fine. Merino has excellent moisture-wicking qualities because of this.

This wool also retains its shape well. Merino is considered to be a performance wool, which is why it is often used in activewear made for winter sports. This is a popular wool for skiing gear and similar clothing items.


Close up of cashmere wool

Made from goat hair rather than sheep wool, cashmere is finer and softer than sheep’s wool, even quality sheep’s wool like merino. Cashmere goat hairs are collected by hand and the goats live in only a certain part of the world. The wool these hairs produce is lightweight and warm and incredibly soft to the touch. Because of its relative scarcity and the beauty and touchability of the wool, cashmere is a luxury fabric that is used in expensive designer clothing.

Cashmere has a gorgeous drape to it and a naturally touchable finish that makes it highly prized in clothing of all kinds.

Cashmere vs Merino

Both cashmere and merino are types of wool and like all wools, they share many similarities. Wool is always warm and soft to the touch, moisture-resistant and breathable. It’s strong but lightweight and it makes beautiful knitted pieces.

However, there are some differences between these two types of wool because they come from different animals and different places.


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Cashmere is the warmer of the two. At the same thickness, cashmere is several times warmer than merino wool. Cashmere is also softer to the touch than merino.

However, merino is strong. Merino wool is more durable and performs a bit better than cashmere. It pills less than cashmere and it does not need to be washed as often.


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Cashmere is the more expensive wool between these two types and actually, cashmere is the most expensive wool on the planet. It’s a luxury wool and is considered to be the best of the best, though arguably there are other types of wool that are just as soft as cashmere. Merino, however, is not one of them. Merino is more durable and performs a bit better so it is very popular in activewear. But cashmere is more popular in high-end couture, so it is much pricier.

Feel Merino Wool Base Layer Women 100% Merino Wool Midweight Long Sleeve Thermal Shirts + Wool Socks (Medium, Black 250)

Merino and cashmere are both comfortable to wear. Merino tends to be a bit more stretchy and moves with you a little more easily than cashmere, which is why you find it more often in performance clothing. Cashmere is less itchy than merino and therefore, a little more comfortable to wear overall.

Choosing Between Cashmere vs Merino Wool

Close up of merino wool

Merino is definitely the most luxurious type of sheep’s wool, known for its softness and its performance qualities. But cashmere is considered to be the most luxurious wool in the world and it’s a highly prized material in high fashion. Choosing between cashmere vs merino comes down to price and to what you want from your wool. One is softer and more luxurious, while the other is more high-performing. Choose your wool wisely based on how you’re going to wear it and you’ll never go wrong with your knit fashion.


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