Cashmere is considered to be a luxury fabric, and clothing makers charge more for items made with this plushy material. But not all cashmere is the exact same. In fact, there are many different types of cashmere. Learn how to identify them and know what their differences are, so you always know exactly what kind of cashmere you’re getting. When you know cashmere, you’ll never overpay for cashmere again and always get the quality you want when you’re shopping.
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere is a type of wool that is used to make all kinds of fashion items. You can find it everywhere. Socks, sweaters, coats, gloves, scarves, underwear, hosiery, dresses, hats, shirts…you name it and it can be made from cashmere. However, you will more commonly find this material in coats, scarves, hats, gloves and knitwear. Because it’s so naturally soft, cashmere has become a popular luxury material. The wool is soft and fine and gentle enough to be worn against the skin, unlike itchier and coarser types of wool.
The Different Types of Cashmere
All cashmere, or Kashmir, is made from fibers taken from cashmere or pashmina goats. These goats specifically come from the Kashmir region and the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia. However, not all cashmere is made the same way. There are many different types of cashmere that you’ll find when you’re shopping for knitwear and other fall and winter fashion items. Get to know them all.
As the name suggests, Grade A cashmere is the highest quality cashmere. It is very soft and fine to the touch. Grade A cashmere is non-irritating on the skin. Only long, thin fibers are used to create this type of cashmere. This creates an incredibly beautiful and highly wearable fabric that has great draping.
Grade A cashmere creates high-end clothing and accessories or all kinds.
Grade B cashmere is not quite as fine and soft as Grade A cashmere. It will feel slightly rough and scratchy if you rub your skin against it. That’s because medium-length and shorter-length fibers are mixed into longer goat hairs to create this type of cashmere.
In Grade A cashmere, only the finest goat hairs are used. Grade B cashmere uses a mix of goat hairs, some of which are lower in quality.
The is the least expensive grade of cashmere is the roughest type of cashmere. Usually, this type of cashmere is used to make items that won’t have much contact with bare skin. Grade C cashmere is made from the lowest-quality goat hairs. However, even this lowest-quality type of cashmere has the luxury and beauty of cashmere.
Grade C cashmere is rougher and coarser on skin than the most expensive cashmere (Grade A) but it is still a high-end material and still has the softness and warmth of natural wool.
Pashmina goats produce fibers so similar to cashmere that pashmina wool is often classified as cashmere, though technically they are not the same material. Pashmina goats are found in India and sometimes, this material is referred to as Indian wool. The word for wool in Persian is “pashm.”
Like cashmere, pashmina wool is fine, soft, warm and considered to be a luxury fabric.
Where Did Cashmere Come From?
People have been breeding cashmere goats around Mongolia for thousands of years. The goats have been used for the fabric their hairs can create since at least the 3rd century B.C.E., and the practice may actually be far older than this.
Pulling the Wool Over the World
Cashmere wool was traded throughout the Middle East and eventually, the fabric made its way into Europe. Cashmere became extremely popular in France, which has been a hub for fashion and style for many centuries.
Cashmere continues to be used in fashion and it’s found in lots of high-end styles. To make cashmere, the hair is sheared off cashmere goats. The raw wool is cleaned and combed. The fibers are then spun and twisted and turned into yarn. This yard is cleaned again and dye is applied.
The finished yarn can now be woven to create clothing and accessories of all kinds.
How to Care for Cashmere
Cashmere is a luxury material and it’s a type of wool, a fabric that is notoriously difficult to keep clean. You should have cashmere dry cleaned or wash it by hand only. Heat can cause the fibers to shrink and vigorous washing can damage the fibers, causing them to stretch out. Do not pull or twist cashmere and let it air dry, rather than putting it in the dryer.
Trying Different Types of Cashmere
The different types of cashmere have different textures and different pricing, so it pays to know which type is which and how they differ from each other. Lower-grade cashmere should be less expensive but it still has the luxury of cashmere fabric. Knowing the difference will make you a smarter shopper and now, you will be a cashmere expert. Explore the world of cashmere fashion and use your expertise to find the best deals on items made from this luxury material.
Lands’ End – Your Ultimate Guide to Cashmere