Warm and soft throughout the winter, cashmere is a wonderful and luxury material that has no equal in the world. Primarily created by hand, cashmere is a particular fiber that makes soft and warm wool that can be used for sweaters, scarves, and shawls. This material isn’t for the faint of heart, though, and it can cost a significant amount due to its rarity and labor-intensive production process.
Let’s take a closer look at how cashmere wool is created and better understand why this material is so expensive
Where Does Cashmere Come From?
Many types of cloth and material are made from wool that is spun from the fiber. The cashmere fiber is made of carefully spun fiber that is used to form threads, which can then be woven into a sweater, socks, and scarves. Unlike fiber that comes from sheep’s wool, cashmere wool comes from a goat. These goats are usually a breed of goat called a cashmere goat or a pashmina goat.
Although this soft wool and fiber are traditionally related to the Kashmir region, much of the available cashmere fiber is produced in China and Mongolia today. This fact is because modern-day production techniques have made cashmere wool cheaper and more affordable in these areas.
How Is Cashmere Made?
Usually, during the spring molting season, when the goats lose their winter fur, the soft fiber is collected. Of course, both the course topcoat of the goat and the desirable wooly undercoat are shed and must be separated. Completing this process by hand is time-consuming but also has higher yields.
The soft downy undercoat is used to make pure cashmere wool, while the coarse topcoat is used for brushes. The normal process to create wool, complete with spinning the individual fibers into long threads and yarn, is completed so people can use the cashmere fiber to create a cashmere sweater, shawl, or scarf.
Why is Cashmere So Expensive?
If you have been eyeing a beautiful new cashmere sweater, expect to pay a high price for this particular type of wool. Unlike sheep’s wool, goat’s wool has an incredibly high price and is primarily considered a luxury item. Purchasing any cashmere product will set you back a few dollars, but why is this material so expensive?
First, the cashmere or pashmina goats are rare breeds found in cold, high plateaus. These goats like the cold weather, and need to go through six months of cold winter to be able to produce the thick, downy wool that is used in cashmere production. Only a few countries in the world have these rare goats, and cashmere goats only make up about 0.5% of the total goat population in the world.
Compared to other types of sheep wool and yarn, cashmere wool has a very small yield. Not only do you need to wait up to 6 months to have quality cashmere to create cashmere yarn, but the goats are relatively small. This fact means to make just one single cashmere scarf, you must use three to four goats worth of wool.
Imagine the amount of yarn and cashmere hair to make a sweater. The rarity of the goat, combined with the small yield, can significantly increase the price of this luxury material.
When your product is in short supply, but there is a high demand, expect the price to skyrocket. This fact is true with cashmere, and many people actively seek out this warm and soft material. Not only is cashmere one of the softest wools available, but it is also one of the warmest.
These facts make cashmere a popular commodity, and people are willing to pay top dollar for the material. In some areas of the world, cashmere is even referred to as “soft gold” because of its rarity and high price.
Made By Hand
To get enough cashmere to create yarn and thread, it takes a great deal of hard work that must be completed by hand. Separating the coarse topcoat from the wooly undercoat is labor-intensive. A person must pull out each hair individually to get the soft and downy undercoat needed to make a garment.
This process is labor-intensive and significantly increases the price of cashmere. This fact is why even buying a simple cashmere shawl or scarf can cost a small fortune.
When purchasing cashmere, you may be shocked at the high price tag. Because the price is so high, you must make the right choice with your purchase. Understanding what makes a good quality cashmere shawl or scarf can help you better spend your money and find a quality piece that will last. Below, let’s examine some commonly asked questions surrounding cashmere so that you can make a better-informed purchase.
How expensive should an authentic cashmere product be?
When it comes to cashmere products, the sky is the limit as far as pricing is concerned. To begin with, even low-quality cashmere is an expensive commodity. Usually, the finer the individual cashmere fibers, the higher the quality. Expect to pay several hundred dollars for a simple cashmere sweater.
Why are cashmere sweaters more expensive?
Compared to other types of wool materials and fibers, cashmere sweaters are significantly more expensive. The price reflects several factors, including the rarity of the sheep, the relatively low yield from each animal, and the labor-intensive manual labor required to harvest and prepare the wool fibers for production. Couple this with the fact that cashmere is a high-demand product, and the price escalates very quickly.
Is the wool cruel to animals?
Not at all! When it comes time to harvest the cashmere wool from the goats, workers will wait until the goat naturally sheds at the start of spring. The heavy and thick wool that has helped protect the goat during the harsh and cold winter is too warm for the goat in the spring and summer months, so the wool is naturally shed. The wool is then collected and prepared for production, not hurting the animals at all.
How do you know if the cashmere is of good quality?
Cashmere is a luxury fiber that fetches a high price tag. Determining whether your cashmere is of good quality is easy to do. Usually, the finer and thinner the individual threads of cashmere yarn are the higher quality the material.
Creating fine fibers takes skill and time, which can dramatically increase the price and quality of the piece. Further, to determine if cashmere is high-quality, feel the material and the softness. Material that is softer to the touch is usually a higher quality fiber.
Lastly, pay attention to where the cashmere originated. Today, many cashmere garments come from China or Mongolia because they have simplified and streamlined the production process to make it more affordable. However, high-quality cashmere usually comes from the Himalayas.
This location is because the weather conditions are more intense, forcing the goats to grow a woollier and thicker coat. This thicker coat translates into softer and warmer cashmere wool for your sweater, shawl, or scarf.