It may sound like a cliche but once you’ve worn cashmere it’s hard to go back. When it comes to knitwear, cashmere really is king. It’s incredibly soft, lightweight and ever so warm – it’s said to be three times warmer than sheep’s wool.
Cashmere comes from the finer undercoat fibres of the cashmere goat. It’s usually combed from the goats during their moulting season and is then separated from the course guard hairs that are moulted at the same time. Each goat is said to produce around 115g each year, meaning for just one sweater the wool of 3-4 goats is required. This is one of the reasons for its elevated cost. There are several grades of cashmere depending on the diameter of the hairs, the best, Grade A is 14-15.5 microns thick and, the worst, Grade C is around double that at 30 microns.
“…for just one sweater the wool of 3-4 goats is required.”
I’ve tested out a lot of high-street cashmere. Initially I’ve been impressed but a couple of wears and washes later and it no longer resembles the jumper I bought. It’s moulted onto everything I’ve touched, there are bobbles on high-friction areas and it’s shrunk. Don’t believe the hype, it’s just not worth it. If you’re ready to invest in cashmere look to the high-end brands that work with the most respected mills. One brand I can highly recommend is Chinti and Parker, a London based clothing brand that specialise in a ‘classic-with-a-twist essence’. They cater for those of us with a more minimalist aesthetic as well as those looking for designs with personality (they collaborated with Miffy last year and have another exciting collaboration coming soon).
Caring for cashmere can also put a lot of people off but with a little guidance it’s not that hard and will see your prised knitwear lasting a whole lot longer than you might expect. Chinti and Parker have put together an incredible cashmere care guide that shows you step-by-step the best practises for keeping your cashmere looking and feeling like new.