What is the Best Quality Cashmere? Learn What To Look For When Shopping For Cashmere Cardigans and Pullovers
Cashmere is known as one of the more luxurious fabrics available. Irresistibly light and soft, it’s widely used to create beautiful cashmere cardigans, cashmere wraps, and shawls. But if you’re considering adding some cashmere to your wardrobe, you should know that not all cashmere is alike.
This is what you should look for if you want the best quality cashmere for your sweaters, ponchos, and pullovers.
The Source of Cashmere Affects the Quality
Cashmere fibers come from the soft undercoat of certain types of coats that reside primarily in Central Asia, as more recently in Europe and America. The name is the Anglicized version of the word “Kashmir” which is an area in the Northernmost part of India, where the fabric was historically made for thousands of years.
Surprisingly, the climate where the goats reside plays a part in the quality of cashmere they produce. The colder the better. Think about wearing a cashmere sweater. While it’s lightweight and breathable, it’s also incredibly good at keeping you warm. That is because the same fibers that kept goats warm in the harsh climates of Mongolia before it’s combed out every spring, do the same for you when you wear your garment.
Cashmere clothing brand InCashmere sources its premium cashmere from Mongolia, because the extreme temperatures in that part of the world produce the longest, finest, and softest fibers available.
While there have been many attempts to produce cashmere from Mongolian goats in warmer climates, none have been as successful as getting it from the part of the globe where it has come from going back to the13th century.
Always check the label or check with your retailer to find out where your cashmere comes from.
Consider Cashmere Ply and Grade
Cashmere is available in different plys and grades. Ply refers to the amount of cashmere threads that are woven together to create threads. One-ply cashmere is thinner and may work well for warmer-weather garments--though it is more prone to holes. Lower-ply knits are also more likely to be loosely twisted and have an inconsistent appearance.
Three and four-play cashmere is going to be heavier and thicker, good for winter sweaters and ponchos. (Although higher ply cashmere is not necessarily indicative of better quality.)
Two-ply cashmere, consisting of two twisted threads together, is generally ideal for most types of clothing because it offers the perfect balance of softness, elasticity, and warmth. Two-ply knits have an even, consistent appearance throughout the entire piece.
Cashmere is also classified by grade as well, with Grade A cashmere reflecting the highest level of quality and Grade B and C cashmere measuring more microns width per cashmere hair. Keep in mind that in terms of cashmere quality, the finer and thinner the cashmere hair, the better it feels.
Cashmere Gauge Makes A Difference Too
Gauge is a measure describing how tightly an item is knitted. More specifically, it refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch of material. The higher the gauge, the more cashmere yarn has been used to create the garment.
For example, a 7-gauge knit contains seven stitches or rows per inch of material. It’s going to be more open or sheer than a 12-gauge knit sweater. Gauge isn’t always indicative of quality, however. Designers get creative and use different types of knits based on the aesthetic, collection, season, or function that inspires them.
For example, a higher gauge is going to work well for a thick, winter cardigan. And a lower gauge may be better for a lighter, gauzy pullover you can throw over a bathing suit on vacation.
How Does the Cashmere Feel?
When shopping for cashmere, don’t forget to give it the “touch test.” High quality cashmere should feel soft but not overly soft at first. (All cashmere gets softer over time.) When you move your hand over the surface of the garment, it should never catch, snag, or feel itchy to the skin.
Also, be sure to look for tiny little balls that form as you glide your hand over the cashmere. Pilling is indicative of shorter, lower quality hairs and a sign of lesser quality cashmere. Now, with that said, pilling is inevitable with cashmere --over time--but if it pills immediately before you’ve even worn the garment, it’s probably not premium cashmere.
Does Cashmere Pass the Stretch Test?
Now you’re going to check your garment’s elasticity. Ever-so-gently stretch your cashmere sweater or pullover and watch to see if it resumes its shape. Lower quality cashmere will stay out of shape. As you stretch it out, look for holes as well. High quality cashmere is not prone to developing holes and gaps in the knit.
If your clothing passes the stretch test with flying colors, be sure to care for your cashmere properly to help it retain its shape. Always hand wash cashmere wraps and sweaters gently and blot or roll them out against a clean, dry towel to remove excess water. Lay the item out flat to try. Never hang cashmere clothing on a hanger or place it in the dryer.
Proper cashmere care will keep your garments looking and feeling luxurious for many years to come!
Is It Really Cashmere?
When investing in a piece of cashmere, be sure to check the label. Look for items that are 100% cashmere. Some retailers and designers claim to sell cashmere but in reality, their products may contain as little as 10% genuine cashmere.
Cashmere-blend clothing has its place, but every buyer should know exactly what they are getting when they invest in a garment. Always choose reputable cashmere designers and retailers like InCashmere that offer 100% premium cashmere garments at affordable prices.
Find the Highest Quality Cashmere Sweaters, Pullovers, Toppers and Shawls At InCashmere
At cashmere clothing brand InCashmere, our team of designers and manufacturers maintain the highest standards of quality for our cashmere clothing and accessories. Our products are made in Mongolia, where only the very best cashmere fibers are sourced. Shop online or feel the difference for yourself at our showroom in New York City’s famed garment district.