If you don’t own any cashmere you’ve probably heard of it, and you probably also associate as a soft and expensive wool, which it is. If you’re a regular reader of Michael 84 then you’ll know I love cashmere, I own a couple of cashmere jumpers and think they’re great. But here’s the question, Are cashmere jumpers, knits and other wooly fashion and wears, worth the high price tag?
What Is Cashmere?
To answer the question, let’s look at some of the background and essentials which is key to knowing what we’re dealing with. Cashmere is a wool which comes from the cashmere goat or down goat, which is finer and softer than the wool of a sheep. It specifically comes from the undercoat, and a cashmere goat has been specifically bred for the production of the high end wool. The word cashmere is an old spelling of the Kashmir region in northern India, where cashmere has been produced for thousands of years, as well as other places in the world. It’s now produced all over Asia, including China, which is currently the biggest producer. Coarse hairs and down hairs are separated, fibres should be long in length (5cm) with a diameter of less than 19 microns.
What Makes Cashmere Better Than Other Wool Or Alternatives?
Cashmere is pretty coveted, and a lot of people use this as a measuring stick of quality when talking about their knitwear and jumpers. “Is it as soft as cashmere?” Is a common thought or question when someone is buying a knit. It’s usually more expensive because the production and raw material costs are higher, and so greater care is usually taken when making the final product, which are jumpers, scarves and other woollen garments. With that said, as long as it’s cared for correctly, it also usually lasts longer too. Lastly among the main reasons why people love it so much, it’s warm! It’s a really good insulator, which makes it perfect for Winter, and works equally well in Autumn and Springtime too.
High Street Cashmere
There’s plenty of high street brands offering cashmere knits, whether it be jumpers, cardigans or other cashmere accessories such as hats and scarves. As with everything else on the high street, there’s varying quality and price-points. There’s some high street brands which will offer cashmere below £50, however this is likely to be a blend, occasionally only having 5% cashmere and the rest made up of other wool, polyester or acrylic, so it’s important to check what it’s made from.
There’s plenty of premium choices out there, but you should always be careful when buying premium. There’s some brands which will add a premium because of the label/brand, some because of the craftsmanship, and some because of both.
Buyers Guide Checklist
Check The Label – Where was the garment made? Is it “pure” cashmere or just a blend?
Test Out The Jumper – You want to try the garment if you can, and make sure the fit it good.
Feel Test – How soft is it? Are you happy with the quality.
Weight & Thickness – Unlike some ultra fine wool like you can get with merino, cashmere should be fairly thick, not only soft but have a luxurious feeling, and usually be 2-ply or 3-ply.
Care For Cashmere – How To Wash
Since you’ve probably gone out and spent a lot of money on your cashmere sweater, you’ll want to know how to care for it properly. First of all, if you want to wash it properly and give it the ultimate caring treatment, you’ll need to wash it by hand. It does not matter if your washing machine has a wool setting, you should always wash cashmere by hand using cold water and a delicate washing detergent, or opt for a specialised cashmere shampoo.
Get a bowl of cold water and add the detergent, turn the jumper inside out, and submerge it into the bowl. Spot clean any areas which may need it, rinse and repeat if necessary and allow the sweater to soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse the sweater, and press out the excess water gently. Dry the jumper by laying it flat on a towel, making sure you have smoothed it out and laid it to it’s original shape. You should never wring or twist it.
Storing Your Cashmere
Once dry, you’ll want to store it. You should store it folded, rather than hanging it up in your wardrobe on a hanger. Hanging it up for long periods may stretch the jumper, it may loose it’s shape, so you’ll want to store it flat, neatly folding it and keeping in a draw.
Styling – What To Wear With Cashmere
When it comes to styling and putting together an outfit, cashmere is similar to other jumpers and sweaters which you’ll own. The best seasons to wear it are Autumn, Winter and early Spring, with Summer probably being too hot to wear any kind of wool primarily designed to keep you warm. Layering is usually the key since the weather is colder, and if you’re wearing a V-neck knit then a shirt is usually preferable, however a round neck will mean your undergarment will be covered, so a T-shirt would suffice, although a shirt could still be worn.
As for colours, the staple colours of black, different blues and greys are always a good idea, and you can pair these with a variety of different shirts. If you’re going for a coloured knit, make sure your shirt compliments it; It’s usually safe to go for a white shirt with almost any colour knit (other than white!)
John Lewis Made In Italy Cashmere Knit In Duck Egg – £85 – here
Uniqlo 100% Cashmere sweater in navy – £89 – here
M&S Autograph 100% Pure Cashmere Crew Neck Jumper – £89 – here
High Street & Premium Fashion Brand Cashmere
Thomas Pink Kender Jumper In Blue – £195 – here
Reiss Blackjack Roll Neck Cashmere – £189 – here
Reiss Hamilton Crew Neck Jumper – £175 – here
Aquascutum Lyndon V-Neck In Grey – £250 – here
Ted Baker COHEN Crew Neck Knit In Teal – £225 – here
Johnstons Of Elgin Slim Fit V-Neck In Boysenberry – £229 – here
High End Fashion Designers & Brands
Alexander McQueen Charcoal Cashmere Knit – £470 – here
Hugo Boss Tailored Cashmere Sweater – £350 – here
Emporio Armani Cashmere Jumper – £410 – here
Burberry Cashmere Crew Neck – £395 – here
Tom Ford Crew Neck In Red – £750 – here
Pringle Cashmere Knit with Suede Elbow Patch – £550 – here
Cashmere is a great investment piece, and as long as you buy a good colour, fit, and look after it, your knit should last a long time, and prove to be a much loved and much worn piece of clothing in your wardrobe. Remember to check out the latest style advice for guys to see what’s going on in menswear this season with tips on what to wear.