Pronounced: "KASH" + “meer"
Cashmere is the hair from a the underbelly of a goat. Cashmere is one of the softest and most luxurious forms of natural fibre, and is actually more similar to ‘hair’ rather than ‘wool’. Cashmere is characterised by the fineness of the fibres, which are almost silky.
Cashmere is very labour intensive to produce, as one cashmere goat can only generate around 4 ounces of cashmere per year. To be classified as cashmere fibre, the yarn must be less than 19 microns in diameter.
Cashmere goats live around the world but there are large populations of them in China, Mongolia, and Iran as the temperatures vary wildly in those regions. To create a good cashmere coat, the goats need extreme temperatures; 40°C in summer and -40°C in winter. The south island of New Zealand has recently started producing cashmere as the climate has these extremes.
Is cashmere warm?
Cashmere is very warm as it has a slightly fibre which acts as an insulator when worn. Heat from the body is trapped in the fibres, keeping the body warm. Cashmere is also said to be significantly warmer and lighter than sheeps wool, so wearing cashmere will keep you warm without weighting you down. As cashmere is delicate, it is often mixed with other natural fibres like merino wool and silk to make it stronger.
Is cashmere itchy?
No, cashmere is hypoallergenic so is a great option for anyone who reacts badly to wool. Natural fibres like wool and cashmere often get a bad rap for people being allergic to the fibres, but a recent study by Woolmark showed that most people are in fact no allergic to the fibre itself, instead the study concluded that any irritation made by wool was due to coarse fibres protruding out of the fabric, abrading the skin as opposed to an allergy to the fibre itself.
Also, wearing natural fibres is more breathable than synthetic fabrics, so if you find yourself getting sweaty in a polyester hoody, you may find cashmere is much better to wear!
Is cashmere sustainable?
A lot of cashmere is not sustainable - as the demand for cashmere has grown over the last few years, the quality of cashmere production has diminished. Luckily, organisations like The Sustainable Fibre Alliance has been created by leading manufacturers of cashmere to help correct the trend. At iheartcashmere.co.nz we only get our cashmere from approved manufactures who can show their sustainability credentials.
Cashmere is also a biodegradable and 100% naturally renewable fibre so it is much kinder to the earth rather than wearing a polyester which will shed micro-plastics into the water each time you wash it.
Does cashmere production hurt the goat?
No. Cashmere is either shaved or brushed off a goat, and neither process harms the animal. The best way to harvest the cashmere fibre is by brushing it off - this leaves a longer staple of fibre with tapered ends which in turn results in a smoother feeling.
What colour is cashmere naturally?
Cashmere goats vary in colour from pure white to grey and even some are brown. Cashmere is more valuable the lighter colour it is as the final product will be easier to dye. So, white and near-white cashmere is considered the most pure, and the most desirable.