What is cashmere?
Cashmere is a very fine, soft and luxurious fiber that is obtained from the pashmina goat, after the goat sheds its wool in a natural process. These goats live in a very severe and harsh climate at an altitude of 14,000 feet where the temperatures are typically -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cashmere is celebrated for its warmth and softness, but it is an expensive and scarce commodity. Grade A cashmere costs about $100 for 2 pounds. The quality is dependent on the thickness of the fibers of hair obtained from the goats, which usually range between 14 and 30 microns. The lower the number of microns means the higher the softness and quality of the cashmere fiber. Did you know that cashmere is also called pashmina in the Persian language?
Cashmere fiber grades
The most important consideration in buying cashmere clothing is the quality of cashmere fabric, which is the fineness and length of the hairs. Grade A cashmere apparel is the softest and clothing made from long and thin fibers will maintain their shape for longer and are also longer-wearing and more durable.
- Grade A
- Grade B
- Grade C
- Cashmere Blends
Grade A fiber is the best in terms of quality. It is the longest and thinnest and also softest. The fibers have a small diameter, ranging from 14 to 15.5 microns and the length is longer than other grades, normally 34 to 36 mm long. Grade A cashmere items also last longer than other grades.
Grade B cashmere fiber is thicker than Grade A, with a diameter of 19 microns. It is a fine fabric, but is less soft. Most departments store and online merchants sell Grade B cashmere apparel, but it is not the best.
The lowest quality cashmere is Grade C. It is very thick and about 30 micron sin and the cost is much more less than Grade A and Grade B. Garments made from this grade feel soft, but do not demonstrate the luxuriousness and softness of Grade A cashmere. Discount retailers often advertise clothing as cashmere at extremely low price, but is usually Grade C and of inferior quality.
Grade B or Grade C cashmere is often combined with polyester or sheep wool to create an inexpensive cashmere type of sweater. The quality is lower (manufactured, not hand-crafted) and it is not long wearing compared to pure cashmere..
Inexpensive Chinese cashmere has flooded the market creating a “puppy mill” type of environment and sensation.
China has reduced the cost of cashmere by grazing a significant amount of goats on very little land resulting in fertile land turning into deserts creating severe dust storms and inadequate food resources for goats. The remaining and undernourished goats have little to eat causing more herders to add even more animals to less productive land.
Cheap cashmere (Grade B and Grade C) have reached discount stores and less educated consumers are simply fooled by the term “cashmere” without recognizing the quality of cashmere or the differences in production techniques.
Les Bon Cashmere comes from mountain goat “Capra Hircus,” or “Changra” in the upper regions of the Himalayan Mountains and is considered the finest in the world. This wool is carefully shaven from the underside of the animal’s neck and torso and the animal is not harmed in this process.
How to recognize different cashmere grades
Unfortunately buying cashmere products may be confusing, since most cashmeres clothing labels do not indicate the cashmere grade or other important factors. Also many inexperienced sales personal and retail companies or online websites selling multiple types of clothing are not familiar with the cashmere grading process. Your Assurance of Quality from us is that all products from LesBonCashmere has the cashmere grade on the label, which is Grade A cashmere.
In addition, good cashmere sweaters and apparel should be two ply thickness and dependent on style sometimes four ply. Hand knit clothing by skilled and experienced workers is also more expensive than machine manufactured products. Details, such as cable stitching will also add to the cost.
FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU BUY
- Grade: Be sure it is Grade A cashmere.
- Ply: You want two ply or more.
- Hand-Crafted: Workmanship is better if hand-crafted than manufactured.
- Price: Dependent on style and mark-up expect to pay $300 to $500 or more for fine cashmere sweaters, Because we operate online with low overhead and buy directly our prices for LesBonCashmere sweaters and other items are lower and you are assured of cashmere quality.
Check the fabric label for these four factors. Many cashmere clothing will not include or tell you these quality factors. LesBonCashmere sweaters and apparel provides you value with price.