Cashmere Explained – How To Spot A Quality Scarf, Sweater, Sport Coat, Avoid Pilling & Wash Kashmir


Welcome back to the gentleman’s Gazette. Today’s video is all about cashmere. We discuss what it is, touch on history, the
environmental impact, tell you what to look for when you buy it, what quality cashmere
is, what crap cashmere is, do’s and don’ts, and how to take care
of it. Cashmere today is easily taken for granted. In recent decades, the price of
cashmere at department stores has gone down and down and so more people have been able
to acquire it. At the same time, high-quality cashmere remains
one of the most luxurious fibers you can find to this day. So what exactly is cashmere? It is super soft and it is a fiber which is
the under hair from the cashmere goat and usually, a goat can only produce about 150
grams a year which is only about a third of a pound. It is the only defined under hair that has
a very narrow diameter which makes the fiber very soft to the touch. To protect the term cashmere, the US government
has the wool product labeling act which says that in order for it to be called cashmere
it has to be 19 microns in diameter or less. It can only have up to 3% of cashmere fibers
that are more than 30 microns, and it has to come from the dehaired goat and only from
the under hair of the cashmere goat. Cashmere is called that way because the goats
traditionally lived in the Kashmir region in Asia. Today, you can find cashmere goats in other
places such as Mongolia but you need to have a certain elevation which creates that fine
under hair that is so prized. Cashmere has been exported from Asia in the
1800’s but to learn more about the history, please check out our in-depth guide on the
website here. Today about 70% of all cashmere in the world
comes from China, 20% comes from Mongolia, and 10% comes from other places. The climate in the central part of Asia is
extreme in terms of heat and cold which leads to the development of that fine under hair
in the cashmere goat. Traditionally, cashmere fibers are harvested
just once a year during the spring time and there are two ways to get it. The first method is combing which is much
more high-quality but more labor-intensive. It’s done by hand and the hair is physically
combed out. It results in a higher quality cashmere because
you mostly only get the under hair fibers which are desirable. Option number two is shearing where a machine
is used to cut both the guard hair and the fine on their
hair and the problem is you have both combined which yields in a lower quality cashmere that’s
not as soft. In China and Mongolia where labor costs are
really low, combing is still a number one method of harvesting. If you go to New Zealand or Australia you’ll
more likely to encounter shearing. Once the cashmere fibers are harvested therefore
they are onto the processors. It has to be sorted and washed and longer
cashmere fibers are more desirable than shorter ones because they create a more even yarn
that is less prone to pilling. Today, less expensive cashmere that you find
at malls and a scarf or maybe like just 20 bucks, means that you get the very short fibers
and even though they’re soft, after you wear them a few times and there’s some friction,
you will encounter pilling which is very unattractive. Because cashmere is so fine, it is often spun
but just into one yarn but different yarns are spun into multiple yarns. The process of combining those yarns is called
ply so you may find two ply which means two yarns have been spun together which results
into a more uniform, more resistant, and higher quality yarn. With cashmere though, for example for sweaters,
you sometimes see 3 ply, 4 ply, 6 ply, all the way up to nine ply or ten ply. As you can imagine, with the plys, the weight
goes up but it’s also a higher quality so if you have a sweater out of a 10 ply cashmere
chances are it’s gonna cost you 800 or $1000. Unfortunately, the ply term is not really
protected so unless you can trust the source, if you see a 10-ply label it doesn’t always
mean it’s actually a 10-ply, it could just be a 6ply and you just don’t know it because
you don’t have the means to test it. Historically, cashmere was introduced to the
US on a large scale in 1947 and up until the 70s when China passed some trade laws, it
was a really rare commodity. Because it was so popular and fetched such
high prices, more and more Shepherds decided to have cashmere goats. Now that had a substantial environmental impact. Goats are hurting animals and such, they move
on, the problem is their hooves pull up the roots of the grass in nomadic desert areas
in Central Asia and because of that, they’re responsible for the expansion of the desert
in those areas. As more and more cashmere goats have appeared,
they’ve eaten more and more of the grass and pulled out more and more of the roots until
there was nothing left and they had to move on. Because of that, Mongolia’s grasslands have
degraded by 65 percent. As a consequence, sand and dust storms now
plague central parts of Asia thus impacting the livelihood and the health of the people
there. So what does it mean for you? Ideally you invest only in the highest quality
cashmere because that will last the longest and therefore, you don’t have to rebuy cashmere
scarves every season thus impacting the desert growth in Central Asia. So what’s the best quality cashmere? One, it’s from combed goats,it’s from Mongolia
or China. It’s about 14 to 16 microns in diameter and
it’s 50 millimeters long which is about two inches. As I said, the higher the ply, the better. So how can you buy quality cashmere? Actually, I’ve always found it was extremely
difficult to find out more information about cashmere especially when you shop online but
also in stores. Sales clerks don’t know what they’re talking
about and people just say “oh it’s quality cashmere”, most of time you don’t learn about
the plies, you don’t learn about the fibre length, they can’t even tell you where it
is sourced and as such, you should only buy cashmere from a retailer where you can return
it after a while. Especially if you encounter pilling after
a few times of wear. Now that being said, even the highest quality
cashmere will pill eventually, it will just happen muchlater and pilling is usually encountered
in areas of high friction. For a starter for example, underneath the
arms. Of course, you as a consumer can use common
sense because you’re not gonna get a super high quality cashmere scarf for 50 bucks or
for five dollars on the street, that is simply a deal it’s too good to be true. So always check if your retailer provides
enough information about cashmere and we try to do it on our website when we have our scarves
for example or our gloves because we want to make sure that we source quality cashmere
that stands the test of time. So what should you do and don’t do when it
comes to cashmere? First of all don’t be fooled by gauge numbers
when it comes to cashmere, they don’t matter. Do expect that a retailer should explain to
you why their cashmere cost as much as it does. Don’t buy cheap disposable cashmere that has
to be renewed every season and instead.. Do buy cashmere in timeless patterns and colors
that you can wear from now and for years to come. Do consider the cost per wear for cashmere,
especially if you plan to wear it for 20 years from now. Do buy a cashmere products that best utilize
the characteristics of material. Cashmere is very soft and therefore it’s great
for sweaters scarves linings, even ties, however it’s not suited for suits or pants because
in the area around your thighs there’s too much friction and it will pill very easily. Also, if you go for cashmere socks, it makes
sense to blend it maybe with silk or some other fibers to give it more strength while
maintaining its softness. When it comesvto jackets, do buy a hundred
percent cashmere sport coats such as the one I’m wearing here right now. It’s very soft or go with suits that have
merino wool blended with cashmere to add extra softness. Don’t buy cashmere that is blended with polyester
or nylon because usually it’s a very low quality cashmere and you’ll regret your purchase soon
thereafter. Last but not least, how do you care for cashmere? Unlike cotton, it is normally not machine
washable and is a hand wash only item. I’d also try not to dryclean it if you can
avoid it instead, you can get a baby shampoo andgently wash it by hand and then Pat it
dry with a cotton towel and let it air dry gently, ideally on a hanger, unless it’s a
sweater, that should be dried flat. Alternatively, you can also purchase low alkaline
detergent which is perfect for cashmere. Once you wash cashmere and it’s dried, it
may feel a lot stiffer so you have to kind of crunch it and make it soft, maybe iron
it, and steam it and wear it a little bit, and it will regain its original softness In today’s video, I am
wearing a hundred percent cashmere jacket by H Freeman & Sons which I found
at a vintage flea market for just 20 bucks. It has a classic Prince of Wales
check pattern with nice tones of brown beige and mustard yellow which is
perfect for the fall winter season. As such, it pairs really well with my dark
chocolate brown Polo Ralph Lauren cotton corduroy slacks and my wool vest for my
shirt I chose a custom shirt made out of a light blue cotton flannel and even
though it is very soft it is not cashmere but it almost feels like it I
combined it with a solid brown cashmere high which is generally thicker than a
silk tie and it pairs particularly well with fall winter outfits I tried to keep
the color scheme very muted Brown and falling the pocket square is from Fort
Belvedere it is wool and printed in England and it picks up the colors of
the blue in the shirt and the burgundy of the waistcoat to run a full character
i pair it with trickers boots in a nice tan cognac color
I added contrasting boot laces from Fort Belvedere to just create a little more
interest my socks are a cashmere silk plant there are pros
from Fort Belvedere and their dark green however with boots that reach over the
ankle you’ll rarely ever see the socks my cufflinks are Eagle Claw cufflinks
from Fort Belvedere with a tiger’s eye which is a very nice brown and yellow
changing look to it which goes exceptionally well look at my jacket in
my pants as well as my shoes in line with that I have a ring which is that a
pinkie ring because too big for my pinky finger so bring it on my ring finger and
it works well with the cufflinks as well with all the other brown tones in my
outfit if I’d go outside I’d wear a scarf with it such as this for velvety
scarf in a nice mustard yellow that is very seasonally appropriate for gloves
most of our gloves have a cashmere lining and you can check out all four
Belvedere accessories in our shop here thanks for your support and if you
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