Cashmere, or originally Kashmir, is the name given to a very special type of goat, whose unrivalled soft and silky undercoat is the main raw material for cashmere wool. The Cashmere goat is native to the Himalayan plateaus of India and Tibet. Although in the 1800s, Kashmir was the world’s main supplier of cashmere wool, today the region is no longer a significant producer. Nowadays, the biggest cashmere wool producing regions are Northern China, Mongolia and Tibet. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India also produce Cashmere but in smaller quantities.
The robust Cashmere goat, who has subsisted for centuries on the harsh mountains and plateaus of the Far East, has a lifespan of approximately seven years. The Cashmere goat grows its special fleece to protect it from the extreme cold of winter in the region. The fleece comprises an outercoat of course hairs but also a soft undercoat of very fine hairs. It is this undercoat of finer hairs that provides the raw material for Cashmere. It takes one of these cashmere goats three years to produce enough wool for a single cashmere sweater!
Once the goats begin moulting in Spring, the goat’s hair is shed naturally. In some regions such as China and Mongolia, the hair is removed with a comb by hand. In order for the fine underwool to be classified as cashmere, it needs to be de-haired. During this process, the coarser hair from the outer coat is then separated from the super fine hairs of the goat’s undercoat. Following the purification of the hairs to remove natural grease and accumulated dirt, the prized cashmere wool is ready for dyeing, spinning and knitting. Natural colours of Cashmere hairs are grey, brown and white, the latter being the most prized.
Cashmere, no matter what one’s fashion preferences remains today an ideal wardrobe builder, and thus makes for a very special gift for both men and women, young or old. Everyone recognises that owning a cashmere garment means owning something very special, to be cherished for life.
Where to buy Cashmere in London: