How to Identify Quality Cashmere

Understanding cashmere

Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, is a luxury fiber; obtained from cashmere goats, pashmina goats, and some other breeds of goat; made into clothing and blankets due to its soft, light-weight and insulating properties. Not all cashmere goats are created equal.  Inner Mongolia is generally seen as the best origin for cashmere, due to the harsher winters which produce the longest, thinnest and softest hair.

The Process Behind Manufacturing Cashmere Wool

The production process is divided into various methods. The style of cashmere production varies among commercial cashmere and traditional cottage industries. In history, to spin a fine yarn of cashmere, nomadic herding people used to comb and shorn the hair from goats.
A huge amount of cashmere production services are following the same method.

· Shearing

The goats must be ready with coats of hair, which take around 1 year to grow the wool. To accomplish the shearing process there are various methods, the wool is taken out without harming the goat, the shearing process is a cruelty-free process.

· Cleaning

The second process is to clean the dirt of wool after collecting the raw wool.

· Combing

The fibers will comb individually into straight lines, and segment them according to their thinness and thickness.

· Spinning

The segmented fibers are fed into a machine to spin, and yarn by twisting the woolen fiber. The textile industry produces yarn products in thinner and thicker design.

· Cleaning and dyeing        

Aging the yarn will be cleaned and the dye may be applied at this stage. Mostly the producers wish to garment-dye their cashmere products.

· Weaving

After finishing, cashmere fiber yarn will be woven into a textile item for consumption, such as Scarves, shawl, Vests, and sweaters.

· Final Treatment

The wool is flame resistant naturally so, earlier the garments leave the service, they will be cured with flame- retardant.

Cashmere Quality

The most important factor in the quality of cashmere is the length and fineness of the fibers. Items made with long fine fibers pill less and maintain their shape better than items made with shorter hair.  The finer the cashmere fiber the softer it feels.

Color also impacts the quality of cashmere; naturally white hair is more desirable because it doesn’t require as much processing to dye different colors.  Less processing equals a softer result.

Cashmere Grades

Cashmere grades help determine the quality of the cashmere, as defined by the thickness and length of hairs on the fibre. The grades range from A to C, with A being the highest quality, and most expensive.

GRADE A:

The highest quality cashmere as the fibres will both be the longest and finest. The diameter of the fibres can be as low as 14-15.5 microns, with a length of 34- 36mm.

GRADE B:

This will be thicker, and not as soft as Grade A, with a diameter of 19 microns. This is still considered a high-grade cashmere, but will be noticeably less valuable and durable compared to Grade A.

GRADE C:

This is the lowest quality grade for cashmere, as the fibres are much thicker with a diameter of around 30 microns. This is much cheaper than the other grades, and will not feel as soft.

Cashmere vs. sustainability

In general cashmere has a neutral impact on the environment. While some aspects of cashmere’s environmental impact are good, others are bad:

Most synthetic fibers are not biodegradable, which means they remain in the ecosystem for hundreds of years. These fibers are also often toxic, which poses another ecological hazard. Whether the fibers themselves are toxic or not, producing synthetic textiles always results in the production of hazardous waste.

The more we use natural fibers like cashmere wool instead of nylon, polyester, or other alternatives, the more we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and protect the environment. Unlike cotton and other plant textile crops, wool doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers, which makes wool production highly environmentally-friendly.

Cashmere fabric certifications :

  • Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) Sustainable Cashmere Standard

The SCS is one of the newest certifiers of cashmere wool. This branch of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance seeks to develop a new standard for cashmere production that affords proper respect to grassland health, animal management, and other aspects of sustainable wool production. Look for the “SFA” logo on compliant cashmere wool products.

  • Kering Standard on Cashmere

The Kering Standard isn’t as strict as some other cashmere certifiers. Kering oversees the production of various animal fibers and products, and this organization has a thorough process in place for implementing safe, sustainable wool production infrastructure.

  • Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)

The RCS aims to increase the use of recycled materials in textile products, and this opt-in program allows cashmere producers to let the world know that their products are recycled.

  • Global Recycled Standard (GRS)

Wool products are surprisingly easy to recycle. The GRS oversees the recycling of dozens of both organic and artificial textile products, and this organization provides cashmere producers with another opportunity to get their products recognized as eco-friendly.

Tip: How to Wash Cashmere Sweaters?

  • Launder cashmere at home, always inside out. Washing adds moisture back to the fabric; dry cleaning stiffens it.
  • Use the delicate cycle.
  • Put your garment in the dryer for five minutes on the coolest setting. Then spread it on a flat towel to air dry.
  • Never hang anything made of cashmere! Hangers will stretch the fibers.

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