Cashmere is a soft fabric produced from the undercoats of special goats that live in Central Asia. They are called cashmere or Kashmir goats. It takes one of these animals around a year to grow enough hair to produce just one cashmere scarf. Cashmere garments aren’t just several times warmer than traditional sheep wool, they are significantly softer, thinner, and more breathable. The substantial effort that goes into producing top-grade cashmere led to the emergence of its lower-quality counterparts. Compared to original cashmere, low-quality cashmere garments have multiple disadvantages. However, they can still be a suitable option for someone who is on a budget.
Understanding the difference between high- and low-quality cashmere can help you make the right buying decision.
From A to C: Cashmere Grades
The grading of cashmere depends on the fineness, length, and color of the fibers. The fineness is the thickness (measured in microns) of the individual fibers, with thicker fibers having higher quality. The length of the fibers is also important since longer fibers tend to be stronger and more durable.
- Grade A – highest-quality cashmere often used by luxury brands. The thickness of this cashmere can be as low as 14 microns. For comparison, human hair is 70 microns.
- Grade B – this grade is less soft than Grade A cashmere. Its thickness is about 20 microns
- Grade C– this is the lowest quality cashmere. Its thickness is about 30 microns, which is more than twice as thick as Grade A’s.
Besides the thickness and length, the cashmere grading system also takes into account the color of the fibers. White or light-colored cashmere has a higher grade because it requires less processing to achieve a wide range of colors. Darker or mixed-colored fibers have a lower quality and may be used for lower-grade cashmere products.
How to Tell High-Quality Cashmere From Low-Quality Cashmere
While a high price tag is often an indication of high cashmere quality, it’s not the only factor. Several ways exist to make sure you are getting a top-graded luxury garment instead of a low-quality item.
A reliable brand that produces high-quality products isn’t likely to sell low-quality cashmere garments that may tarnish its reputation. When it comes to buying Grade A cashmere, consider choosing a credible manufacturer.
Before purchasing the garment, check the label. It should read 100% cashmere. While the manufacturer isn’t legally obligated to mention the grade, they can’t write 100% cashmere if the product has other materials mixed in.
High-quality cashmere feels soft to the skin. By trying the garment on, you can test how it feels on different parts of your body. You can also run the cashmere product over a sensitive skin area, such as the inside of your elbow or knee. While Grade A will feel incredibly soft, Grade B cashmere may feel a little scratchy. Usually, manufacturers try not to use Grade C cashmere to produce items that have a lot of contact with sensitive skin areas.
High-quality cashmere maintains its shape even after you wear a garment many times. Grade A cashmere items can last you over 200 wears. Meanwhile, low-quality cashmere is likely to stretch out and lose its aesthetic appeal quickly.
Before buying the garment, you can perform a stretch test. Stretch a small piece of the fabric and see how fast it snaps back into shape. If the garment stretches out and sags instead of bouncing back immediately, you could be dealing with low-quality cashmere.
Choose one section of the cashmere garment and rub your hand over it. If you see small balls forming on the surface, the item contains a high number of shorter hairs. This signals low quality. Longer fibers in high-quality cashmere are less prone to pilling and ensure a better look.
High-Quality Cashmere at Family Britches
Cashmere’s softness, beauty, and warmth make it one of the most popular luxury materials. A top-grade cashmere product can last you for decades. With many low-quality cashmere items in the market, you need to make an extra effort to make sure you are getting a high-quality product.
At Family Britches, we offer you a wide selection of excellent cashmere items that don’t just help you look stylish but also make excellent gifts. For more information about cashmere garments from our collection, please contact our team at any time.