Something about that cashmere sweater says expensive and it’s not just the price tag. When you walk into the room sporting a 100% cashmere sweater, people know that you’ve splurged on quality. Or did you? The cashmere industry has recently come under scrutiny after a combination of fur mixing and false labelling scandals. Long story short, cashmere’s not always the cashmere that you think you know and love. Instead, cashmere is a word a lot of retailers hide behind because of its status, but it’s important to know that not all cashmere was created equal.
Fabric With a Heritage
Cashmere comes from goats that primarily live in the Gobi Desert, which stretches from Northern China into Mongolia. It’s expensive because of the labour that goes into the craft of making it. Cashmere’s quality can actually vary quite a bit depending on how it’s removed from the goat and the time put into treating the wool after.
Time is Money
Cashmere is more expensive to make than other fabrics, this is indisputable. Farmers who practice the tradition of combing, scouring, dehairing, and spinning contribute to the heritage of the fabric. Following this process is incredibly time consuming and requires meticulous attention to detail. The amount of time and detail that goes into making this type of cashmere is a direct relation to the price.
The tradition found in the craft of cashmere is why we’re quite proud of where our cashmere comes from. Our cashmere is removed by hand with bristly brushes that gently comb tufts of wool from the goats. Combing by hand means that the longer, soft hairs are collected, leaving the coarser hairs behind. The wool then goes through a thorough cleaning process and is re-combed to create grade A, yes please, cashmere.
A common and easier way of harvesting wool is to shear (shave) instead of combing the goats. It’s much quicker but means a lot of raw material, dirt and grease are left in the wool and it also decreases the quality. Instead of long, lush hairs that come from combing, you’re left with short, thick hairs. This type of inferior wool is often, by the by used and sold at grade A cashmere prices. Selling low quality cashmere at top dollar prices is what we call the opposite of cool…not cool.
The Big “C” Word
Cashmere’s got a reputation that many follow blindly. Nothing says classy adult like a beautiful cashmere sweater, right? This unquestionable status associated with the fabric is often warped to retailers advantage.
It’s very common for garments that have a low percentage of grade A cashmere to be deceitfully advertised as “cashmere” without clarifying that the garment is actually made up of a number of different fibres (cashmere only being one of them). Discovering this doesn’t require any spy gear or lab coats – most of the time all you need to do is read the the care label to see the make up of the garment. A second misdirection of the word is when “shortcut cashmere” is presented at the same 6-8 times markup value as hand-combed cashmere. Even though both are 100% cashmere the quality of the two finished products varies greatly.
At Grana, we’re invested in the real deal, top notch, grade A cashmere. We also believe in honest pricing and have built our business using a 2-3 times markup, instead of the luxury 6-8 times markup standard. We do this because we think the best, should be affordable.