In addition, cashmere fibers are strong and elastic, meaning that they return to their original state when stretched, so cashmere garments retain their shape during wear and laundering. Another interesting fact is that as cashmere is worn and hand washed over time, the fibers will become softer and softer.
The longer, finer, and whiter the cashmere, the more rare and expensive it is. Finer and longer cashmere is what goes into luxury garments. Thicker, shorter hair will be made into less expensive garments and is often used as part of a blend.
The great majority of the world’s best cashmere comes from Inner Mongolia (an autonomous region of China) and Mongolia (aka Outer Mongolia), where 40 million goats contend with temperatures below -22°F (-30°C). The colder the weather and the longer the days, the longer and finer the goat’s hair. And Mongolian weather can drop to -58°F (-50°C); that’s why China produces the finest and best cashmere in the world.
In the spring, as they start to moult, the goats are combed or shaved to remove their fine underhair while leaving the outer coat (guard hair) intact. The combings are then washed and “dehaired” of any stray guard hair, so that what is left is the precious, pure cashmere.
After the goats are combed or shaved and hairs collected by hand each spring, the hairs go through many steps including sorting, scouring, re-sorting, and dehairing to eliminate any coarse “guard” hairs before the fibers can be spun into yarn. Some specific processes, for example, sorting, are almost always done by hand, to make sure the selected fibers are as uniform and as pure as they can be.
The scarcity of the fiber and the handwork of skilled workers with 10+ years of experience required to convert that fiber into a luxurious garment both contribute to cashmere’s price.
In addition, the beautiful drape achieved by the worsted cashmere fabrication can effortlessly flatter most body shapes with exceptional comfort.