Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tips on shopping for CASHMERE

Today's marketplace has seen an ever-increasing demand for cashmere products. In order to help meet demand, some manufacturers have been "padding" their cashmere percentages listed on the garment tags, while some others use the coarser, thicker, and shorter hairs from the Kashmir goats and call it "cashmere." Pretty much any hair from the Kashmir goat can be called "cashmere," but there are great differences in quality.

The finest cashmere is the thinnest (diameter) and longest of the fibers. Longer, thinner fibers make for a much stronger and softer yarn. When spun into yarn, the longer fibers are much less likely to become separated from the yarn and pill. Pilling is basically the smaller strands of cashmere separating from the knit and bundling together.

ALL cashmere will pill, but the best quality will pill considerably less and practically STOP pilling after the first few wears. It's like the sweater is getting its "pilling" out of its system.

Alright, things to look for in shopping for CASHMERE:
  1. The label- Even department stores can be duped into buying lesser-quality cashmere so ALWAYS check the tag. People like to claim "cashmere sweaters on sale" or whatever. Then, you look at the tag and it's 5% cashmere... By law, all cashmere sweaters are required to be labeled with the percentage of cashmere, country of origin, and the name of manufacturer.
  2. Price- If a "100% Cashmere" sweater is retailed less than $200, it is probably a lesser quality. On SALE for $200 is great!
  3. Feel- Cashmere will be extraordinarily soft and should not feel rough at all. Lower quality can feel slightly prickly or rough. Most people who are allergic to wool (like myself) can wear cashmere with NO problem. Sometimes it doesn't feel rough to your hand, but try it on. Your stomach is more sensitive than your fingers.
  4. Look- If a sweater looks too "poofy" or extra fuzzy, don't buy it. Poofy=pilling. Cashmere should be tightly knit and look smooth. Even when it looks smooth, cashmere should be soft, light, and feel like you are wearing air.
  5. Look- Is it shiny? Yes? Don't buy it. More often than not, it is a cashmere blend. Usually, silk.
  6. Seams- Look inside the sweater and see how the seams have been done. If the seams have been serged, walk away. Serged seams is when the shape of a sweater has been cookie-cut from a large piece of cashmere and then sewn together on the edges to hide the raw edges. Knit cashmere sweaters will be put together as individual sections that were knit individually.
  7. Stretch- Cashmere should give a BIT, like all knit fabrics. If you pull from side to side and your sweater stays stretched in that shape, it is poor quality. Cashmere should rebound directly and quickly into its original shape.

I hope this helps you in your search for the best cashmere! If I think of more things to consider, I will add it!