History

Cashmere originated from Kashmir in India and the name derives from the old spelling of the region. Cashmere is obtained from the fine, soft, downy undercoat of cashmere goats that live at the foothills of the Himalayas and the process of manufacturing cashmere is a delicate and lengthy one. The earliest documented usage of cashmere dates back to the 14th century and by the 18th century cashmere shawls were being regularly exported to Europe, particularly Britain and France. Cashmere was already seen as a symbol of status and wealth, in fact it was reported that the wife of Napoleon, Empress Josephine had hundreds of luxurious cashmere scarfs.

For a short period cashmere was replaced by cheaper alternatives but quickly designers and consumers realised that there was no match for the soft luxury of real cashmere. Now more than ever we are seeing cashmere on the catwalk, used by international fashion brands throughout the world.

facts

  • Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and NOT sheep. Sheep Cashmere is NOT Cashmere. It is regular fine wool derived from native Chinese Sheep and NOT from Cashmere Goats.
  • Cashmere comes from the entire undercoat of the goat and NOT just the underbelly. NOT all fibre derived from the Cashmere goat is cashmere. The outer coat of the goat is made up of coarse hair, not used in cashmere production, is called guard hair.
  • Pashmina is a word derived from the Persian word ‘pashm’ meaning wool. It is a term used by some Asian countries (India, Nepal, Pakistan etc) to refer to Cashmere. Pashmina is NOT the best quality of cashmere. Pashmina is NOT silk blended with Cashmere. Infact 100% Pashmina labelling is used for cheap imitations made from wool or even viscose. Legally, labelling a product 100% Pashmina is as good as not labelling it at all.

care

Wash care

Cashmere fabric is made from a fine wool fibre which must be looked after to keep it looking its best. Cashmere garments are commonly dry cleaned but you can wash cashmere at home.

Follow these simple rules to keep your cashmere clean:

  • Always wash in cold or lukewarm water, never over 40 degrees.
  • Always wash garments inside and put scarves in a net bag.
  • Use cashmere friendly, mild detergent.
  • Gently press out the excess water after washing.
  • Never rub, wring, stretch or hang the garment.
  • Always dry away from the sun or any other heat sources.
  • Always dry the garments flat.

Storage

Correctly storing your cashmere is as important as cleaning it. Follow these rules to keep your cashmere safe in the cupboard:

  • Always make sure the garment is clean before you store it.
  • Never hang cashmere.
  • If you store the garment in a bag or container make sure it is breathable.
  • Avoid moth damage by storing the garment near anti-moth agents or cedar balls.

Today 100% Pashmina labeling is used for cheap imitations made from wool or even viscose.

The Making

01

Collection

High quality Cashmere is collected by carefully combing the goat. The loose hair in the comb is then delicately removed to ensure no damage is done to the fine Cashmere fibre.

02

Scouring

This is simply a washing process to remove any dirt and grease from the wool.

03

Dehairing

During this stage any non-Cashmere hairs are removed (such as hairs from the goat’s coarse guard hair). The quality of the Cashmere fibre is determined during this step and this depends on their fibre length and diameter.

04

Colouring/Dyeing

All high quality Cashmere is coloured or dyed at the fibre stage. This is referred to as ‘fibre dyeing’ or sometimes ‘stock dyeing’.

05

Spinning

The newly dyed fibres are now put through a spinning process specially designed for the delicate Cashmere fibres. The quality of the yarn are defined at this stage too. Yarns to be used for knitting will have lower twist and so will require longer fibres and yarns for weaving will have higher twist so can be used for slightly lower quality yarn.

06

Knitting

The yarn is knitted into panels using automatic or hand flat knitting machines. The panels are then stitched together on high precision stitching machines to create the finished article. The garment is finally sent through the finishing process which involves washing, softening, drying and steam pressing the garment to produce the required shape and feel.

07

Weaving

The yarn is woven into a scarf or a stole using two sets of yarns called the warp and weft. The woven scarf is then sent through a similar finishing process to the knitted garments, however some blends may require extra treatments.

Quality Secrets

The Quality of Cashmere is defined by many factors. Just because it feels soft does not mean it is good Cashmere. Some important parameters that affect the quality of Cashmere and more importantly the price are mentioned below.

FibreLength

Fibre length is responsible for the pilling (small woolly balls) quality of the knitwear. The longer the cashmere fibre the higher the tensile strength and in turn the better the product durability. That said, most manufacturers nowadays use shorter fibres, this reduces the price and often gives a softer had feel at first, but results in higher rate of pilling. Over a short period of time you will notice the garment loosing weight and looking worn-out.

At Tricot we only use the longer cashmere fibres ensuring the final product has low pilling resulting in higher quality and better product performance. As such, you can be assured of the luxurious nature of our products. For standard knitwear we don’t use fibres below 34mm in length (preferably over 36mm) and for finer knitwear it is best to use fibres over 38mm. It is easy to test fibre lengths in a lab and we are constantly making sure our fibres are of the optimum length and quality.

Fibre Micron (Diameter)

The micron (measure of the diameter of the fibre) of the fibre is responsible for the hand feel of the product. Finer the fiber, softer it will feel. The International standard range to qualify as Cashmere is set to a maximum of 19 micron. Most manufacturers will use fibre of high micron with shorter fibre making the product cheap and soft but it will in fact be of very poor quality. This will start pilling with the first wear and look worn out in no time.

At Tricot, we have set a standard never to use any fibre above 16 micron. This is at par with most famous international brands. We consistently monitor this through regular lab tests.

FibreColour/Bleached Cashmere

We only use the highest quality white cashmere that we dye to suit our customers’ requirements. Many manufacturers use the inferior, darker cashmere fibres and bleach them to make the fibres suitable for dyeing. Bleaching leads to damaged fibres, poor product performance and higher pilling levels. We constantly monitor our raw materials by a simple colour stripping test.

Recycled Cashmere

Many manufacturers will use recycled cashmere at the spinning stage. This is very difficult to detect but tell-tale signs of recycled cashmere include; high pilling levels, weight loss and a dull look after washing. One way to check this early is to weigh the individual garments. A high fluctuation in weight of the same colour/size garment can be an indication of recycled fibre use. Tricot ensures recycled fibres are not used by closely monitoring the spinning stage and the raw material used. We also perform pilot runs of each yarn lot to check for any tell tale signs.

Purity Percentage

When you are paying for 100% cashmere, you should be getting 100% cashmere. It is common for some manufacturers to use yarn that has a lesser percentage of cashmere than promised. We have regular tests done to check the purity percentage of our Cashmere and we are so confident about our purity that we offer a 100% lifetime purity guarantee so you can always be certain you are getting the highest quality 100% cashmere product.

Dyeing/Colouring Process

The best stage at which to dye cashmere is before spinning and that is what we do. However, this process requires large quantities that most manufacturers cannot generate and leaves them no option but to use yarn dyed cashmere. This results in damaged cashmere fibres and low quality, dull looking garments. All of our Cashmere is dyed at the fibre stage and we don’t encourage the use of any other process.

Poorly Combed Cashmere

The combing process eliminates short fibres, guard hair and other unwanted materials from the good cashmere and has to be repeated 2-3 times to achieve high quality wool. This process wastes 2-3% of the cashmere per comb so low quality manufacturers will limit this stage in order to save on costs. We control this by having regular tests done to check for the presence of guard hair and short fibres.

Weight Factor

High quality cashmere is made to last, so the weight, and therefore the knit structure, is very important. Most manufacturers will make light, loosely knit, poorly constructed garment to reduce the cost. In turn, this product will be low in quality and perform poorly.

Uneven Yarn

To reduce the wastage and manufacturing cost of the yarn, many manufacturers will allow for a high variation on the thickness. This results in an uneven knit leading to weight and colour variations and sometimes an unsightly stripe effect on the garment. We are the only company in Nepal to have an Uster Tester to check the evenness of the yarn. This gives us a distinct advantage over all of our competitors.

Shearing of Fibre

For large quantities of cashmere, some manufacturers opt to shear the goat’s fleece but this hugely affects the quality of the cashmere. Shearing not only damages the fibre but also reduces its length. We strongly advise against buying any cashmere obtained through shearing. We ensure the fibres used for our Cashmere are combed and NOT sheared by monitoring very closely what fibres go in at the spinning stage.