How Can I Tell if Cashmere is of Good Quality?

How Can I Tell if Cashmere is of Good Quality?

Cashmere is revered for its softness, warmth, and luxurious feel, making it a coveted material in fashion. However, not all cashmere is created equal, and discerning high-quality cashmere from inferior products can be challenging. This guide will help you identify good quality cashmere by examining various factors such as origin, fiber length and diameter, ply, weave, and brand reputation.

Understanding the Origin of Cashmere

Source of the Fiber

High-quality cashmere typically comes from specific regions known for producing superior fibers, such as Mongolia, China, and the Himalayan regions of India and Nepal. These areas provide the harsh climates necessary for goats to grow the fine undercoat that cashmere is made from. When evaluating cashmere, check the label to see if the source of the fiber is mentioned. Premium cashmere brands often highlight their sourcing locations to assure customers of the product’s authenticity. Quality cashmere garments should be labeled as 100% cashmere. Blends with other fibers, while still potentially luxurious, do not offer the same quality and should be clearly indicated on the label.

Harvesting and Production Methods

The method of harvesting cashmere fibers also affects the quality. The finest cashmere is obtained through a gentle combing process that collects the soft undercoat without harming the goats. Inferior cashmere might be harvested through shearing, which can mix coarser guard hairs with the fine undercoat, resulting in a less soft and durable product. Brands that adhere to ethical and sustainable practices in harvesting often provide better quality cashmere.

Examining Fiber Length and Diameter

Length of the Fibers

The length of cashmere fibers is a critical determinant of quality. Longer fibers, typically around 36mm or more, produce stronger and smoother yarns that are less prone to pilling. Shorter fibers, on the other hand, result in weaker yarns and a rougher texture. When shopping for cashmere, feel the fabric and look for indications of fiber length on the product information. Longer fibers ensure a more luxurious and durable garment.

Fiber Diameter

The diameter of cashmere fibers, measured in microns, is another important quality indicator. High-quality cashmere fibers are fine, usually between 14 to 16 microns in diameter. Thicker fibers can feel coarser and less luxurious. Fine fibers result in a softer, more delicate feel against the skin. Always check for fiber diameter specifications when possible, as finer fibers are a hallmark of superior cashmere.

Evaluating Ply and Weave

Ply Count

Ply refers to the number of yarns twisted together to make the cashmere fabric. Single-ply cashmere is often lighter and softer, while double-ply or more can be thicker and more durable. High-quality cashmere can be found in both single and multiple plies, but it should always feel smooth and not overly bulky or stiff. Examining the ply can give insights into the fabric’s intended use and durability.

Weave Quality

The weave of the cashmere fabric affects its overall texture and durability. High-quality cashmere will have a tight, even weave, ensuring that the fabric holds together well and maintains its shape over time. Inferior cashmere may have a looser weave, which can lead to stretching and loss of form. Feel the fabric and observe its weave closely; well-made cashmere will feel consistent and resilient.

Assessing the Softness and Feel

Touch and Texture

One of the most distinctive features of high-quality cashmere is its softness. When you touch cashmere, it should feel incredibly soft and smooth, almost buttery, against your skin. There should be no roughness or scratchiness, which can indicate lower-quality fibers or inferior processing methods. Always feel the cashmere directly to judge its softness and overall texture. However, brand-new cashmere might be slightly less soft than it will become after a few wears and washes. This is due to the natural oils in the wool, which soften over time.

Weight and Warmth

Good quality cashmere is both lightweight and exceptionally warm. The natural properties of cashmere fibers provide insulation without bulkiness. When assessing a cashmere garment, it should feel Lightweight cashmere can be of high quality in hand but provide noticeable warmth when worn. This combination of lightness and warmth is a key characteristic of high-grade cashmere.

Considering Brand Reputation and Price

Reputable Brands

Purchasing cashmere from reputable brands and retailers is often a safer bet for ensuring quality. Established brands with a history of producing fine cashmere are more likely to offer products that meet high standards. Research the brand’s reputation, read customer reviews, and check for any certifications or awards that may indicate superior quality.

Price as an Indicator

While price alone is not a definitive measure of quality, it can be a useful indicator. High-quality cashmere is expensive due to the labor-intensive process of harvesting and producing the fine fibers. Be wary of cashmere products that are significantly cheaper than the market average, as they may be blended with other materials or produced using inferior fibers. Investing in moderately to higher-priced cashmere often correlates with better quality.

Conducting Durability Tests

Stretch and Recovery

A simple test to gauge cashmere quality is to gently stretch a small section of the fabric and then release it. High-quality cashmere will return to its original shape without losing its form. Poor quality cashmere may not bounce back as effectively, indicating weaker fibers and lower durability.

Pilling Resistance

Pilling, or the formation of small balls of fiber on the surface of the fabric, is a common issue with lower-quality cashmere. While all cashmere will pill to some extent with wear, high-quality cashmere will resist pilling for longer. Examine the garment for any signs of pilling and consider how it has been worn and cared for.


Identifying high-quality cashmere involves careful consideration of several factors, including the origin of the fibers, their length and diameter, the ply and weave, the softness and feel, brand reputation, and price. By paying attention to these details, you can confidently select luxurious cashmere that offers superior comfort, warmth, and durability. Investing in quality cashmere ensures a timeless addition to your wardrobe that will provide long-lasting elegance and enjoyment.

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