Dressing in winter is all about layering: one removes a layer when going into a climate controlled area and puts it back on before stepping outside. Cashmere is one of the best layers to wear because although it is warm – between five and eight times warmer than merino wool, according to one report – it is not overly hot, and is very breathable, helping the body maintain its natural temperature. In fact, cashmere is not only for the deepest, coldest winter days, but can also be worn in late winter and early spring.
What is cashmere?
As the name suggests, cashmere comes from the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent Kashmir. The goats raised in this region grow a soft undercoat that is shed in the warmer spring months. The soft hairs of this undercoat are gathered and spun into a yarn that can then be made into pure cashmere or mixed with sheep’s wool or other fibers to make a cashmere blend.
Also known as pashmina, this fiber first became known outside southern Asia through trade in scarves or shawls. One of the reasons for cashmere’s enduring popularity is its soft, luxurious feel. Because of its finer, softer fibers, cashmere sits very well on bare skin, without the scratchy quality that wool can sometimes have. This inspired clothing manufacturers to incorporate cashmere into more than scarves.
Cashmere if you can
Cashmere, either in a blend or as pure cashmere, can now be enjoyed in everything from coats and sweaters to business suits and gloves. It is treasured and loved by men and women young and old. Although more expensive than sheep’s wool, it is not beyond reach, and there is usually something available to suit most personal budgets.
If care is taken with cashmere garments, they can be durable and look good for many years. The washing instructions on an item of cashmere give important information about how it can be cleaned. Many things, for example sweaters, should be washed by hand in warm (not hot) water, while others like suits ought to be dry-cleaned. When not worn for a long time, cashmere should be stored flat in a dark, cool and dry place.
The items pictured above and many other garments made of cashmere can be found at Samsung C&T Fashion Group’s online SSF shop.